Traffic to news sites increasingly comes in through the side doors, that is, from search and social means.
Adrienne LaFrance recently wrote on this very topic for Nieman Lab:
As with newspapers – which haven’t so much disappeared as been pushed off center stage – few are saying that homepages will disappear completely. But as more people enter news sites sideways – via search engines, links they see in emails, or via Facebook and Twitter – newsrooms are finding their homepages aren’t the starting points they once were.
Her piece goes on to highlight Google’s Richard Gingras who espouses “more focus on the story page” rather than the home page.
Consider the verdict on the Apple/Samsung legal battle that came down last week. The percent of people that plugged something like [Apple Samsung lawsuit] into Google or clicked a link via social was dramatically higher than those who went directly to their favorite news site. Furthermore, as people search on this topic for months or even years to come, SEO and social will determine who goes where.
Tuning stories like those reporting on the Apple/Samsung litigation to account for this dynamic is what Gingras means by a “story page.” The general concept has relevance to communicators or anyone involved in marketing for that matter.
We’ve been saying for some time that companies can strengthen their online presence by adding “digital doors” that supplement their overall website. A company’s website by definition has to cover so much ground, it’s difficult to tune content for a specific topic so it stands out enough to bring traffic through that side door.
Again, it’s revealing to look at Google, which knows a thing or two about fortifying online real estate.
Rather than hang a section off of www.google.com for its VC arm, the company established a separate site at www.googleventures.com.
This way, the company can achieve tighter alignment between keywords and content.
Those keywords have no prayer of attracting traffic diffused across www.Google.com, but plug “startup lab” into a search engine, and Google Ventures shows up on page 1.
One final point on the storytelling front –
The narrative on the Google Ventures home page used to say:
We are a diverse team of investors, entrepreneurs, and specialists who believe in the power of great companies to change the world.
Their latest iteration shares:
Our hands-on teams work with portfolio companies full-time on design, recruiting, marketing, and engineering. Startup Lab is a dedicated facility and educational program where companies can meet, learn, work, and share. We invest hundreds of millions of dollars each year in entrepreneurs with a healthy disregard for the impossible.
No question, this version is more compelling, applying storytelling techniques and seeing the world through the eyes of a new venture.
Love the phrase, “with a healthy disregard for the impossible.”
Perhaps we should be calling these types of sites “story doors,” not “digital doors.”
Note: For more on “story doors,” check out “Revisiting SEO and the Toyota PR Crisis.”