Monday, July 9, 2007

Do in-paper refers drive traffic?

Not for a blog about Harry Potter, at least not by 9:40 a.m. on a summer morning, even though a front-page story had a refer to this blog.
(Re-editing this post as new numbers come in. Certainty fades to uncertainty, the more facts you have).
By noon or 1 p.m., traffic had rebounded some, possibly because a link to the blog was posted at the very top of our website in a Harry Potter visual package.
Eventually, the day's numbers surpassed the 818 visitors that came on Saturday, just after the first Harry Potter post went up. Eventual number was 838.
In this case, it looks like many blog readers are using RSS or some other blog-watching software. The blog writer, Mary Newsom, believes the in-paper refer from her Saturday column was a major force in driving the Saturday morning traffic. The post was posted Friday night at 11:35 p.m., and the flood of hits came about 8 am. to 10 a.m. the next morning. I suspect it was a combination of RSS readers and the in-paper refer placed with her op-ed column.

To quote the Dayton managing editor awhile back: "Google is now the front page of the newspaper."

I think it's gone beyond that, to software that monitors particular sites and updates readers with headlines pointing to new content (often called RSS, but not all the software is "real" RSS, and not all of it is complicated).
But that software isn't perfect: The latest posting to Mary's blog was up about noontime. My Google Reader did not update with the new posting until 3:30 p.m. That lag might not mean much for overnight postings aimed at readers' morning reading habits, but for real news monitoring, it's unforgivable. There might be settings at Blogger or elsewhere that can speed this up.
Update: I created a Facebook group, Potterblog Fan Club, to push the blog, as an exercise in driving traffic. It brought a couple of hits, one at 10:40 p.m. Monday night. The timing seems obvious, for anyone who knows teenagers. I have a hunch that traditional newspaper readers are the ones logging in and reading in the morning, and the non-traditional younger readers are primarily the ones visiting later at night. Generally.
The Facebook group is up to five members as of 10 a.m. Tuesday -- obviously, the key is connecting with those viral folks who have lots of friends, not Facebook newbies like me.

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