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What do we learn from the Evening Standard's 20% drop in web traffic in February?

By Mike Pollitt
21 March 2013, 14:52

Link

The headline on this story at journalism.co.uk

“Evening Standard web traffic fell almost 20% in February”

sounds bad. A 20% drop in traffic from January to February – ouch.

But the underlying story isn’t quite so ouch. February is a short month, and the January traffic was 43% up on December.

So one lesson is that variations between monthly web figures aren’t good indicators of a trend.

The bigger lesson is a troubling one: web traffic is extremely volatile. A viral hit here, some SEO there, these can make the difference between a good month online and a bad one. It’s troubling because

1. how the hell do you run a business with such volatility around one of your income streams?
2. while a focus on ever-increasing web traffic and a focus on sustained, well-resourced journalism aren’t mutually exclusive, you wouldn’t set those focusses up on blind date because there’s a very good chance they won’t get on.

Since the Standard is London’s most influential media outlet, the priorities which it gives its staff are important. The website has already flirted with Daily Mail Online-inspired sexy clickbait stories. It’s worth watching which direction it chooses to take from here.

Read full details on the ABC’s monthly circulation report

Mike Pollitt
Mike Pollitt is the editor of The Metropolis.

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