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Less content, more traffic. Who knew?

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Kerry LauermanKerry Lauerman, Editor-in-Chief at Salon.com, blogged a surprising statistic this week | 33 percent fewer posts on Salon brought 40 percent greater traffic, year on year. That’s right: 33 percent less content, 40 percent more traffic.

That’s not in the script. What happened?

Lauerman says that – completely against the trend for more content, faster – Salon slowed down its process.

We’ve tried to work longer on stories for greater impact, and publish fewer quick-takes that we know you can consume elsewhere. We’re actually publishing, on average, roughly one-third fewer posts on Salon than we were a year ago (from 848 to 572 in December; 943 to 602 in January).

The Salon EIC pitches this more thoughtful approach against an obsessive focus on traffic and talks about the efforts Salon made to increase output while cutting staff by cutting story length |

In its best form, we wrote short little decoders of a big  story, and tried to link generously to the original source. At its worst, we monitored Twitter and Google for trending topics, and dispatched an intern to cobble together our own summary, posted it quickly, then prayed to the Google gods that the effort would win, if only briefly, their favor.

Lauerman bemoans the pressures of the last ten years on journalists to “second-guess everything we know” and celebrates Salon’s return to it’s primary mission of “originality”.

Before you abandon digital’s drive for fresh content and return to print-era publishing schedules, a quick reality check. Even on its reduced story count Salon serves its seven million visitors around 600 pieces of fresh content each month.  There’s no question that you’re going to have to publish more frequently that you used to – it’s the only way to get the attention of your audience and Google’s algorithms. But maybe Kerry Lauerman just gave you permission to think again about the value of what you are posting as much as the volume and to re-consider quality alongside quantity.

Read Kerry Lauerman’s original blog post, “Hit Record”, here.

Written by Peter Houston

February 8, 2012 at 12:58 pm

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