On 18 September 2009, beloved London evening freesheet thelondonpaper folded. In its wake, London Lite remains.
While the closure is part of a larger effort by owners News International to trim the fat from their portfolio and erect paywalls around profitable titles, it also speaks to the future of freesheets on the web.
Back in April, thelondonpaper re-launched their web site. What was interesting about that was that London Lite had effectively no web site. It still doesn’t — just a ‘e-edition’. Its content is “incorporated” with morning freesheet Metro.co.uk. Looking back, one has to wonder what would have happened if the money hadn’t been sank into the web presence. Would thelondonpaper still be around?
In a comment on a Guardian article about the closure, a now-former londonpaper web developer had the following to say about the redesign: Continue reading
thelondonpaper is closing – with a pre-tax loss of £12.9m last financial year on £14.1m turnover. Maybe if they’d sorted out their SEO strategy, they’d have got more website visitors and sold more adverts? (See this story in video form).
thelondonpaper's poor appearance in google's results
They have no meta descriptions on their pages. Although the meta description doesn’t influence your position in google‘s search results, it does affect users’ propensity to click on each result.
With no meta description, google has to guess what to show in its results – and the picture reveals what it shows for thelondonpaper’s home page.
Would this tempt YOU to click through?
UPDATE: from someone who worked with the website team at thelondonpaper: “The website relaunch included a number of changes to improve the search engine optimisation of the site. These had a pretty substantial positive impact. The issue you raise was a known one and would have been fixed in time. In general though, recent website performance had been good.”