Newsrooms think about the content journey and the strategies needed to keep readers moving throughout their sites. Content elements should never lead to a dead-end but rather connect to other content on the site. The goal is strong recirculation, a measure that shows how much of an audience goes from one piece of content to another on the site. It also helps newsroom evaluate their strategies to optimize the way in which they move their audience through the site.
To understand how content links can aid audience recirculation, The Lenfest Institute for Journalism partnered with the Graham Media Group’s seven local broadcast newsrooms. Their research study, Using Links to Keep Readers on News Sites, evaluates the impact of four factors on driving clicks on a content link:
- The use of text-only links or a combination of text and images,
- The placement of the links on the page,
- The type of content included in the links, (e.g. Related Stories or Popular Stories), and
- The wording used to describe the links.
In total, an average of 1.42% of those who visited the news sites during the study clicked on a content link. While 1.42% is a low rate of engagement, it did outperform industry-norms. Outbrain, an online advertiser specializing in presenting sponsored website links, reports healthy click-through rates somewhere between 0.10 and 0.25%.
Key findings of The Lenfest Institute research include:
- Images with links generate 63% more clicks than those of text-only.
- Links at the end of a page generate 55% more clicks than links in the middle of a page. Further, links at the end of the page are even more successful on mobile.
- Related content links earn 14% more clicks compared to popular content links.
- However, popular content generates more clicks when the referral page is located on Facebook.
- Keeping messaging simple matters. Generic wording (e.g. Related Stories) earns slightly more clicks than more complex wording (e.g. What Else People Can Read on This Topic).
The study confirms industry findings that only a small percentage of users click on content links. However, the study also shows specific elements in design, layout and messaging can influence clicks in a positive manner. It’s important for newsrooms to explore these elements and other practices to test what best helps guide readers through an engaged content journey.