Analyze why Readers Come to your Blog….. and then Build on It
The first thing that I’d highly recommend medium sized bloggers do when I speak with them is to set aside some time to analyze the current performance of their blog and particularly to focus upon the successes and strengths that the blog has.
While there’s a lot to be said for identifying a blogs weaknesses in order to improve I think many bloggers spend so much time working on improving the negatives (patching holes and fixing problems) that they fail to build upon their successes.
Here’s a ‘secret’ of success that I’ve observed in quite a few successful bloggers…
They don’t do everything well, but what they do do well they keep doing it over and over again.
3 Examples of Blogs that Build Upon their Successes
Many successful blogs illustrate this principle. Let’s take a quick look at three:
- I Can Has Cheezburger – these guys are geniuses, I don’t know when they discovered that putting captions on pictures of cats would draw hundreds of thousands of readers to a blog – but when they did they focused upon that. Their blog design might not be the sexiest and they rarely write a post with more than a handful of words – but they worked out what their readers wanted and kept giving it to them. In fact they’ve taken the LOLcat formula and have rolled it out for Dogs, Celebrities, News and Politics etc.
- Post Secret - in some ways this is a similar story to I can has Cheezburger – Frank discovered that the idea of posting people’s ‘secrets’ on postcards captured people’s imagination. Again – I’m not sure where the idea came from but Frank latched onto it and has continued to keep his blog focused upon what works. In fact he’s expanded the idea into books and traveling exhibitions – all focusing upon the same thing – postcard secrets.
- Smashing Magazine – this blog has seen incredible growth in the last year or two and a lot of it is by building upon what works. If you analyze their posts you see certain types of posts that are repeated again and again. Check out their post 35 examples of animals photography for example – a post filled with great images on a theme. They do these weekly and they always generate lots of interest on social media sites. In fact this ‘list’ type post isn’t just photographic – they do lists of tips, resources etc. They’ve worked out what types of posts work with their readers and they continue to apply it again and again.
I could go on with most successful blogs. They identify something that works and repeat it over and over again. This doesn’t mean that they simply repeat the same content – the key to their success is to find new ways to apply the same formulae.
So what has worked on your blog? How can you do it again and even improve upon it?
Let’s Get to Work and Do Some Analysis
Here are some questions to ponder to help you to identify these points of energy on your blog that could be worth expanding upon:
Questions about Content
- What posts have had the most traffic to them?
- What posts have had the most comments?
- What posts got the most links from other blogs?
- What posts did better than others on social media sites?
When you’ve compiled a list of these posts that did better than others – do some analysis of WHY they did well.
- Was it the topic?
- Was it the style of post?
- Was it the title that you used?
- Was it the use of an image?
- Was it the posts length?
- Was it the use of humor?
There could be any number of factors that contributed to a post’s success – but there’s usually one or two that stand out. Do this analysis on a number of successful posts and you might just discover that the same things come into play in each case. Identify what these factors are and you’re in a great position to develop more of this type of content.
Questions about Traffic
Another type of analysis to do is asking questions around the ‘source’ of current traffic to your blog.
- What are the top sources of traffic to your blog?
- What other blogs or sites are linking to your content?
- What social media sites seem to be liking your content?
- What search engines send you traffic?
- What keywords are people arriving on your site as a result of searching for
Looking at the source of traffic coming to your blog is a powerful technique to help you grow your blog further.
I’ve found that when you see a significant source of traffic to a blog that there are almost always ways to build that traffic further. For example:
- When you notice a lot of traffic coming to certain posts from Google it can be helpful to optimize those pages for the keywords people are searching for to increase the traffic (looking at keyword density, linking to the page from other parts of your blog with good anchor text, tweaking titles etc).
- When you notice another blog linking up to yours there’s an opportunity to build a relationship with that blog. Get to know the blogger, thank them for the link, submit other posts that they might find useful, link up to them etc
- When you notice a social media site has been sending traffic it is a signal for you to get involved in that site. You might want to do some analysis on the type of content that does well on that site, you could educate your current readers on how to use the site, it might be worth adding a ‘voting’ button from that site to encourage readers to vote for you etc.
- When you get a lot of traffic for certain keywords from search engines it can be a hint to write more content on that topic. Pay particular attention to ‘questions’ that people are typing into search engines as these can be ready made post titles and topics to write about.
Identify Your Blogs Successes and Strengths
In this post I’ve only unpacked two types of strengths and successes that a blog might build upon (ie traffic sources and types of posts) – but there are of course a lot more. The same principles apply – once you identify something that you’re good at or something that people are responding to on your blog – keep doing it. It doesn’t mean that you can’t explore other things or improve upon weaknesses – but spend as much time building upon your success as you do in fixing weaknesses and I think you’re probably onto a good thing.
Tomorrow we’ll continue this series of posts on taking your blog to the next level by looking at converting first time readers into loyal ones.