Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Big numbers for theorion.com at midterm

The Orion got off to an excellent start this semester when members of the news staff started updating theorion.com website two weeks before classes started in January. That commitment to getting information to the audience in a hurry continued week after week, ending this past couple of days with excellent mobile-first coverage of the Cesar Chavez Day weekend.

While the website didn't have as much traffic as it did in February (mostly because traffic fell off during spring break), it continued to have amazing "stickiness," with 11.6 pages viewed per visit. That's one more page per visit than in February and four times more than a typical professional news site.

Not all the news is good. Despite a strong effort from the PR staff to increase the paper's social media presence, referrals to theorion.com from Facebook were down drastically, from about 6,200 to 3,436.

Chalk some of that up to interest in soft news over hard. February's top web stories were a feature about a student who started a safe-ride-home service that had 2,230 visits and a feature about the university farm, 1,549 visits. March's most-read stories were about a bag of marijuana recovered in the parking structure (1,120 visits), Cesar Chavez Day coverage (1,036) and the drug and alcohol findings for the driver of a fatal car crash (850).

Despite smaller numbers on the website overall in March, visits to the sports section were up about 150 from February. I'm guessing strong finishes by the Wildcat men's and women's basketball teams (and strong coverage of both) helped that number.

The most exciting statistic, though, is the overall traffic growth from last semester to this. The number of page visits on the site this spring is averaging about 10,000 a month more than last fall (37,460 on average vs. about 27,000)! Chalk that up to a much-improved website and a commitment to digital-first journalism.

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