Few Website Visitors To Rural Newspaper Websites
Tonight I decided to do some competitive analysis comparing traffic to certain towns and areas in Missouri to the competing newspaper website in the area.
I had done this for a few towns before but this time I did so on a larger scale, I cannot say I looked at every newspaper site but enough where I could spot trends in data enough where I felt comfortable making certain assumptions.
Well, a couple things were made real clear:
- Sites that had RSS feeds and were open to syndication had more traffic than those that did not, this makes sense to me but knowing how the media industry feels about that it does not surprise me that many do not offer RSS feeds.
- In the cases that it was evident they were doing other things to promote the site (i.e .promoting it in their own paper…) there was more traffic.
Without a doubt as rural broadband stimulus pushed broadband deeper into the rural areas these newspaper companies are going to falter fast, right now the rural papers are the only ones holding steady but from talking to small businesses the desperation is even starting to be felt in the small areas.
To give you an idea of how low the traffic stats are, a really large portion of the sites had Alexa rankings of 20 million to 10 million, the next larger amount was between 7 to 5 million. VERY few had Alexa rankings below 1 million. The ones that did were major cities.
To be honest I am not a fan of Alexa rankings since I have enough sites to see how the data can be skewed, but in a case like this where the user base is pretty non-tech savvy the rankings cannot be gamed, makes for a cleaner set of data, but still not perfect, but fine for this test.
Now, what may not be clear is that many of these newspapers cover more than one county, so it is not like the customer base is only 5 thousand people.
One thing I did find is the sites that have taken the time to form community/social interactions on the site are fairing much better.
If these sites cannot figure out how to bring more than a few visitors to their site a day they will not be able to keep advertisers, it is obvious they are fighting the battle to keep the status quo and if they do not figure something out quick they may be gone faster than we expected.
It may sound like I look forward to that, I do not, as much as I am building a business to take advantage of the shift it is actually a bit sad to see an industry fall apart because they refused to innovate and I do think their will be some quality journalism that suffers because of this.
One interesting note is I found one local newspaper in a town of less than 9000 that had an Alexa below 300K but then one in a town of over 30K that had an Alexa around 7 million. Seems if you have a plan and the community gets behind it you can get traction. Small town or not people are online and broadband is coming fast.