In September, AltWeeklies.com had 251,211 unique visitors, representing a 33 percent increase over August’s number of 188,164. Traffic to the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ collaborative news site has increased exponentially since April, when the number of unique visitors was less than 10,000. Many readers were drawn to the news site’s Hurricane Katrina coverage, which includes a series titled “Submerged: An Evacuee’s Journal” by Michael Tisserand, who was editor of New Orleans’ Gambit Weekly before the disaster.
Just over half the site traffic comes from people who have bookmarked the site or who type in the URL to arrive at their destination. Forty-five percent of visits are referred by other sites. The great majority of the referring sites are AAN-member papers that run teasers of AltWeeklies.com headlines. The Boston Phoenix, which runs a teaser on its home page, triggered nearly 100,000 visits to AltWeeklies.com last month. Other top referring sites include Cincinnati CityBeat, Nashville Scene, The Providence Phoenix, Boise Weekly, Honolulu Weekly, The Athens News and Illinois Times. To meet the needs of papers that don’t have a vertical space suitable for a vertical teaser, AAN’s software developer, DesertNet, has created alternate teasers that are laid out horizontally in dimensions that mirror popular banner ad sizes. Not just AAN papers but anyone who has a news site covering topics related to the subject matter on AltWeeklies.com is welcome to use the free teasers. Because AltWeeklies.com was designed as a portal to the online content of its member papers, almost all of its traffic is immediately redirected back to their Web sites. So the benefits of AltWeeklies.com’s traffic increase should trickle down to all papers that post stories to the site as visitors find links to articles that interest them and click through to reach the source. AAN papers that have added AltWeeklies.com teasers to their sites have also noted a related increase in traffic. Headlines in the teasers change on a daily and sometimes hourly basis as new stories are posted to AltWeeklies.com. The fresh content gives readers a reason to come back to the alternative newsweekly’s site between issues. Questions about the teasers or the site should be directed to AAN Editorial Director Ruth Hammond.