- Make sure your pages are crawlable. Most newspaper sites do just fine at this when it comes to news stories. But if your entertainment guide, discussion boards, classifieds and other such content are on database platforms that aren’t being crawled, you’re leaving free traffic on the table.
- Don’t rely on the front page. While most people start at the front page of a print newspaper, many of your online readers come directly into stories through searches, emails, IMs, etc. Showcase your best (and most current) content on each page in a continuously updated section.
- Don’t require registration just to read stories. People want to consume your content; don’t keep them from it. If I hit a registration wall, I usually go away. If I really want to read the story, I’ll try BugMeNot. (Note that the top 5 sites on bugmenot.com are newspaper sites.) I have to really, really, really want to read the story to register. And in that case I’ll give fake information. At the very least, if you require registration, make sure that traffic that comes from search engines or bookmarks at least gets the first few stories registration free.
- Don’t expire content (unless you have to for licensing reasons). When I blog, I try not to link to stories from The New York Times because I know that after 7 days my readers won’t be able to see the story unless they pay for it. I usually try to find a similar story in The Washington Post because they don’t expire content. More inbound links mean higher search engine placement. Storage is cheap; it doesn’t cost much to keep old stories around. If you’re concerned about cannibalizing archives revenue, let users read a set amount of archived content a month free. (Casual readers won’t pay you for the articles anyway.)
- Make sure you have feeds. In the early days of the online news business we thought we could get users to set the newspaper site as the homepage. The ship has sailed on that. Make sure that users who have set their homepage to MyYahoo, iGoogle and other portals can see your content easily by creating feeds of your content. Let them slice and dice to fit their particular tastes – just news for a specific town, a sports team, a columnist, etc. The Post does a great job of this.
- Make it easy to find all work by your key columnists. I would love to see a page that revolves around Tom Siestema’s dining reviews or Neal Justin’s TV columns, that is easily accessible from all stories written by them. This page should contain recent articles, contact information, RSS feeds and email alerts.
- Make sure your pages are bookmarkable. Much of the content I read is from blogs that reference them and emailed/IMed links. Sites like del.icio.us and digg also need static URLs. A “bookmark this” link that generates a custom URL isn’t good enough; users should be able to cut-and-paste from the browser address bar.
- Don’t split stories across pages. It may get you more page views (and ad impressions) from a single user, but it’s a bad user experience. Don’t care so much about that? There are more selfish reasons. Stories split across multiple pages won’t get indexed correctly by search engines. They are also less likely to rise to the surface on social sites if users bookmark or tag different pages of the story.
I am the CEO of redesignmobile.
I frequently write for VentureBeat. I also talk about technology on Bloomberg TV and CNBC. I have also written for TechCrunch and GigaOm.
I have special expertise in small business, social networking and mobile payments.
I am probably best known for my critique of Groupon and the daily deals space.
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- Is there a tool that will let me search the bios of my followers? 19 hours ago
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- In my first dine-and-dash experience with OpenTable, even the server was onboard with it February 12, 2014
- Why I love Twitter — and why that might not matter February 6, 2014
- Google could still win social — by redefining what social means February 5, 2014
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- What UberX’s new lower pricing means for the transportation market January 11, 2014
- Two pictures that illustrate 12 years of change in technology (and the increasing irrelevance of CES) January 10, 2014
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- Is it true, as Fast Company wrote recently, that Square is "no longer the high-flying startup it once was" (August 2014)?
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- The death of nuance: Komen, ALS and Uber
- PR tip: Don’t use a celebrity’s death to pitch your company
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- The smartest question I was asked by an entrepreneur and team member
- Why I retweet racist assholes
- Social media and the new world of work — my take
- Batkid, San Francisco and my brother’s experience with the Make-A-Wish foundation
- Why I’m joining OLO’s advisory board
- A few thoughts on customer service
- A look at Groupon's extremely lopsided merchant agreement
- A sample Groupon merchant agreement
- Groupon, LivingSocial and daily deals - merchant FAQ
- Answers from the Insurance Information Institute on Airbnb
- Because manholes are round
- Best practices for businesses considering Groupon, LivingSocial or Google Offers
- Technology's effects on our language
- LivingSocial merchant agreement
- Revised Groupon merchant agreement
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