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May traffic to latimes.com second only to March 2011

Memo from Managing Editor Jimmy Orr about May 2011 traffic to latimes.com:

Another great month at latimes.com.  More and more people are reading our journalism than ever before. 

May 2011 was the second-most-trafficked month in the history of the site.  Sound familiar?  We said the same thing last month.  And like April, May was about consistency rather than a big spike or two.  No big, big jumps in traffic on any one day in May.  Instead, consistent, balanced growth told the tale.

We recorded 189.5 million page views in May.  This is only 6 million page views shy of our record posted this past March and more than 30 million page views higher than April’s output.

We’re on a good track.  Consider this:

  • In 2009, we averaged 3 days per month where we hit 5 million page views.
  • In 2010, we averaged 3.8 days per month where we hit over 5 million page views.
  • In March of this year, 17 days surpassed 5 million.
  • In April of this year, 17 days surpassed 5 million.
  • Last month, 24 days surpassed 5 million.

Progress

How are we getting there?  Many ways.  Search traffic is stronger than ever – almost double the amount from this time last year.

With a coordinated refocus on search (thanks, Mark McGonigle, Loree Matsui and the entire copy desk team), search traffic has exploded.  Consider May 2010.  Traffic from Google resulted in 21.8 million page views.  May 2011?  Traffic from Google resulted in 41.7 million page views. 

Search is not dead.  It remains an important part of our strategy.  Every visitor is important.

"No Story Left Behind"

Once people come to our site, it’s vital they stick around.  We’ve been focusing on increasing page views per visit. 

We were on a downturn here.  After averaging nearly 7.5 page views per visit (for people coming directly to latimes.com) from 2008 to mid-2009, that number fell almost 2 full page views over the last two years.  We’ve been able to bring it up to nearly 7 page views per visit again.

How?  One way is through the affectionately titled "No Story Left Behind" initiative.  It’s crucial that our stories be fully "built-out." That means every story gets a photo and interesting related content. 

When readers visit latimes.com, they’ve made a vote.  They’re telling us they are interested in our journalism.  If we make it easy for them to see more of our journalism, they’ll respond.  Thus, the importance of making sure we offer pertinent and interesting related content with every story.

Facebook

Social media traffic continues to hit new records.  Reader engagement is vital.  We like Facebook.  Facebook enables our readers to share the stories they like with their friends.  And through enabling Facebook Comments on many of our blogs, we’ve provided a more civil atmosphere for user engagement while generating a new distribution channel for our journalism.

Megan at the helm

Home page traffic is growing steadily.  This is due to Megan Garvey and the home page crew’s insistence that our home page is updated all the time.  When news breaks, we have it.  The home page will always look fresh.  New photos, new stories.  And if a story isn’t built out with related content, Megan sends it back.

Exclusive to the Web

Of course, none of the above could happen without our journalism and without content written specifically for the Web.

Frequency counts.  Instead of updating existing stories, we’ve been writing new ones.  This doesn’t mean we won’t have a comprehensive story on a topic.  Of course, we will.  But we’re writing plenty of up-to-date, shorter posts that augment the running version.  These quick, short posts are friendlier for the Web/tablet world.

Politics Now

The announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death is a good example.  From the moment Mike Memoli let our readers know President Obama would be having a news conference to the dozens-plus stories that peppered the website shortly after, our Washington, D.C., bureau provided the most comprehensive coverage of the event on the Internet. 

Show Tracker

The team over at Show Tracker did the same thing throughout the month of May with unsurpassed coverage of "American Idol," "The Biggest Loser," and "Dancing With the Stars."  With previews, recaps, and exclusives, Martin Miller’s team provided the best Web-only coverage available, and traffic soared to new highs.

Sports

Through focusing on our online readers, Mike James and his Sports department drove record numbers, going from 14.8 million page views in May 2010 to more than 23 million this past month.  Where did people go to read about the Pacquiao-Mosley fight?  The Fabulous Forum.  The real-time, round-by-round blog posts generated more than 400K page views in a little over an hour.  Lance Pugmire owned the fight.

UGC

Jason La’s focus on reader engagement is impressive.  We want readers to tell us and show us what’s going on in their world.  Page views from user-generated photos continue to increase, going from less than 1 million in January to 4.7 million in May.

Continued success

How do we keep going?  By keeping our foot on the gas pedal.  Our exclusive online content is key.  We best serve our online readers by giving them the stories they want in real time.  And we’re doing that.  Our blog traffic has never been higher.  At nearly 56 million page views, we’ve more than doubled our blog traffic from May 2010.

In fact, this is the first time that eight blogs surpassed at least 2 million page views.  Compare this to March 2011, when eight blogs surpassed 1.4 million for the first time.  In May 2010, only one blog topped 2 million.

Better tracking will help us sustain this readership.  To that end, we continue to encourage individual bloggers to reach out to us for information on their respective blogs.  Traffic numbers, referral domains, and SEO/social media reports can provide valuable perspective.

Infrastructure and readability

To make sure our exclusive online content is being read, we’ve partnered with two outside firms.  One is helping us with our infrastructure.  The experts there are helping us fine-tune the site for optimal performance in search and social media.  After an extensive audit, they identified 17 main categories where we – with adjustments – can improve performance.

In the second area, readability and usability, we just wrapped up focus group testing of our site with one of the world’s top firms in that field.  That team will identify where we need to make the site a better reading experience through design and presentation changes.  Through this data, our readers will directly influence future design changes.  The reader comes first.

Now to the tale of the tape:

Top 10 Blogs

  1. Framework:  14,660,536
  2. L.A. Now:  9,603,004
  3. Show Tracker:  4,215,106
  4. Politics Now:  3,356,536
  5. Ministry of Gossip:  2,733,775
  6. Hero Complex:  2,220,425
  7. Technology:  2,140,178
  8. Top of the Ticket:  2,053,393
  9. Fabulous Forum:  1,870,092
  10. Lakers Blog:  1,799,947

Record-breaking blogs

  • L.A. Now
  • Show Tracker
  • Politics Now
  • Hero Complex
  • 24 Frames
  • Opinion L.A.
  • L.A. at Home

Top five blog posts/articles

  1. "Supreme Court orders California to release tens of thousands of prison inmates" (David G. Savage).  511,080
  2. "Mummified body of former Playboy Playmate found" (Andrew Blankstein).  426,413
  3. "Schwarzenegger fathered a child with longtime member of household staff" (Mark Z. Barabak and Victoria Kim).  357,447
  4. "Obama announces Osama bin Laden killed by U.S." (Michael A. Memoli, Michael Muskal).  350,407
  5. "Angelenos furious over special 'Gold Card' for traffic tickets" (Ari Bloomekatz and Ann M. Simmons).  345,557 

 

 
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Comments (3)

I totally wish that LATines.com would break its ties with Facebook. I want to just read the paper without lining the pockets of some 28 year old billionaire.

Good work folks...keep it up.

Dear Jimmy Orr:

How about giving readers the option of posting directly to the site if they are not Facebook users? That way you don't alienate any readers.

I can't post on those exclusive pages, but I sure can read the comments, and, frankly, a lot of them read as though they were posted by children "under 13 years of age." Is that the kind of discourse you're pursuing these days?

You wrote: ...through enabling Facebook Comments on many of our blogs, we’ve provided a more civil atmosphere for user engagement.

OK. It's your website, but that is tantamount to censorship, a policy that bears heavily against the mission of the web as an information platform.

If you continue to increase the exclusion zones on the site you will begin to lose some of those page views you just finished crowing about.

I can't speak to the journalistic advantages of this policy, but I can tell you that losing readership is bad for business. How much more can it cost to furnish two gateways for commenting? A few lines of code?

The LA Times is a great news organization, one that is quickly catching up to the New York Times as America's paper, and in some instances, has already eclipsed it.

Comment access is the only issue I have with the LAT, and I'm sure I'm not alone in this regard. Surely, some accommodation can be worked out by some of those clever people you have working for you.

That's my last word on this topic.


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