The news hub – are we even a spoke?

I’ve spent some time this afternoon looking at our web traffic for this week, mainly because our unique user numbers have quadrupled thanks to Laplandgate.

It’s always interesting to see the kind of links people follow to get to us – and, I think, important in terms of working out which networks we should be part of and how our audience consumes its news.

What it often shows is how little attention they pay to our beloved brand name. The idea that we’re at the centre of the news wheel and all roads lead to us is nonsense.

What happens is that everyone’s at the centre of their own wheel. People send them links, and they follow them. They google things. They search YouTube. We even had some clickthroughs this month from a Twitter search.

Our biggest referrer was a Norwegian newspaper. Why they picked us to link to rather than our Southampton sister or any of the national stories I’m not sure (although it probably demonstrates the important of tagging and SEO to make sure we’re top of that Google list.)

We also had refers from countless blogs, forums and a weird spike for a columnist writing about Gordon Ramsay (all the traffic for the last coming via Google News).

I’ve been trying to build an online audience for said columnist for weeks, but so far we’ve only managed a few dozen RSS subscribers and a trickle of page impressions.

Now obviously I realise this week is an anomaly. But the point is refers come to us from the strangest places and we can’t actively be in all of them, or second guess where our traffic will come from. We also can’t assume that people who find us in the obvious places want what we have to offer.  Our Lapland videos have won our YouTube channel variously most watchedin the UK honours (reporter) and most viewed UK news and politics video honours this week.  Our overall video views have doubled.  have any of those people clicked through to our story or petition? According to our software, no. Not one. They know the story. They’re just looking for the laugh.

So what do we do? I guess we just have to make sure we’re in the most obvious places, link as much as we can (in-site and externally) and be sure to plug RSS all over the place.

Then we *might* make ourselves a spoke in that wheel.  A skinny one.  But a spoke nonetheless.

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