Attracting readers to your site and getting them to regularly come back is no easy feat, especially in an environment that is constantly changing shape. Experimenting with new strategies, and adjusting existing ones when needed, is the best way to adapt to this evolving digital landscape. One of our major objectives at Disqus is to equip our publishers with all the tips, tools, and knowledge they need to accomplish that. This week, we decided to look at one of our favorite Disqus sites, Gothamist, as a source of strategy inspiration. ✨

Gothamist covers local New York news, arts, entertainment, and food. The Gothamist team publishes several pieces of new content daily, from must-try restaurants to covering the NY Film Festival. Their site, which boasts an active commenting community and loyal readership, employs various strategies to drive engagement, foster connection, and promote discovery. We’re unpacking four of their best practices to assess why they work and how they may benefit you too!

1. Internal Linking

Within many articles, Gothamist links to other related content on their site. For example, most of their news pieces contain links to other relevant stories published on-site, providing more information such as backstory and/or updates. Linking to additional articles in this way is a great way to leverage existing content and drive traffic back to that page. If you’ve covered a particular subject before, you can hyperlink to that piece so that your readers have an additional resource. Additionally, it will decrease the redundancy in your content. This saves you time and energy and also benefits your readers as it gives them the option to decide if they want to learn more on that topic or not. If they aren’t familiar with the subject matter or need a quick refresher, internal linking allows them to easily learn more and keeps them on your site as opposed to Googling the topic and choosing a different website.  

Internal linking also aids in site navigation, making it easier for readers to explore other articles and discover more of your content, which can boost SEO! 


2. Topic Tags

Gothamist covers a variety of categories (News, Arts & Entertainment, Food). Above each story title, there is a tag indicating one of the three categories, so it’s immediately evident what the main focus of the content is. This is especially useful for their “popular” section that highlights articles from all categories. In addition to the main category tags, each article includes a handful of other clickable hashtags at the bottom of the piece. These tags are more specific (#NYCPizza, #Traffic, #SummerEvents), and when clicked, they lead readers to other stories covering similar topics. As you can see from the example below, utilizing topic tags is a helpful strategy to promote discovery across your site. By redirecting readers to other articles they might be interested in, you provide further value to audience members, which cultivates loyalty. Furthermore, as with internal linking, tagging articles is a great opportunity to leverage existing content. 


3. Reader Input

Allowing readers to participate encourages engagement and inspires loyalty 🥰. What this looks like in practice is different for every publisher, but can include reader polls, reactions, or even contests and giveaways. Gothamist solicits input from readers by asking them to send in story ideas. Since they cover local New York stories, this is a great way to generate article topics and stay up-to-date with news and events. It also gives readers the chance to share what they’re interested in and is a great source of feedback for Gothamist to assess what people care about and then fill any content gaps. Their ‘Send A Story Idea’ call-to-action button opens the mail application immediately, making it quick and simple for readers to send the company an email. 


4. Personality

As we’ve covered in the past, making your brand feel more personal is a great way to establish trust with readers. Highlighting the individuals responsible for keeping your site up and running, (whether that’s just you or a team of writers, editors, etc.) reminds audiences that there is a face and name behind each site. Gothamist does an excellent job of humanizing their brand, as each article’s author is clearly labeled and the author’s name links to a page with additional content that writer has published. This allows readers to discover more articles on Gothamist’s site and showcases all of the author’s hard work, which also helps build credibility. 

Their staff page provides even more information about each individual, including a photo, their role, and a short biography. By including personal details about each staff member, Gothamist becomes more relatable and authentic, in turn making readers feel connected. There are also links to each individual’s email and Twitter, making them approachable and accessible to audience members. The staff page, especially the ‘Animals’ tribute, is full of personality, which fosters a sense of closeness, and links to the Instagram accounts of various team members’ pets, including Goose the black lab and Sadie the one-eyed “pirate” cat. It’s a great way to establish a connection with your audience! 

What are your favorite strategies content? Let us know in the comments below! 💬