Wednesday, October 19, 2011

5 Ways to Increase Site Traffic: Lessons from the Niche Digital Conference, Part 1

[Travel bursaries for voting magazine members are just one of the many benefit programs that we provide at the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association. We've asked bursary recipients to share their professional development travel experiences]

Lessons from the Niche Digital Conference (Part 1)
This past September, I was lucky enough to attend the Niche Digital Conference in Chicago, thanks to support from my employer, Venture Publishing, and AMPA. The Niche Digital Conference is devoted to teaching online revenue strategies to niche publications and their online extensions.  

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be giving you some of the best tips and tricks that I learned at the conference. Some of it will be old news to the web gurus among us, but hopefully I’ll pass on something useful for everyone. 

I’ll start off with the following five strategies to increase site traffic:
1. Spread out your content! Don’t publish all of your magazine’s content online at the beginning of the month. Use the date stamping tools of your content management system to load your content all at once, but publish it piece by piece over a period of time.  Encourage people to come back to your site multiple times and you’ll build a stronger audience and increase ad impressions.  

2. SEO, SEO, SEO - Stop investing money in Google ad words and start investing time in search engine optimization. The best argument I can make for this is from my own experience.  Thanks to some SEO changes we’ve made to our website, site traffic has increased more than 240% since January 2011. Not all of this increase is due to our SEO work, but search engine popularity has become a major traffic component. Read an SEO book, website, magazine, or hire a consultant to teach your staff how to do it correctly.      

3. Connect with Local Influencers - With an internet filled with free content, actually having a printed product not only makes magazine websites elite, it also gives us massive social cache that many skilled writers and niche experts value. Reach out to popular bloggers, experts, or influencers that have established audiences and see if they’d be interested in blogging on your site. Provided they align with your editorial mandate and quality control, this can be a very quick way of increasing your site’s online audience. By giving them a legitimate platform to write from, you’ll gain their audience and their support.  

4. Create a social media interaction plan - Come up with a clear goal for your social media usage and assign a member of your team to monitor and reply to social media comments each day. Use programs like Hootsuite and TweetDeck to schedule multiple posts a day (aim for 5-10 throughout the day, depending on your market and ability) and make sure to tag your story subject’s social media accounts to ensure lots of reposts and retweets.    

5. Don’t Just Post Your Own Stuff – The best thing about the internet is how interconnected it is, so why are you treating your magazine website like a walled garden? Don’t be afraid to post links to other websites. Become a web content curator in addition to a producer and you’ll see your page rank and traffic rise. The more links out you give, the more links back you’ll get, and Google rewards sites that boast numerous connections to others. 

My next post will be devoted to banner ads, media kits, and the sales side of digital revenue generation. Be sure to check back then! 
--- Andrew Williams
Assistant Publisher, Venture Publishing

Andrew Williams is the Assistant Publisher at Venture Publishing. When he’s not working on Alberta Venture, Alberta Oil, or, he mostly spends his time coming up with bad magazine headline puns. Follow him on twitter @Andrew_NVS for the aforementioned magazine puns.