Salon Readership Up 35% YOY; ‘Fastest-Growing Major News Site’

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Looks like the content strategies Salon.com has been putting in place over the last year are paying off. The site had 35% more unique visitors in March than the during same month last year. Uniques are up 22% in the first quarter of 2010. And the site’s referral traffic—from search engines, social media, and third-party sites—is up 125% year over year. Overall, Salon Media CEO Richard Gingras told WebNewser, the site is the fastest growing major news site in the country.

Gingras credits the rise in traffic to new strategies, including a new architecture that creates “topic pages” for related content, the increasing emphasis on breaking news, more pop culture coverage, and more prominent features for sharing links via social media.

More, after the jump.


Some more of Gingras thoughts:

Topic pages grab search engine traffic

Salon implemented a new architecture where just about every article gets lumped into a “topic page,” everything from news-of-the-day items like healthcare reform and unemployment to more general subjects like air travel and gender roles. Gingras said that pushes up Salon content in online searches. Do a Google search for “health care reform,” for example, and Salon’s health care topic page is likely to show in the first or second page of results.

Salon is no longer just about long-form journalism

Salon made its mark with longer thoughtful pieces. Now, however, it’s starting to emphasize shorter—and different—kinds of content as well. “It’s about new ways of presenting content,” Gingras told us. “The week before the health care reform vote, we did a slide show, a very thoughtful one, on ten things you need to know from the health care reform bill. That was a very big hit for us. It was serious subject, but it was a very good piece, and clearly a lot of people thought enough of it to refer it to their friends.”

Salon is jumping on breaking news faster

Historically, Salon has been a place to come for thoughtful analysis and perspective on the news of the day. Now it also wants to deliver the news as it happens.

“[It’s] a real-time world from a news perspective,” Gingras said. “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be there on national stories that matter to our audience from minute one…. We follow up quickly with analysis and perspective, but we’re there right from the get-go. I don’t want the Salon audience, when a news story breaks, to feel like they have to go to CNN to find out the latest facts. We can provide that to them as well.”

And that’s important because…

“The news coverage drives a lot of traffic and page views. It’s a great driver of visits and content consumption.”

More soft stuff means better advertising bucks, even for the hard stuff

Salon has also been boosting its lifestyle and pop culture coverage, including the launch last year of a new Food section. “That’s important,” Gingras said, “because it gives us important signals on the interests our audience. It allows us to figure out who in our audience is a food enthusiast. Then, with behavioral targeting, we can place ads in front of them even if they’re reading a news story.”