Web Publisher PRO’s guide for publishers wanting to drive more traffic to breaking news stories
Digital publishers are at the forefront of local news coverage, but supporting this type of resource-heavy journalism requires significant revenue and a dedicated readership. While SEO is widely viewed as the main driver of overall website traffic, breaking news is an important part of the digital publisher’s stack.
Publishers who are investing resources into covering breaking news events need page views and engagement to make their coverage pay off. That requires finding new and creative ways to drive more traffic to breaking news stories.
The best way to build a steady stream of organic traffic is by publishing high-quality editorial content on a regular basis. While repurposing content and focusing on long-tail keywords is a strategy that works for some digital publishers, it’s not generally as effective for building engagement as covering breaking news stories. From natural disasters to local meetings and events, breaking news coverage drives traffic and reader subscriptions.
What do you do if your live coverage isn’t generating the traffic you expect? Try these strategies to drive more traffic to breaking news stories.
1. Email Blasts
Readers want to know about breaking news stories when they happen, not one week later when a publisher’s email newsletter goes out. One of the fastest ways to notify readers that something’s going on in real-time is by sending an email blast. An existing email newsletter database is a great resource here. Legacy publishers, like The New York Times, have even developed separate email lists for readers who are interested in receiving breaking news alerts.
The style and format of breaking news email alerts will vary by publisher. However, as a best practice, digital news publishers should consider keeping alert emails to 100 words in length. They should be sourced, and they should be written in the present tense.
2. Use Social Media
Social media was made for breaking news. Digital publishers who are looking to drive more traffic to breaking news stories should encourage their reporters to post in real-time on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as they are covering these events. That means a reporter who is on the scene of a crime or a traffic incident could be posting updates on Twitter with a link where followers can read more on the publication’s website.
As a best practice, it’s a good idea to take a look at which social media platforms are the greatest drivers of website traffic. The platforms with the most influence aren’t always driving the most traffic to publishers’ websites. It’s important to focus on those platforms that actually bring in traffic when promoting breaking news stories.
3. Bring Down Paywalls
Paywalls are a proven, effective tool for encouraging readers to subscribe. When it comes to driving traffic to breaking news stories, though, paywalls can actually be a hindrance. If your goal is to bring in new readers or serve your community at large, then consider bringing down the paywall around breaking news stories when important events are occuring. With a dynamic paywall model, you can leave up the paywall around most of your content while letting readers consume breaking news coverage for free. Another option is to remove all paywalls for a certain period of time, such as in the midst of a natural disaster or on election night. The hard paywall would then go back up once the news event was complete.
4. Try Mobile News Apps
Certain news apps, like SmartNews and Google News, can be effective traffic drivers for local news publishers. Which of these apps is likely to have the biggest impact on your own website traffic will depend on your unique readership. It’s also important to remember that most mobile news apps have their own requirements for publishers that want content to be included on those platforms, and some may focus more heavily on certain areas of coverage, like politics or sports. Publishers who want to make sure their articles are appearing in Google News should visit Google’s Publisher Center and follow these steps to get started.
For even more ideas about how to drive traffic to breaking news stories on your website, set up a consultation with Web Publisher PRO’s digital publishing team.