CONTENT enrichment in the past six months has paid off for AsiaOne.
The Singapore Press Holding's free online portal has since been getting even more hits, and last month, it topped the latest Hitwise ranking for 'latest news and media' in Singapore.
Hitwise is a respected online measurement company which determines the most popular websites from its monitoring of over 800,000 sites worldwide.
AsiaOne's pole position came after it started to cast its net wider for more content and interactivity. Last month, AsiaOne drew in 8 million pageviews - a 22-month high.
For those who wanted more on-the-ground reporting that went beyond radio and TV, AsiaOne seemed to be the website of choice.
Some of the value-added stories found in AsiaOne:
The battle of Chinese exports Yao Ming and Yi Jian Lian in the American NBA professional basketball league; and a beauty pageant of transsexuals in Thailand.
Laboratory officer Phyllis Tan, 26, who goes online regularly to get her news, likes the portal's choice of news.
'AsiaOne focuses more on human interest stories from the region and it is more captivating. The website also has the latest major news stories, which means I can get the best of both worlds,' she said.
For such reports, AsiaOne looks beyond local publications. It also monitors, among others, Malaysia's The Star and New Straits Times, Thailand's The Nation and Indonesia's The Jakarta Post.
To create more space on its homepage, a 'flash rotator' was introduced to showcase, at any one time, five of its most impactful stories.
AsiaOne has also morphed into a truly interactive portal where every story is open to readers' comments.
The Straits Times online portal, ST.com, also broke new ground in October.
It attracted 7.6 million pageviews - its highest since it adopted a partly free, partly paid, subscription model in 2005.
Since May, breaking news from Singapore and around the world, previously available only to paid users, have been freely accessible.
Adding a discussion board to selected stories to allow users to add their comments proved to be a hit too.
'I like the discussion boards. It lets viewers not only have their say on a topic, but also to add background information that might be obscure, under-publicised or simply not available,' said freelance writer Edmund Mark, 26, a regular on ST.com.
Other free features in ST.com, like the online Forum page for readers' letters which do not make it to print, and 'vodcasts' (video-on-demand news reports), have also seen impressive growth.
Heartened by readers' responses, ST Editor Han Fook Kwang said: 'It shows the huge potential of The Straits Times and AsiaOne in connecting with Singaporeans on the Net.'