Salon cuts post count by a third, gets 40 percent increase in readers

Salon's Kerry Lauerman found that the given wisdom of publishing more content did not yield more traffic.

[We published] Short (a few hundred words) summaries or explainers about a major news event covered more in depth by somebody else. In its best form, we wrote short little decoders of a big story, and tried to link generously to the original source. At its worst, we monitored Twitter and Google for trending topics, and dispatched an intern to cobble together our own summary, posted it quickly, then prayed to the Google gods that the effort would win, if only briefly, their favor.

I'm not proud of that last approach, a mandate from above, which we were able to quietly scuttle after it was proven to have absolutely zero impact.

They're now publishing a third fewer stories, but have increased traffic by forty percent since cutting out "aggregation" and focusing on original stories.



  1. Makes total sense…my RSS feed has 100-150 items per day and I usually end up cutting out feeds that don’t offer bang for the proverbial buck…if Salon is just regurgitating stuff I get elsewhere they they might be the one that gets deleted…if they produce smaller original stuff that I am more likely to want, then I’ll stick around.

    1. Same here. I used to read a variety of tech blogs, and then I realized they were all just posting the same stories, linking to each other, so I cleared out a bunch of them and yet still get the same content.

    2. I wonder if Salon should do both?  Combine in-depth content with aggregate stuff in another section of the website and have separate RSS feeds for readers to choose from?  That way you still keep the aggregate readers.

  2. You mean that removing content “cobbled together” by interns and relying on experienced professional writers increases overall quality of a news source?

    It’s a good thing for our culture that so many bean counters understand why quality is paramount.

    edited to close sarcasm tag

  3. Funny, I literally just clicked over to Boing Boing from Salon, where I had spent a full twenty minutes engrossed in reading a lengthy piece of in-depth, exhaustively-researched, insightful journalism. And I was reading it, I was thinking, “This is great. I can hardly believe this is Salon. Why don’t they do more of this and less of the rolling feed of news-nuggets that amount to little more than retweets?”

    I’m glad to see that that’s the plan. Fewer stories as a trade-off for longer stories and better stories — I call that a bargain.

    Magazines — in print or online — are living, growing entities, and as they grow they often lose their way. It’s rare and wonderful to see a magazine finding its way back to what made it interesting in the first place.

  4. Well I see things that BB puts up mid afternoon show up on the evening news… (and I’m not talking about breaking news stuff either.)

  5. “dispatched an intern to cobble together our own summary”

    Hey, that’s like Gizmodo.  Oh wait, some of those are written by the editors?

    I tend to skip over feeds that post too much. I hope Salon’s new approach becomes a trend!

  6. Now, off to my blog to post about Rob Beschizza letting me know that Salon’s Kerry Lauerman found that the given wisdom of publishing more content did not yield more traffic.

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