National Newspaper Web Traffic for September

Four national newspaper websites achieved record traffic in September, with Times Online making the greatest gains and reclaiming second place in global unique user figures.

According to the latest ABCe-audited web traffic data, Guardian Unlimited continues to be Britain’s top site, with 16.7 million unique users – a 28.7 per cent year on year increase.

But Times Online grew 39 per cent year on year to 12.54 million unique users. A 22.43 per cent monthly spike saw The Times overtake both Mail Online and Sun Online to reclaim second place in the league table of global unique users.

It also marks the first time that Times Online has recorded higher traffic than before its February relaunch.

Times Online editor Anne Spackman credited improvements in the site’s search engine optimisation efforts for the recent growth.

‘It’s been a fantastic month, but it hasn’t completely fallen out of the sky,’she said. ‘There were very strong news stories in September, but the progress we’ve made on search magnified the impact of those stories.”

Times Online recruited Drew Broomhall from Yahoo! to the role of search editor just under a year ago. Together with a deputy, he runs a full-time internal search engine optimisation effort for the site which has additional external support.

Since the beginning of September, the search team has sat in a ‘traffic driving hub’with other Times Online editorial and technical staff.

‘The search team provide intelligence to both the newspaper and the website about what is happening in terms of traffic to our site, where people are coming from and what is driving them to the site,’Spackman said.

‘They also look at everything from the site structure to headlines and keywords to make sure that everything is suited to the search engine robots.”

Over the past year, Spackman has recruited a dozen journalists on to the site’s team, including at least four who combine editorial and technical skills.

‘The most successful web journalists are those who combine the essential curiosity that you need to be a really good journalist anywhere with really good tech skills,’she said.

‘People who have that combination of talent now are extremely valuable.”

The Times’s News International stablemate, The Sun Online, had 10.67 million unique users, up only slightly month on month, but a 54.81 per cent increase since September 2006. crossed the 10 million-user barrier for the first time in September. It did not publish an ABCe certificate this time last year, but has grown 67 per cent in 10 months to 10.65 million unique users.

Of the five sites that report ABCe-audited traffic data, Mail Online was the only site not to report record unique user numbers, but remained the fastest-growing site – its 11.69 million unique users representing a 81.28 per cent growth.

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