Radio Station Website Best Practices

There’s no doubt that our world is more connected than ever. This means that your station’s online brand is just as important as it is on-air.  Your website and social media channels provide your listeners with destinations to further connect and interact with your station and content.

Just like on-air, working in the online space comes with it’s own set of pitfalls.  Mistakes can come with fines like using copyrighted material.  Mistakes can also result in decreased visitors.

Here are some of our best practices for maintaining your listeners coming back to your radio station website for more.

Give Your Station Website Respect

One client once told me, “I treat my website like a morning show, not the overnight shift.” Another client told me that he treats his website like a separate radio station. Both of these analogies are perfect. You won’t begin to increase your online revenue until you treat your station website like it’s an equal part of your company.  If your website immediately shows content dated from a year or two ago, your visitors may quickly leave.  This is why a fresh, content-driven website is so important.  A brochure-type website with a link to your stream simply won’t cut it if your goal is to bring back visitors and generate revenue.

Provide Local Content

We firmly believe that being the local authority will eventually save local radio.  Every community in the world has something to talk about.  Reach out to your on-air audience to let you know what’s important to them.  Write those stories and post them online.  These stories don’t have to be long.  A general rule of thumb is to create content that is at least 300 words long. This signals to the search engines that there’s enough here that readers will find it compelling.  However, if you simply don’t have 300 words, anything is better than nothing.

Remember that articles that relate to your community will most likely be shared on social media driving more traffic to your website.  The more content you can produce the better.  At least three news posts each day can generate significant traffic from search engines.  And don’t ignore headlines.  These can be very powerful and can mean the difference between a visitor reading the rest of the content and leaving your site.

Use Social to the Drive Website Traffic

You’ve most likely heard the phrase, “for more on this visit our website” from another radio or television station.  It’s a great promotion technique to drive website viewers, thereby increasing their search engine score and increasing visitor numbers to show potential banner ad clients.  So, why would anyone want to put an entire news story on Facebook?  In what way would that help the radio station?  Likes?  Shares?  How do those benefit the station?  The short answer is they don’t.  The best use of social media is to present a solid call to action back to the website where the “meat” of the your message needs to be.

Do Not Use Copyrighted Images

With all of the trade news about this, it should be a “no-brainer” by now.  Unfortunately, uneducated people are still trying their luck and photographers are getting paid well for it.  We have learned that any small/local town story can go viral.  When this happens, copyright permissions on any image that may have been used needs to be in hand.  Don’t end up with an expensive lawsuit.  Yes, it can happen to you.

Optimize Images for Fast Downloading

Each article that you post to your station site should have an accompanying image.  Keep in mind that images with big file sizes can slow your site down to a crawl even if they appear small visually.  Load times are especially important for your mobile audience.  Ensure that you use a photo editor to downsize and optimize the image format so that each loads fast as possible.

Photoshop is the most popular tool for this.  If you don’t have Photoshop, try the free online Pixlr Editor.  When uploading images to your website, be sure to use keywords in your image title and alt tags so that they can be found in search results leading to your article.

Encourage On-Air Personality Blogs

It’s a great idea for your on-air staff to post images and news before, during and after their show.  A blog is a great way for the personality to connect with their audience 24/7.  The deeper that connection becomes, the more likely they will be to listen more often.  It’s not far fetched to say that a blog done well could result in higher ratings and engagement.  Also, blogs simply add more shareable content to your site.  This will make your website more attractive to search engines.

Go Easy on the Ads

As an extension of your radio station, your website should bring in revenue.  More importantly though, it should deliver content to keep your viewers coming back.  Sure, ads can contain local content. But you wouldn’t run a short stop-set after every song on the radio, would you?  The same should be true for your website.  Fewer ads translate to increased visitors.  Besides, fewer ads can result in higher rates for premium placements.

Don’t Have Your Stream Start Automatically

This is a great way to decrease visitors to your site, especially during the daytime hours.  Rest assured that a person will not visit your site again once your stream is blasted across their quiet office when they should have been pulling financial statements.  Give viewers the option of listening.  Don’t force it.  And ensure that your stream opens in a window that can be minimized while they surf around the website.  If the stream is embedded within the page, it will start/stop on each link clicked.

Minimize Off-Site Links

You should keep your audience engaged with your brand, so don’t provide ample opportunity to send them somewhere else.  This is the primary reason we discourage RSS news feeds on our client sites.  When used effectively, external links can increase your search engine optimization.  They should not be considered “content” though.  Once a visitor clicks over to where you are sending them, they will not likely return.  Instead, they will bookmark the source and visit that location first, bypassing your site altogether.

Keep SEO In Mind

Search Engine Optimization is very important. Search engines scour each website daily looking for what visitors find relevant and boost that content.  The more relevant any content is, the higher it’s search engine rank becomes so that other people looking for that subject will more easily find it.  So, it’s important to use specific noun keywords throughout your articles, headlines and image tags.  If you are using a WordPress site, use an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO.  It will give you insight to what can be done within your articles so that they perform better in search.

Study your Competition

Take listening to your competition a bit further and see what kind of an online presence they have. Are they not filling a need in your community? Beat them to it or do it better.

There are lots of smaller items that didn’t make this article.  In fact, each of the points above could warrant their own “best practices” list.  Your main takeaways to generate revenue are to give ample attention to your station website, post relevant content often and mind copyright rules.

Our goal is to help your radio station have an engaging online experience and generate significant revenue.  This can be done with minimal effort and staff.  Let us guide the way.

Jim Sherwood serves as the chief creative, brand strategist, lead developer, meticulous project manager, and station collaborator for all Skyrocket Radio sites and projects. Jim is a 30+ year radio veteran with a resume spanning several small, medium, and large markets including roles as Digital Content Manager, Program Director, Production Manager, and Morning Show Host.