Politico’s Michael Calderon recently discussed the success of the Huffington Post, noting the Center for America Progress’ Eric Alterman referencing the site as a ""˜community newspaper’ for the liberal community." The site has gained considerable popularity since its launch four years ago, so we looked at how the Huffington Post compared to other popular left-leaning blogs and liberal websites as a whole using the new behavior segment features available with Compete’s Enterprise capabilities.
Traffic to some of the top performing liberal blogs — such as DailyKos, Talking Points Memo, Crooks and Liars, and AmericanBlog.com, in addition to the Huffington Post — increased leading up to the November 2008 election, as did traffic to other sites and blogs monitored within the liberal behavior segment. In the graph below, the left axis aligns with UVs for the liberal behavior segment, with the right axis aligning with UVs to the individual websites. As one can see, since the election, traffic to huffingtonpost.com has continued to increase, by nearly 1.4 million visitors, where traffic to other sites has tapered off.
It would appear that visitors to the Huffington Post are also engaging more with the site than those visitors to other blogs. For example, this past month the pages per visits ratio for the Huffington Post was on par with the next most trafficked blog, DailyKos, but the Huffington Post saw nearly six times as many pages views.
Site design and architecture likely factor into this widening gap, as sites like DailyKos and Crooks and Liars post their content in-full on the landing page, where the Huffington Post requires a few more clicks to read complete articles. For this reason, pageviews can sometimes be a gray area as far as measuring engagement, and other metrics — such as average stay — should be taken into account when looking at engagement. While unique visitors to DailyKos since the election average about one-tenth those to the Huffington Post, they average stay for that same period was 3 minutes more than visitors to the Huffington Post.
Since November, visitors to sites in the liberal segment have an average stay of 4.75 minutes. The average stay on huffingtonpost.com has decreased by between 30 seconds to 1 minute nearly every month since October — from a height of almost 8 minutes to the current average of about 3 minutes. While its popularity has made the Huffington Post a center point for the online community that Alterman has suggested, it does not necessarily mean that all of its visitors are engaging heavily with its content.