The Daily Mail can actually make you a better blogger

Four tips for bloggers taken from analysing what the Daily Mail does to achieve its huge online success and what a former employee told a search marketing conference in London

The Daily Mail is an online success story. Whatever you think about the publication or its views, you cannot deny it has achieved a great deal online. Every minute of the day there are 19,444 articles being read on the Daily Mail website. Each hour there are almost 5,000 comments being made by readers. Each month the website receives 190m unique visitors. It must be doing something right.

Front page of the Daily Mail

So what does the Daily Mail do that we can all learn from?

One of the key things to notice about the Daily Mail is the huge number of pictures on the front page. It is visually crammed. Today’s home page, for instance, had 492 pictures (yes I counted them all) making the home page massive in terms of the amount of data it is sending. Yet, what we hear from all the “experts” is to keep your home page small, so that it can be downloaded quickly. True, the Daily Mail uses coding techniques that keep its page as small as possible, but even without the pictures it is 723Kb. Clearly, being big is not an issue for its readers. What seems to matter is that it is full of pictures.

Images exploding from computer screen

The impact of the vast number of images was made clear in the recent Search Bootcamp by former Daily Mail web employee, Jackson Rawlings. He said: “Some Mail stories are 90 per cent images. That allows quick browsing over lunch, for instance.”

If you check out the lead story on the Daily Mail, you will find the story is told in pictures. There is a short amount of text, but there are 17 pictures with captions. You can get the whole story if you just scan those pictures and read the few words below them.

As Jackson Rawlings told the audience at Search Bootcamp, “The reason that so many people keep coming back to the Mail is because it is so easy to view and use. If you are using images already, then use more images. People don’t use enough multimedia.”

So, Tip Number One for bloggers – increase the number of images you use.

Back at the Search Bootcamp, Jackson Rawlings made another really important point. He said that the Daily Mail did not wait until a story was complete before publishing it online. The editorial policy is to get something up on the web as soon as possible and then add to the story as it grows and as new information and images come in to the newsroom. As a result, the story evolves online.

Bloggers often wait to publish until everything is complete or finished. Rarely do bloggers go back to old posts, change them and adapt them as new information comes in. Yet, the highly successful Daily Mail, treats its content as something that is always ready to be changed.

Tip Number Two for bloggers – your blog posts are never finished.

Another feature of the Daily Mail that is noticeable is that the headlines are very long.

Daily Mail Headline

Look at that headline…! It is 32 words long. All the advice on headline writing on the web is that it should be short and snappy. The most successful British newspaper online does the complete reverse of that advice. There is a lesson in that.

Tip Number Three for bloggers – tell the entire story in the headline.

Finally, there is something else the Daily Mail does. According to Jackson Rawlings the Mail constantly researches what the visitors are interested in. The editorial policy is centred around what people want. How much of your website or blog is based on assumption and how much is based on reader research?

Tip Number Four for bloggers – research your audience in-depth.

So, there you have it. Four tips to help your blog as a result of looking at the Daily Mail. Use more pictures,  write longer headings, research your audience and never assumed a post is finished.

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