Friday, 20 February 2009

Labourlist: on course to be a top political website

Labourlist has been so successful in its first five weeks that it is on course to be one of the top political sites in the blogosphere. How have they done it?

It has certainly been controversial and site editor Derek Draper's conduct occasionally aggressive and even offensive. But whether you like it or not, it's working.

Building links

Last week I noticed that it had attracted a significant number of links into the site. This was particularly surprising as some of the biggest right wing bloggers have refused to link to labourlist.It isn't yet competing with the biggest sites but is growing at a significant rate and if it continues, won't be far behind its main rivals before long.

Generating traffic

I then noticed how much traffic it generated to some blogs that Newscounter helps. It's not a huge amount of traffic in absolute terms, but far more than I expected for a site of that age and which had attracted that volume of criticism.

There is also some interesting traffic data from Alexa which suggests that its traffic is already in the same ballpark as Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes. At Newscounter we no longer put any faith in Alexa stats because the data samples aren't properly weighted to reflect reality (at least in the UK). However, as the Manchester Evening News blog points out, Labourlist is already out-performing Conservativehome.

It's still early days for Labourlist and it's difficult to compare with other months and other websites because it's only been live for a few weeks. However, people who have seen the stats (and our subsequent analysis) has suggested that in the first five weeks it's already on a similar scale to where the right wing sites were after several years. I predict that if it continues on its likely growth trajectory, it will be one of the biggest political sites in the UK blogosphere.

Using social networking

Although he's still finding his way around Twitter, Labourlist editor @derekdraper has been named as the third most popular political twitterer.

Labourlist key achievements

There are a number of key achievements on Labourlist in its first few weeks:
1. It has set the agenda on bigger blogs. A crude search suggests that Iain Dale's blog has mentioned Draper up to 1900 times whilst Guido Fawkes has referred to Draper on 9000 occasions.

2. It has ignited a chain of conversations on multiple websites - one key criteria for a successful blog - evidence by the rapid growth of sites linking to

Challenges for Labourlist

There are a number of further challenges facing Labourlist, particularly if it is to fulfil Draper's ambitions for a site that speaks to the population rather than the Westminster village.

1. Can it provide unique content sufficiently frequently to keep users and deepen their relationship with the site?

2. Can it provide the mix of content necessary to be controversial enough to get online attention but informative enough to keep users returning?

3. Can its posters provide more provocative and thoughtful articles which increase the number of comments - and demonstrate their authenticity by re-engaging with those comments?

4. Can it be sufficiently generous with its success so that it increases the infrastructure around centre left bloggers, which in turn will lead to the long term success of Labourlist?

I've deliberately left off any measure of electoral impact from Labourlist: even Iain Dale hasn't achieved demonstrated a clear relationship between a good blog and electoral success. When he stood for parliament, the Conservatives actually lost votes on the previous election, bucking the national trend.

As Labour used to say: a lot done, a lot more to do.


Guido Fawkes said...

DraperList has settled down to two to three thousand hits a day, as opposed to thirty thousand plus hits for me.

Get real.

jay mason said...

labour list has merely piggybacked onto some of the more popular rightwing/libertarian blogs. Draper has chosen as followers all Iain Dales followers and instantly grown his twitter list (twatter would be more appropriate).

It seems to me who visits it mot days to be a home for either Zanu Lab weirdos or right wing nutters who wish to taunt them.

Labour Home and Bob Piper both present a better view of the left of centre blogosphere both have grown organically and sometimes even make sense rather than just listening to Mandelson et als regurgitated blatherings

Praguetory said...

Considering the assembled cast, the risks of failure are pretty horrific for Labour. With Derek at the helm the likelihood of failure approaches 100%.

And your comment that Guido has mentioned him 9000 times does not make sense. His commenters may have thrown their equivalent of online tomatoes at him that many times, but this is only a positive if you subscribe to the all PR is good PR canard.

dizzy said...

What I want to know is why Matt Cain felt the need to spam a load of blogs that mentioned Labourlist with a cut and paste comment linking here.

Matthew Cain said...

@dizzy thinks - really sorry the comment came across as spam. I was eager to get out this alternative perspective and raise the profile of the article and (of course) my blog. The comment was too similar between many sites and I apologise for my lazy cut and paste efforts late on Monday night.

I will do better next time.

Matthew Cain said...

@guido fawkes - I've no doubt that you and Iain Dale are Britain's leading blogger - but Labourlist has had an impressive start. Whether it will continue, remains to be seen and (I'd suggest modestly) depends partly on their ability to meet the challenges set out in the post.

Anonymous said...

The excitement will die down soon enough. Most visitors are there just to point and laugh at Dolly, anyway.

How many more go to labourist ( instead, by the way? doesn't have the command and control comment moderation so favoured by Dolly's web police.

Labourlist is getting attention much the same as you would if you went swimming and dumped a turd in the pool. You'd have many people shouting your name, but no one would want to be anywhere near you.

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