Online editor’s toolbox
Reproducing online what reporters write for a newspaper doesn’t cut it on the web.
Unless perhaps the person who reads the paper hasn’t read the web version the previous afternoon. Or, the updated newspaper version hasn’t been posted on the web yet.
But really, it’s easy to offer a bit more online and publishers should make the most of the digital medium. Try these to start:
- Add hyperlinks
- Package related content
- Promote it
But, make sure all you do is relevant and adds insight – that’s the trick. Here’s how:
These are not hard – find something relevant and related at that adds value or moves the story forward and link to it. Aim to add value or perspective. Think about:
- other stories on your site
- stories on other sites – yes, send people away from your site
- original documents and reports
- insightful comment and analysis
- share prices or other real-time data
Sound editorial judgment is vital here. There is little point hyperlinking to Oxfam’s ‘Other worlds are possible’ report and sending people to a homepage from which they need to find the report. Take them there directly. See the difference? Even better, upload the PDF to your site if you can.
And make sure the links you choose reinforce the editorial and brand values of your site. You want to build trust with your reader, so they do come back for more. If they know the links you give are useful and reliable, they are more likely to hit the back button.
Good packaging can drive traffic. By aggregating related content in one place you make it easier for people to follow an ongoing story. And giving your ‘microsite’ a recognisable URL helps optimise for search. Many of the major news sites are doing this. Check out:
In Depth: Financial Times
Environment and Media: Guardian.co.uk
Times Topics: New York Times
Hot Topics: CNN
What these pages do is aggregate content on topics or news themes. The packages contain stories, images, video, flash graphics, polls, forums and blogs. They are multimedia and interactive microsites. They generally have memorable URLs and some provide an RSS feed.
By tagging and publishing your content to these pages at the same time as the main site keeps them updated and relevant. Then you need to tell readers they exist.
How do your users enter your site? Do they go to the homepage then navigate through? Or do they enter somewhere else and not go to the homepage at all? Traffic data will tell you this, as well as where users came from – via Google or directly, for example.
The point is that a user won’t necessarily go to your homepage to find what they are after, so you need to highlight your content throughout the site. So, after you publish, promote the post/video/interactive feature on other parts of your site and on social media. This might mean creating a new file or component that links back to the original. Maybe you’ve got a promotion section on your home page or a there is a related category page. Or, it might mean tweeting the new offering or updating a social network page – Facebook, LinkedIn?
The aim is to tell people about you content and make it easily accessible.