Throughout the course of the year I had been watching the university site’s traffic on gameday. I have mentioned how gameday does affect traffic – not only the amount but also the pages people are looking for. I therefore decided to use this trend to try to encourage visits to some of our other web properties. On bowl game day we therefore swapped out the “In the Spotlight” section on the front page of the university site with links to Aggie Traditions, 12th Man, and Reveille.
My theory was that these sites all receive more hits during game weekends without any additional advertisement, so adding them on the front page should drive even more traffic. The numbers, though, are inconclusive at best. Each of these sites did – as expected – experience an increase in traffic. The increase was not as much as I would have thought, though. More telling, not as much of the increase came from referrals than I had hoped.
The university site did experience an increase in traffic, but not as much as it did for some of the bigger games during the season. This would have meant that we didn’t get as many people seeing the links to have clicked on them. Organic search still dominated as the channel by which people were landing on these sites.
We also didn’t attract as many outside visitors to the university site as with other gameday peaks. On average we had 42% new sessions during the semester. The October 8 game against Tennessee, fueled by our also hosting ESPN’s GameDay, saw a peak of 78% new sessions. For the bowl game it was only 62%. This percentage drop, coupled with the lower overall number of visitors, would imply that there were fewer visitors who might have been looking for this type of information.
The game itself may have lent itself to these trends. Having been in the Big 12 for several years, most of the Kansas State fans are probably familiar with Texas A&M. The matchup probably didn’t have the national draw that some of our in-season games did, so we would have fewer people from areas of the country who aren’t as familiar with who we are.
So while I don’t think this was a failure, it still wasn’t the success that I was hoping for. It does indicate that we need to be aware of scheduling these content changes around events that can get more outside attention than we were able to draw this year.
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