With each new year, there are new opportunities for traffic-driving platforms to pop onto the scene. Some don’t last, but others push through to become traffic game-changers. We’ve taken a look at the past 12 months and the many sources that make up our publisher partner’s traffic portfolios to report to you an updated list of the ones you should be focusing on.
It’s no secret we focus a lot on SEO around here. And why wouldn’t we when over 50% of the traffic to our network comes from Google organic search? It’s great to see new partners enter the SHE Media Partner Network with strong search traffic. Many of the best practices a website follows in order to align with Google organic search guidelines, puts them in better standing with other traffic sources, as well. Users have evolved, whether on Google search results or another web platform. They want accurate headlines, useful information, and interesting voices.
It’s best for publishers to have a healthy diversification of traffic makeup, to avoid the ole ‘all eggs in one basket’ type fiasco if a certain source updates their algorithm and you’re negatively impacted. Here are some other traffic source suggestions for publishers to consider.
Anyone watching traffic trends would have noticed the “COVID curve” that started mid-March and returned back to normal (whatever that is!) around the end of May. This was particularly the case for topics like recipes, DIY, home organization, streaming services, at-home workouts, and new school routines. The inconsistent traffic from Facebook was very much consistent during the first few months of quarantine.
Trouble seems to follow the brand, and it hasn’t always been the stablest of sources, but based on the traffic numbers we saw our partners receive in 2020, Facebook is still a place for community, content consumption, and building a loyal audience.
What they’ve been up to this year:
Speaking for the general blogger community here, but rough year for Pinterest. Starting in January with a harsh algorithm update attacking “spammers” (READ: publishers who were over-pinning) that left many bloggers with suspended accounts and a sharp decline in Pinterest impressions. From there, months were spent updating and re-communicating their guidelines and recommendations, attempting to pivot the publisher strategy. From what I could gather, traffic hasn’t fully returned to what it once was.
Even so, Pinterest was the 4th largest traffic driver to our network in 2020 and should remain a place where publishers put their focus. People turn to Pinterest for ideas and typically (97% of the time!) don’t have a brand in mind. We will continue to work with our partners on their Pinterest strategy and on driving traffic from the platform. If you’re still using a personal account for your blog content, consider switching over to the Business account. With it comes the ability to add rich snippets to your pins, and you also get access to additional data insights.
What they’ve been up to this year:
Think of these next three (Smart News, Flipboard and Newsbreak) as News Feeds. These platforms began taking off over the last few years and have driven millions of pageviews to publishers ever since. All three are primarily app-based and require a steady stream of new content creation to be accepted. If accepted, submit an RSS feed for your content and set up your profile. Smart News and Newsbreak are heavier on the news side, while Flipboard has more content on the lifestyle side.
Apply for Smart News here.
Similar to Flipboard, News Break allows you to publish articles by either manually uploading content or by providing an RSS Feed. Users access the content from an app on their phone. It’s also important to note that Smart News, Flipboard and News Break do not pull in the full article. They post a small description of the content and then link over to the full piece on the publisher’s website.
Register for Newsbreak here.
Flipboard is used by millions of people daily to discover and share stories. From either the mobile app or a Chrome extension, a user with a Flipboard account can “flip” an article into one of their pre-built “magazines”. The magazines are similar to Pinterest boards and are generally dedicated to a topic or a content vertical. Publishers who are enrolled in their program submit RSS feeds for their content to be automatically ingested into the platform. Flipboard favors publishers (and content) who are utilizing Google’s AMP page format.
Details on their publisher program here.
For all three of these news aggregate platforms, customer support remains the largest challenge for publishers. Getting direct contact is close to impossible and even if you can, response time isn’t ideal.
New to the list this year and a new trend that gained traction altogether were push notifications. This technology sends notifications of new content published to a user’s desktop or mobile screen. From there, the user can click directly to the content. For news sites or sites offering any time-sensitive information, push notifications can be very effective.
Newsletters weren’t on the list last year, but since have become our seventh-highest traffic source. Oft underrated, the newsletter audience is one of the most loyal and therefore, valuable. In their busy days, these users have chosen to sign up to receive your emails. Treat this audience kindly by only blasting them with information, products, and content you believe will truly resonate with them. Choose your words and messaging wisely and this can be a long-term traffic source.
Google allows all sites equal opportunity to be included under Top Stories and in their News Section. There are, of course, some tips to increase the chances your content will be used in these locations:
- You must be publishing news
- Your posts must have an author listed on the page
- Unique content
- Google AMP pages may be slightly favored, but it’s not a requirement
Google News can be seen in your GA account under referral traffic.
With the addition of swipe up links and link-in-bio tools, Instagram traffic is on the rise. Most link-in-bio tools have a cost associated with them, but SHE Media Partners are eligible for a free upgraded Silver account with Tap.bio. If you’re a partner and haven’t taken advantage of this yet, e-mail us today for your registration link. Another option for a free link-in-bio tool is LinkTree. If you’re not already using a tool to drive traffic from IG posts, we definitely recommend checking one out.
It’s common on publisher sites to see modules on article webpages that show a handful of content recommendations, typically relevant to the content the user is on. There are many benefits to content recirculation: additional traffic, exposure to a similar audience, links to your content to name a few.
Content syndication and guest blogging can be looked at the same way: there are benefits to doing this, but oftentimes, traffic isn’t one of them. Content syndication is when you partner with another relevant site and have them post your content to their blog. There are best practices to follow, such as using the canonical tag to avoid duplicate content, but this can be a great approach to get brand exposure.
Google Discover refers to a feed of content that populates on the Chrome mobile app, based on a user’s search history. To find this content feed, go to your phone, open your Chrome app as if you’re going to search for something on Google. Below the search bar, there may appear a list of content suggestions. This is Google Discover. In GA, it’s classified under referral traffic and a user is only served these suggestions when they’re logged into G-Mail. You can’t apply, nor can you optimize for, which is likely why the general interest from publishers isn’t much. It’s best to think of this as incremental Google traffic, but never to count on it. It’s just not consistent and fully tied to the chances of a reader using the Chrome app.
Twitter can be an excellent source of traffic for our news, sports, and entertainment partners, but with the heavy number of lifestyle bloggers in our network, it’s typically not a top referrer. Journalists were early adopters of Twitter and continue to be some of the most active participants on the platform.
For best practices and publisher resources, visit Twitter Media.
Guest blogging refers to publishing unique content of your own onto another site. Partners frequently ask if this method is ok to use and it definitely can be. There are guidelines to follow, such as using a canonical tag and linking to the original source from the article. And make sure you’re requesting several related links back to your own site and only engage with sites you trust and would want your name associated with. Guest blogging can build your brand authority and expertise.
On the Horizon
Google Web Stories! “Stories”, in various video forms, have been everywhere in 2020. Instagram Stories, Story Pins, TikTok, Reels, and Google Web (formerly AMP) Stories. So far, it’s mostly been our flagship properties using Google Stories, and the traffic has been sub-par. The jury is still out on the traffic driving ability for some of these platforms but we are keeping a close watch.
Diversifying your traffic must be a priority for publishers. There is too much at stake to only perform in one area. When one platform’s algorithm update can tank your revenue, you’re too reliant on that traffic source. Since algorithm updates can be drastic, by having multiple sources drive traffic, you won’t be as panicked with each new update. If you’re a SHE Media publisher and have questions, reach out to us here.
For more information on traffic sources, check out Your Guide to Google Analytics Traffic Sources.
Originally published on May 8, 2020.
The SHE Media Partner Network helps content creators and entrepreneurs build sustainable businesses with dedicated support for managing ads, brand partnerships, and more. Apply now to join our mission-driven platform.