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Frequent Short Posts – A Secret of A-List Bloggers Success

Tristan Louis at TNL.net does an interesting post today which analyses 5 top blogs (Boing Boing, InstaPundit, Daily Kos, Gizmodo and Engadget) and how frequent and long their posts are.

‘The data became clearer. On that particular day, the top five bloggers created an average of 30 entries, with each entry being under 150 words.’

It’s a very interesting post and one that backs up a lot of the theory that I’ve argued here over the past 6 months. Frequent short sharp posts work on a number of levels:

  • Highly Targeted Content – A post of 150 or so words is likely to be pretty targeted on one particular topic. Search Engines love this – they know what it is about and will rank it higher on this.
  • Search Engines like shorter posts. I personally think 150 might be 100 or so words short of what is ideal for SE’s but the research shows that shorter posts tend to be dealt with better than longer ones by Google.
  • Readers like bite sized content - Research shows that readers scan content and that they rarely read things word for word. They also have notoriously short attention spans online. 150 words is easily digestible.
  • High quantities of posts = more entry points to your blog - write one long 4500 word post each day and you create 1 new page on your blog. This is one possible new entry point on your site each day that will be indexed by Search Engines, appearing in RSS feeds etc. Create 30 posts and you can see you increase the chances of your blog being found exponentially. Multiply this 30 daily posts by 365 days in a year and you start the see the potential of such a strategy.

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Jeff Jarvis on About.com

Interesting interview in Business week with Jeff Jarvis this week which examines his move to About.com and how he sees his work there unfolding:

‘Jarvis explained that about 50% of his time will be spent as a consultant on content development at About.com, the service that the New York Times bought in February. But he’s also hoping to help mold About’s business strategy. He would like to see its 500 guides used as “a platform for distributed media,” where the guides develop relationships with blogs. For instance, a travel guide could work together with a host of travel blogs to cover the landscape.

The rest of the time will be spent writing a book, which he plans to publish as he writes it on his blog to get feedback, and consulting with Advance.net, where he used to work. Jarvis was mum on the new news startup he’s working with, other than to say they’re raising venture money now and plan to debut later this year.’

I’m fascinated with his ideas for About.com – especially the talk of relationships with bloggers which could be a real win win situation for all concerned. Bloggers are on the ground reporting on every niche topic that About.com has in its stable – it makes sense for their tour guides to be in fruitful relationships with these bloggers. I know that I already am on speaking terms with a couple of their guides but would love to take these relationships to a deeper next step.

I guess time will tell as to how this all works out – but Jeff is definitely a guy to take About.com to the next step.

Writing Effective Blog Post Titles

Vaspers the Grate has an interesting experiment going looking at the last 5 titles on a variety of his favorite blogs. Steven writes:

‘I’m of the opinion that the title of your post is the most important text of the post.

If the post title is not good, many potential readers and RSS subscribers may just skip it. The post title is also vital for search engine optimization, and for grabbing the attention of blog surfers.’

The list of blogs he examines is a good one in itself (there are some great blogs there (not just because ProBlogger.net appears either).

I agree with Steven that the title of your post is crucial in a successful blog on a number of fronts:

  • SEO – search engines head straight to your title to determine what it is about and how to rank it.
  • Search Engine referrals – your title is usually what is listed in Search engines and is an opportunity to hook people in.
  • RSS referrals – people scan their News Aggregators looking for the posts that captivate and intrigue
  • Loyal Readers – Even those that bookmark your site and log on regularly to look at what you’re writing scan your page. Titles are attention grabbers that can pause their scanning and make them actually read what you have to say.

I know a lot of bloggers try to get quirky, cryptic and creative with their titles – I personally have nothing against this – but over the past two years have decided that it’s probably not the best way of attracting readers considering the above four points.

Rather I tend to go for a descriptive post that tells the reader what the post is about. I also aim to put the keywords I think people will be searching for for such a post in the title and make it as sharp and to the point as possible.

Of course rules are made to be broken – and the intriguing cryptic title can work from time to time – however if you use them too much you might just find your readers get frustrated with you and stop dropping by to see what that latest post is all about.

Adsense Gets a Redesign

The team at Adsense have been busy (as one can tell by my last few posts) – in addition to the icon and combination ads Blog Herald has notice a newly designed ‘Ad Settings’ page. In actual fact a little more digging reveals that they’ve redesigned most of their pages including the ‘search settings’ pages and ‘My Account’ pages.

Duncan speculates that it might be to help make room for new features. There could be something to this – although it could also just be a redesign and to increase usability as the settings pages were a little complicated.

Combination Adsense Ads Appearing

There are more reports today from Adsense publishers who are seeing combination ads with both ‘adlink’ ads and normal ‘text ads’ in the same adblock.

Quick Online tips talks about it here and Blog Logic here. Here are a couple of screen captures as examples of what people are noticing.

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Blog Pulse Trend Graphs

BlogPulse has developed clickable trend graphs that let you track what is being talked about in the blogosphere.

It would be handy for tracking a topic you’re blogging on. For example covering the story of the transition of Popes the following graph shows when the key moments were.

pope.jpg

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Blogging about Products

Trevor Cook has an interesting post reflecting upon one of the most highly posts on his blog – a post about ‘Gmail Not Working’.

‘it leaves me wondering whether one of the best ways of boosting traffic is to write lots of stuff about products, good and bad.’

In a sense what Trevor has accidentally found with his post is the power of the long tail and his suggestion isn’t too far from the truth of what a lot of successful bloggers are doing with their posting about products. Take a look at Gizmodo and Engadget as to big examples – both are posting specifically about consumer electronic products – each post on a different one.

Whilst they don’t post something good and something bad about each product – their model of generating traffic is obviously very successful.

It reminds me of a post I wrote months ago about a study that found that products and brand names were among the most searched for terms on the internet.

28% of all Google searches were for product names and 9% were for brand names. I guess it makes sense that if you want to tap into this need of web surfers that you actually do blog about products and brands.

Google AdSense Blog?

AdMoolah wonders if Google might be getting ready to release an official Adsense blog. They write:

‘I recently discovered (via the JenSense Blog) that Google has a blog for AdWords advertisers at adwords.blogspot.com. It made me wonder why they didn’t have a blog for AdSense publishers. So, I tried typing in adsense.blogspot.com, and I got a username/password dialog box. So something is there, we just can’t see it.’

This would definitely be a smart move by Good as I mentioned a week back.

Adsense Ads with Icons Appearing

There are reports in the past 24 hours that icons are beginning to appear in Adsense ads. The Hybrid Car Forums are one example as can be seen from the following screen capture of their ads.

It looks like this might be a new feature they are testing. I suspect that the theory is that icons will draw readers eyes to the ad and bring higher CTR.

adsense-icon.jpg

Update: Jensense notes that the icons are the advertisers favicons and points to this discussion over at webmaster world.

ProBlogger throws a Sick Day

Please don’t expect anything too profound here today – I seem to have caught a stomach bud – it was a long night to say the least. I don’t know why but whenever I am sick I dream very vividly of ‘blogging going wrong’. Glad to log on this morning to see that everything seems ok though. I just wont be posting much unless I get second wind – back to bed for me.