One shift many print people have to make when thinking about their magazine’s website is where readers come from. Unlike in print, website readers didn’t necessarily consciously choose that site (or brand) as their reading material, so they need to be approached differently than print readers.
There are three sources of site traffic: direct traffic (i.e., people who typed your URL into their browser), referrals (people clicking on links from other sites), and search engine traffic (people who typed a search term into a search engine – usually Google – and found content on your site there). The proportion of these visitors depends on the size and breadth of your site: larger sites with lots of content will typically receive a lot of traffic from links and search engines, whereas smaller sites with limited content (such as a small magazine’s site that’s geared toward subscriptions and customer service) will often have primarily direct traffic. You can find out where your traffic comes from – often in minute detail – by using tools such as Google Analytics.
It’s important to plan your content around your readership. If 75% of your traffic comes from links and search engines, you need to recognize that 75% of your site’s visitors probably don’t read the print magazine regularly – and maybe never will. This is a great opportunity for repurposing print content to get the most mileage out of it. These visitors may want to learn more about your brand – make use of this opportunity by adding an “about my magazine” section to your site that will teach them. Also consider approaching new visitors with offers to sign up for newsletters and RSS feeds – any way you can get them to return to your site.
Where do your readers come from? Do you think of your web audience in the same way as your print one?