I love stats. Some people call you a stat whore or call stats evil, but there is a reason you can get a degree in statistics in college. Stats are used everywhere.
Sports, financial, technology, everywhere data is kept and you can gain so much information by examining statistics beyond surface level. It can show you where you need to improve, what works, what doesn’t, and how to reach more people.
There are many reasons to have a blog, but is one of them to reach more people? If so, you should know something about how to reach those people your blog is targeting. Statistics is one way to evaluate how to do that. If you don’t care about reaching new readers than I guess none of that matters, but many bloggers want to reach out.
A quick few tips for reaching new readers in 2009 on your blog would be something you can gain from your statistics. Your stats just tell you how you have done, not what to do. So, my few tips for what they are worth would be:
1. Keywords – be descriptive in your posts and your titles, the Internet runs off keywords. If you had to pick one or the other, blog titles would come first. Google keys off title tags so choose a title that is descriptive (like a newspaper headline) that accurately describes your post.
Keywords are not bad, they are just describing your post more accurately for the search engines to find the post. For example, instead of saying we are going to be watching new year’s eve shows tonight, say we will be watching Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve 2009.
2. Content – the phrase content is king is still true. Want people to be interested in reading your blog, write original and thoughtful content. Don’t repeat material found on other blogs and don’t re-post content from other places but instead, write about your thoughts on that topic and link to the original content.
3. Show Some Link Love – one of the best things you can do for a fellow blogger is link to the direct post. Linking to their blog is great, linking directly to a post they have written is even better. The reason behind this is by doing so, you give their specific post more relevance when being looked at by google and it creates a pingback to their blog. Google operates their search algorithms by deciding what is more relevant that something else, and one of the ways it does this is by the buzz around a post or article, and lets face it, the higher you are on Google’s list, the more visitors you will have to your blog or website.
4. Consistency – post with some consistency. You don’t have to post every day, but posting once, then a month later doing another post, then a week later doesn’t always work well with search engines. The code on your blog should be consistent as well. This pretty much taken care of by WordPress or Typepad but the more frequently you change the focus on your blog or theme or coding the less relevant Google sees your blog.
5. Focus (remember your readers) – know your readers and pick a few key subjects and focus your blog on those topics. For my personal blog, I focus on faith, photography, and personal topics and I try not to stray to far away from those topics (which are broad anyway). Remember your readers. You may think you are writing your blog for yourself, but you are really writing for your readers. If you are writing for yourself and no one else, then there are several journal programs that will accomplish that purpose, but supposedly a blog is a “web log” about life, sharing ideas, information, and most of all communicating with others (i.e. your readers).
Bonus. Read other blogs and comment – ok, so there were actually 6 points, but I left the best for last. To me, one of the most important things to do as a blogger is read other people’s blogs, and leave thought driven comments. Blogging is a two way communication, not one way. You should be ready to interact with your readers, and interact with other bloggers. Blogs that only go one way become stale and cold. Bloggers love comments. If you want comments on your own blog, leave comments on other people’s blogs yourself. Don’t spam your fellow bloggers. Read, and if it was a thought provoking post, leave them a comment with your thoughts.
You can have the best content, the highest ranking, the best graphical design, and if you don’t allow comments, and never interact or comment yourself, your blog will be cold and corporate. When I come across blogs that don’t allow comments that are in my feed reader, I title them in my reader with the extension “(blog title) – [no comments]” and they are usually the last blog I read, if at all.
The best example of how not to do it I have is from Desiring God. John Piper has one of the very best blogs, period. The content is incredible, the design is great, he has a ton of readers, and he doesn’t allow comments on his blog and (as far as I can tell) does not interact with his readers or responds to his email (at least not mine). His blog also does one big no no on rss feeds and that is provide a partial post that requires the reader to actually go to the site to read the article. And because of this, I rarely read his blog, but it is one of the best on the Internet.
UPDATE 01/11/09: I have to say after a bit of reflection, I am not sure the above criticism of John Piper’s website is all that warranted, strictly because of the value of the content that actually is posted. I guess my point was that in the blogging community, comments make the blogs go round, and I still think it is very important, but I guess purely great content can totally overcome this point, and the Desiring God blog is one example of having such outstanding content that it may not make any difference, but I think that is an exception.
What are your plans for your blog for 2009?