Strong election coverage will bring in traffic to your site. This is a good thing. You want more people coming to your site, listening to your audio, reading your stories and looking to you for the latest election updates.
The good news is that if your station is already producing robust election web stories, the hard part is done. Content is the engine for traffic -- without it you can forget about getting much of a spike (at least not one that will last long). Your focus shouldn't be on boosting traffic, but rather on creating quality content and using metrics to learn more about your visitors.
But there are steps you can take to make sure your site is in a good position to garner a big audience.
- Use tags. Well before election day you should come up with the tags you’ll be using to organize your election content -- “2012 presidential election,” “city mayor” … Tags help make your content search-friendly and to categorize your stories.
- Are you in Google News? You should be. If you haven’t submitted your site yet, there’s no time like the present (here’s where to get started). This is especially crucial during elections when a lot of people will be using search to find out results. You want your site to be in the mix.
- Linking is important. Linking is another thing Google likes, and it also helps the user access more of your content. Make sure to provide lots of links to related stories and don’t be afraid of linking out to other sites.
- Photos are important, too. Mainly, we like photos because they add a visual element for your audience, but photos also help make your stories more visible in search.
- Be social. Along with search, Twitter and Facebook are other places many many people will be looking for information. Make sure you have a social plan that utilizes relevant hashtags. Oh, and inbound links from social networks also help make your site more search-friendly.
- Build out stories. Once you get a visitor to your site, you want to offer up a full content meal -- text, audio and photos. Link to related content and, where it’s appropriate, include videos with your stories.
- Chartbeat/Google Analytics Realtime. Don’t get caught up in the numbers, but it’s a good idea to have one of these two up and running on election day so you know if a story goes wild. If you don’t have alerts set up (for example when traffic surpasses x visits, you get an e-mail), this would be a good time to do so. Both Chartbeat and Google Analytics Real-Time can do that.