White House website traffic drops - conservative news site celebrates
There's always a danger of just slapping together a quick cause-and-effect link to make your point.Skip to next paragraph
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Take the conservative Cybercast News Network, for example. Today they crow that traffic to the White House website has "plummeted," a drop that they say neatly corresponds to Obama's falling approval ratings.
"According to the web-traffic tracking site Alexa.com, whitehouse.gov was almost the 500th most popular Web site in the world in February. Since then, it has fallen to the 3,732-ranked Web site in the world. Traffic to the site has fallen 51.6 percent in the last three months," writes CNS reporter Matt Cover.
"The decline in White House’s web traffic has coincided with a decline in the president’s approval ratings and the approval ratings for his policies," he adds, citing a Zogby poll showing that President Obama's approval rating has dropped from 51 percent in mid-June to 48 percent now.
Hold on. As the former E-communications director of the White House during President George W. Bush's first term, I became familiar with traffic patterns. Some things were easy to explain. For example (and this will surprise few), the more unique and interesting content you put on the site, the more traffic you'll get.
Also, not surprisingly, bad news – which usually means a dip in approval ratings – means an increase in traffic.
In order for the website to remain relevant during the long periods of time where President Bush had high approval ratings, unique content and innovative applications had to be churned out.
Online interactive chats worked very well. By allowing people to interact with members of the White House and the Bush administration in "Ask the White House" chats, the Bush White House saw traffic spike. And placing unique video content on the site – like tours of the White House and Air Force One or interviews with residential staff who claimed to have seen Lincoln's ghost – also helped traffic increase.
We've seen the Obama administration do some cool things too. Live video town halls, for instance, while over-staged, are an excellent way to interact with the public. As time goes by, team Obama could ditch the studio audience altogether and just have the president talk to citizens from a webcam in the Oval Office.
So what's behind the traffic roller coaster? Many variables play into it. Let's look at a few.
1. Hope and change. Agree with the direction of the Obama administration or not, there was a lot of excitement with the changing of the guard. With all the interest, higher traffic was inevitable. But, like anything, the novelty wears off. These numbers are naturally going to fall.