Most local online editors are still in training on SEO strategies, but not yet thinking about why people share. Jack Krawczyk of StumbleUpon, (one of the possible sharing icons like Digg and Facebook) is in a unique position, having studied analytics of 1.2 billion referrals.
"There are two reasons why people share: 1. I find value and 2. If you find value you wil think more highly of me."
"They are looking for something they can share with their friends" that will be enhancing and so that they grow in their friends estimation.
So what works? If Google is all about key words and links, sharing is all about user-experience: ie highly consumable visuals.
How does he know? Across 1.2 billion referrals every one, "99% of pages are not home page but a piece of content, and the top performers, when you go to Facebook because of your friend, if you click again, it needs a photo."
Here are a few tips from the expert:
1. Slides shows. What is it about a slide show that gets shared? It's highly visually consumable.
2. Top 5 or ten lists "always kill it," Krawczyk says. Simple story break-downs such as "$30 best properties over $30 million" work better as a list.
3. Having a rich visual element at the top of the articles. "That’s what hooks them. (Sharing) is all about having a rich visual when you get to that page. The picture converts them. Just giving all stories a visual will help maximize sharing.
4. Subheads, summaries and other visual cues to what is in the article. Again, information that is visually easy to digest is going to do better, even if that means the way the article pages are laid out. "That is the way the New Yorker builds their page; there is always a visual and a quick synapse of what you are going to read with out an ad" at the top of the web page.
5. Include a variety of share buttons. Of course, he recommends Stumbleupon, which he says results in an average 21% lift for media companies that use the button at the top of stories.
Conversely, some other objectives, such as putting ads on the top half of the site, dampen reader sharing. So stick to the minimum number and keep especially low cost ads like Google Adsense, off of the tops of pages.
The key element here is that traffic is moving sideways, and the what makes people share is really more about user experience than, neccesarily, key words.
Tech tip: Krawczyk using a tool called Usertesting.com to check user experience continuously, something that local media sites rarely do. it's geekie, but also cool. Users (which could be just a group of friends) record themselves with their voice when they get to a page. Give them a task such as "You want to find what is playing in the local theater," and find out what happens. You will uncover things about your user experience. "We use it at least once a week on Stumbleupon."
"The context is larger than Google now. Social media is referring people directly into the content. Search is not irrelevant, its just not the only thing to focus on."
The author, Alisa Cromer is publisher of a variety of online media, including LocalMediaInsider and MediaExecsTech, developed while on a fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute and which has evolved into a leading marketing company for media technology start-ups. In 2017 she founded Worldstir.com, an online magazine, to showcases perspectives from around the world on new topic each month, translated from and to the top five languages in the world.
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