Tips for promoting your website in the print edition

Oct 30, 2020

Matt Larson presents Rethinking Paywalls (for free print newspapers) with NNA member Cecile Wehrman, publisher of The Journal in Crosby, North Dakota. Larson also presented Donation Strategies During Shutdown; Reverse Publishing from Website to InDesign and How to Produce High Yield Content with Video Interviews at the annual convention.

President & CEO |

One question we’re often asked by customers and prospective customers is, “How can we get more traffic to our site?”

That is a pretty open-ended question, and of course, there are an infinite number of ways to get more traffic to your website. However, one effective strategy is to market to your existing audience — print readers — by making frequent mention of the website in your print edition. You’d be surprised how many newspapers don’t even publish their website URL anywhere in the paper edition. Undoubtedly some longtime, old-fashioned readers might not even know that a website exists!

With the publishing world trending towards a digitally dominated landscape, you definitely want to make sure that your existing print readers are able to easily find your website. There might just come a day when distributing a print edition is no longer viable, and you won’t want your readers going elsewhere for their news.

Let’s start with the obvious, aforementioned tip:


If you, like many newspapers around the globe, are refocusing your efforts on your digital product, then it probably makes sense to promote your website heavily in the print edition. Including your website’s URL somewhere in the masthead (or elsewhere on your front page) is a good first step to helping readers find the website. This helps illustrate to readers that the newspaper itself is only a single piece of your product, and that more is available on the website.

A lot of newspapers will publish their website’s URL on every page in the print edition by adding it to the top or bottom margins next to the page numbers. When the reader sees this URL repeatedly printed throughout the edition, they’ll never have to so much as “Google” search for your website — they’ll already have the website address memorized!


Photographs add an extra dimension to the news, giving readers a glimpse of a person or place and allowing them to easily connect with the subject matter in the story. Often times, especially with large community events, there just isn’t enough room in the print edition to show off all of the amazing photographs that were captured. This is another great opportunity to promote your website by inviting readers to view the rest of your photos online.

Whether you’re simply adding more photos to the online version of an article or creating a dedicated “Photo Galleries” section of your website, you could find success by teasing these galleries in print with a note or link to view the full gallery online.


Using the same principle as the above, you could include a slimmed-down version of your content in the print edition and invite readers to visit the website for a more in-depth version of the story.

While it probably doesn’t make sense to apply this tactic to general news articles, it can be especially useful for reader-interest and feature-style reporting, where a single feature can go on for several pages, eating up valuable space and increasing the cost of producing the print edition. Depending how many ads you’re able to sell, it might be more financially viable to produce fewer pages in print by moving the majority of the story online.

Of course, you can also include additional media and assets online, much like the photo galleries we mentioned above. While the print edition is largely limited to just text and a few photos, you could invite readers to “Download a full PDF” of a certain document or “View a full video” of an incident on your website.

You could even invite them to “Listen to this story online” using our Audio Articles feature!


Another way to draw readers to your website is to utilize more interactive content online and promote it in your print edition.

Our-Hometown’s WordPress Publishing Platform includes tools for things like Polls and Contests that you can use to appeal to readers.

Ask readers to go to your website and share their opinion by voting on a poll you’ve set up for the election season. Or create a trivia contest where readers can submit their answer to a weekly trivia question online, along with their contact info, for a chance to win a prize.

If you have Comments enabled online, invite your readers to “Join the Discussion Online at []” at the end of hot-topic news articles in print.

Comments can be an especially effective way to get users coming back to your website, as they are constantly returning to respond to other readers who have joined the discussion.


If you have any unfilled ad space in your print edition, create some filler ads that drive users to the website. It’s easy to highlight the benefits of an online, 24/7 news source over a once-a-day or once-a-week newspaper. Try a simple ad campaign prompting users to “Keep up with the latest news online at []!”

We see many newspapers take this approach to advertise their Facebook page or their Twitter profile, but why not apply it to your own website?

You should also promote any services that your website offers because some “print only” readers might not even know some of these options are available.

• If you accept Classified orders through your website, add a note to your Classifieds section prompting readers to visit the website to submit online instead. You could even offer a small discount for submitting online.

• If you accept announcement orders (such as birthdays, anniversaries, obituaries, etc.) online, add a note to these sections prompting readers to submit through the website instead.

• If you’re housing a Business Directory, be sure to mention the benefits somewhere in your paper.

All three of the above examples could be advertised with filler ads in your own newspaper.

Thanks for taking the time to read these basic tips for promoting your website in the print edition. We’d love to do a follow-up post in the future with some publisher-shared tips, so if you have any advice or suggestions to share, send us an email at!

Matt Larson is the president and CEO of Email him at