Briggs Chapter 11 – Building a digital audience for news

The final chapter of Briggs’ “Journalism Next” is about finding a digital audience. How do you get someone other than your family to follow what you are writing?

Web Analytics

Traditional print newspapers count their readers as one whole bunch. Apart from those who write in on certain subjects it is unclear whether people are interested in reading every article or just the sports section. The internet allows anyone with a Web site to see where people are spending their time. This then lets continuous adaptation occur to target hot subjects or presentation styles.

Check out Omniture,  and Google Analytics two web analytics services.

What should you track?

  • Pageviews – how many time your Web pages have been viewed in a set time period.
  • Visits and Unique Visitors Compared – unique visitors are each separate person who visits your Web page. While visits are the total number of times everyone views a Web site.
  • Engagement and Referrers – engagement looks at how long people stay on your site, letting you know how captivating your content is. Referrers looks at how people get to your site, whether through google or a link off another page, or directly entering the Web address.

SEO – Search Engine Optimization

SEO is about making your Web page appear higher up a search engine’s responses.

Ways to incorporate SEO into your Web site:

  • Content – your content choices and coverage will make your Web site better
  • Linking – When you link to other Web sites you give credibility to your work. And hopefully other websites will link to you to increase your credibility. It’s kind of like a loose form of citing and peer review.
  • Descriptive Links – Tell your readers where they will go when they click the link, don’t just put click here.
  • Title Tags – This is the title that appears at the top of a Web browser. Good title tags tell a search engine exactly what your website is about.
  • HTML meta tags – In the source code for your webpage you can insert key words which are especially for search engines (the user doesn’t see them).

Distribute your work through Social Media

If your Web site does not appear on the front page of Google and isn’t something with a large audience already you need to put some work into finding an audience.

You should already be linking to other blogs on the same topic for SEO but try writing in their comments section as well. Create a conversation (see my Chapter 10 blog on managing news as a conversation), maybe people will search for you or that blog editor will link to you. Look and link to things related to your page on websites like pinterest, flickr and youtube. Some people want more! Head to sites like facebook and twitter to create pages for your blog. You can use these to connect on another level with your audience, and post the link to the latest post on your blog. Stumbleupon, reddit and digg are three more great sites. On these sites people (including you) can like your posts, giving more credit to your work and drawing in even more users.

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