At the beginning of 2015, theweek.com editor in chief Ben Frumin (pictured) welcomed readers to a redesigned website. A navigation scheme that was “meant to feel like a clear signal in the noise.”
If February stats are any indication, that directive has been loudly and enthusiastically embraced. Google Analytics figures for the month are a new-site best. Here’s the memo to staff from Frumin:
Congratulations on a tremendous month! We had 15 million visits, nearly 11 million unique visitors and 36 million page views in February–easily our best traffic month since overhauling the website.
There’s loads to love in the February numbers. Engagement was through the roof–2.4 pages/session, which is an extraordinary number for a site that disavows greedy-and-rude, page view-maximizing slideshows. Indeed, there are many websites perceived to have deeply engaged readerships who have barely half the pages/visit we do.
Our readers kept coming back too–more than 6 million of our February visits were from returning readers. Half a million of those visits were from readers making their 201st (or more) visit to the site in February. We clearly have a highly dedicated group of superfans who rely on us day in and day out.
Our traffic mix in February was the healthiest it’s ever been. No single traffic source accounted for more than 29% of our traffic in February–and that was direct traffic, the best, cleanest, and most reliable form of traffic there is. Next up was Facebook–26% of our traffic–followed by search (17%) and Yahoo (16%). Every site is, almost by definition, overly vulnerable to its largest source(s) of traffic. But our February mix of traffic sources feels very healthy–much more like a mutual fund than a hot stock. And it’s particularly great that direct traffic–with our booming newsletter business at its core–is our biggest single source of traffic. In a flighty age where many readers stumble on content and have no idea what site they’re even on, our readers specifically and directly seek us out. The work we produce plays a real and valuable role in their lives.
And that’s the thing: The best thing about our performance in February isn’t the numbers. It’s the importance and quality of the work we’re producing, the valuable reader service we’re providing, and the sober, clear-eyed voice of sanity and reason we’re offering in a wild-eyed time.
As we’ve talked about so many times in our meetings, a lot of people (readers and competitors alike) are losing their minds in the age of Trump. But we’ve been so great. This is a trying and confusing time in so many ways–for the country, for our industry — but I’m really proud of how steadily, intelligently, and fairly we’ve handled it. I hope you are too.
One cautionary asterisk to append to all of this: Like all things on the internet, there’s no guarantee that this traffic bonanza will continue. February was a gangbusters month, but at 12:01 a.m. on March 1, the traffic counter reset to zero. We have to keep working for it. And even then, I would be surprised (though pleasantly so!) if these sky-kissing February numbers became the new normal. Reader engagement with the news is bound to ebb a bit at some point. And in February, “everything worked” in a way that would be hard to replicate month after month after month.
That said: The site has never been smarter or more vital. The work we’re producing has never been more thought-provoking and important. And we’re reaching a bigger audience, and on a deeper level, than we ever have before.
Keep up the great work!
Mobile accounted for 55% of The Week’s traffic last month, while geographically speaking, 87% of the total came from the U.S. Below are the Top 5 most read articles for the month.
- “America’s Spies Anonymously Took Down Michael Flynn. That Is Deeply Worrying.“
- “Beware Trump’s Reichstag Fire“
- “Fox News’ Chris Wallace to Reince Priebus: ‘You Don’t Get to Tell Us What to Do’“
- “Sean Spicer Just Got Live Fact-Checked by CNN’s Communications Team“
- “Jeb Bush Trolls President Trump Over Border Wall With Single Tweet“