Online calendars promote digital engagement and keep visitors coming back for more. So why aren’t more digital publishers launching their own calendar products?
The answer, it seems, is a lack of awareness. At this point, the majority of digital publishers understand the benefits of add-on products. Business directories, job boards, and sponsored content are just a few of the ways that publishers are generating ancillary streams of revenue. But the most effective solution of all is also the one publishers know the least about.
Online calendars are usable, they are linkable, and they create a reason for website visitors to keep checking back for new information.
What Is an Online Calendar?
We all know what a personal calendar looks like. Most of us probably have Google Calendar or another calendar app on our smartphones. The online calendars that digital publishers are launching right now are a little different.
Depending on the publisher’s genre or niche, an online calendar will include listings for events happening in a particular location or industry. For example, a city magazine’s online calendar would likely include listings for upcoming theater shows and community events. A healthcare publisher’s calendar, meanwhile, would include listings for upcoming conferences and professional association meetings located around the globe.
In both of these instances, the publishers’ online calendars are free to users. Publishers can decide whether listings should be added for free, or whether they want to charge a nominal fee.
Event listings in an online calendar almost always include a catchy title, along with information like the date, time, location, and sponsoring organization. Many publishers will give organizations a way to upload related photos or videos to their event listings for an extra fee.
Publishers with the most sophisticated calendar systems give users the ability to add events to their personal Google calendars or export to other calendar apps.
How Do Publishers Use Online Calendars?
Digital publishers use online calendars as a way to generate revenue. They also use them to satisfy reader demand for local content, and to bring in more readers through search engine traffic.
Online calendars don’t cost a lot of money to put together, and they can usually be managed in just a few hours a week.
Most publishers allow organizations to add listings for free through a self-service portal. Depending on the monetization strategy, some publishers will also offer a full service option, manually creating listings for organizations in exchange for a one-time fee.
Publishers who don’t charge organizations to list events on their online calendars will typically support their calendars through business sponsorship. Local businesses will pay a premium to have their banner ads or display advertising run alongside a popular community calendar. Another sponsorship option, although lesser used, is to make sponsors’ listings visible whenever users search for events in specific locations or categories.
What Is a Premium Calendar?
A premium calendar is one that users must pay to access. Very rarely do community calendars fall into this category. It’s more common for industry-specific publishers to host premium calendars that are exclusive to their subscribers.
Do Online Calendars Generate Traffic?
Online calendars are not difficult to implement, and they can become a valuable resource for online audiences.
While the content in calendar listings will have minimal value from an SEO perspective, online calendars can still be excellent generators of inbound links. They are also known to generate substantial referral traffic, particularly for digital publishers with city and regional magazines or industry publications.
Because the content contained in most online calendars is limited, we recommend that publishers look for opportunities to link their calendars back to their original websites. For example, a listing for an upcoming theater production could link back to a review of that production or an article about the history of the theater itself.
Following the best practices for SEO is important when building an online calendar, but so is word-of-mouth. Community calendars are a valuable resource for people in local communities, and they offer yet another way for publishers to connect with their audience and provide a centralized source of information. How publishers ultimately chose to monetize that information—whether it’s through paid listings, display advertising, or sponsored search results—depends on their target audience and unique goals.