How I’m surviving my first year as adviser: Increasing Pageviews

This week, the website I advise, Niles West News, received its 100,000th pageview. Considering our site went live less than five months ago, I am pretty proud. This was a huge milestone for my staff–and I think they now realize that people are actually reading/viewing their work! Our principal is even throwing us a party next week to celebrate.

So how did we do it? Here are 10 ways to increase your website’s total pageviews:

1. Restaurant Reviews + Gift Cards=Lots of Comments.

My reviews editor is responsible for contacting local restaurants or businesses that students frequent and asking them if they would be willing to donate a gift card in exchange for some “free” advertising. She writes a review of the restaurant and then encourages students to comment by enticing them with a free gift card. If a student comments, their name is entered into the contest. We select all winners through a website called random.org, which makes it fair and unbiased. You can check out one of our reviews and note the 37 comments. More comments obviously equal more pageviews.

2. Controversy Where You Least Expect It

I love being surprised by a story. Recently, we ran two stories that I–as an adult–didn’t think would get much response: one was a column about Facebook status games; and the other was a review of a Mexican restaurant (without a gift card) in which the writer said it was “better than Chipotle.” Both these articles garnered many comments: 20 and 34, respectively.  But what was even more surprising was their pageview counts. These two articles are in the top-five of our all-time content pageview totals (for posts). The lesson my staff learned was that readers like to have something to disagree with.

3. The Alumni Blog

Every few weeks, we ask an alum to contribute, by offering advice to seniors about college and the real world. He or she also writes about his or her life since graduation. The blog is very popular with the teachers. Plus, it brings alumni to our site–and a wider audience because, of course, links spread through social media quicker than I can type this sentence. Here’s an example of an alumni blog.

4. Social Media (Duh.) / What are People Talking About?

Anyone who’s done this for awhile will give you this same advice. You need social media to increase your pageviews. It’s a must. But how do you use it? That’s a topic that we address here often. Here’s what we’ve done:

Facebook is King. Twenty percent of our pageviews come from a Facebook referral. I remember being at NSPA/JEA conference last April and Leland Mallett, an adviser of the Rider Online, said 60 percent of their pageviews came from Facebook. What about the rest of you?

Facebook is great for links, but it’s best for starting conversations. It’s essential for marketing purposes and for getting students talking about your website. We’ll post updates on Facebook that we won’t publish on the website.

For example, there was a rumor going around one day that the administration was going to ban yoga pants–and this upset the students tremendously. Everyone was talking about it, so we posed a question on our Facebook page: What do you think of the possible yoga-pants ban? More than 30 comments were made on that post. A reporter looked into it the next day, and it ended up being just a rumor. But it got students talking and looking to our site for my information–and that week was one of our highest pageview weeks to date.

We also have a Twitter and a tumblr page, but they are much less successful for us. Any advice?

5. Video Announcements

I’m lucky enough to not have to do this job completely alone. Another teacher instructs the broadcasting side of things. At our school, video announcements are shown twice a week in homeroom.

When we decided to go online, the newspaper class partnered with the broadcasting classes (our school ran three sections this year; it’s very popular), to create the NWN website. The video announcements run through our site, giving us about 125 automatic pageviews each time. Plus, the anchors always tease material on the website, to attract more traffic.

6-10…Well, you’ll have to wait until next week. Stay tuned. But, in the meantime, what are your most successful techniques to get pageviews?

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