Question: why must news sites like Reuters split their stories over multiple pages? Is it because they’re desperate, misguided, hate readers, and are aiming to further commoditise their ad revenues?
Publishers need to be called out for pulling this dirty trick on unwitting visitors. It is aimed at doing one thing: boosting page impressions. After all, why settle for just one page impression when you can have many?
Well, it needs saying: publishers that give a shit about readers and advertisers simply do not do this. The way I see it, only those publishers that want to artificially inflate page impressions and loathe their readers adopt pagination.
It's a swinish technique...
More often than not there is no good reason for splitting up articles. It isn’t as if the average page is so heavy, or so long, that it merits breaking the article up over several pages (or more, in some cases). And it’s not about “measuring engagement” as some pagination apologists claim. It is simply about boosting page impressions.
It shows the highest contempt for visitors, and proves yet again that the way advertising is purchased and measured online needs to change. There is more to life than ‘page impressions’, or at least there should be. If only publishers would wake up to the fact that quality beats quantity.
There are SEO considerations too. Pagination isn’t ideal for SEO, though I’d still lobby against it even if it did wonders to your rankings. There's a spirited discussion (and some disagreement) about the effects of pagination on search results here.
Unfortunately this trend seems to be escalating. It’s another example of how far the big publishers have strayed from the path of righteousness / common sense / strategic best practice.
Take Reuters as an example. I read an article on Reuters yesterday that was split over three pages. The first break came not long after the 200-word mark. 200 words! What is this? Are we living in some kind of weird ADD society? Are people scared of scrolling down the page? Are we crazy about clicking? Splitting up articles into 200 word chunks is nothing short of an outrage.
But that's nothing on the very worst case I’ve seen, which was published by those cunning foxes over at Forbes, a website that I now steadfastly refuse to visit on the basis of it repeatedly kicking me / readers in the nuts. Forbes has a history of splitting articles into many pages, but worse still, it inserts even more pages into this multi-click experience by allowing a number of full-page ads to appear. Interstitials they’re called, and they normally have the side effect of making the visitor leave the website. It’s a real bastard of a scam.
If you hate pagination as much as I do then here are three ideas to help you avoid clicking through multiple pages:
- Click the ‘print view’ link, if there is one. That should neatly aggregate the whole article on one page. See, it really wasn’t so hard to do that was it?
- Install a Firefox repagination add-on such as this one, or this one.
- Make a mental note and refuse to visit that website in future.
Ok, so we know about Reuters and Forbes. Here are a few other guilty parties…
- The Register (I can't believe Andrew Orlowski lets them get away with this)
- The Washington Post
- The International Herald Tribune
- Trinity Mirror’s Chronicle Live
There are plenty of others. Please name and shame below.
Do you support pagination? Are there any valid reasons for going down this route, other than to artificially inflate page impressions?
[Image by sylvar via Flickr, various rights reserved]