Blogging success: Analyzing and growing blog audiences


 

 Journalism and Technology column 
 
By Julie E. Dodd and Judy Robinson,
University of Florida faculty members
Published April/May 2010 in Quill & Scroll magazine

 

Blogging Success: Analyzing and Growing Your Audience

Do you know how many people are visiting your blog?

Here are ways to get your blog known and increase your readership:

  • Make your blog public – In setting up your blog’s preferences, be sure your blog is checked as public. That means the blogging service you use will let others see that you have a blog.

WordPress has a feature where other WordPress blog posts that have the same keywords and tags as your blog post will list your post at the bottom of the other blogs.  In order to take advantage of this, you need to be sure to list tags and keywords each time you post to your blog.

  • Write blog titles/headlines that will draw readers – The title of each post is very important. Search engines like Google will search the Web and then index the title of your blog.  If, for example, your post is a review of gaming devices and has the title, “Which gaming device should you get?” you will attract fewer readers than if your title was “Xbox 360:  Is it the best gaming device?”

Here’s how we know.

Use a tool like Google Keyword Tool, and you can see the most searched words.  Go to  www.google.com/sktool.  At the bottom of that page select “Or see top keywords across all categories.”   On the next page select Hobbies and Leisure.  What’s the top searched word in this category — Xbox 360. One million people had Googled that term. So if your blog had Xbox 360 in the title of a post, your blog would be found by Google and then by the people searching that term. You can click on the magnifying glass beside the word and get more details such as which places in the world is that word searched the most.

  • Include tags that describe the content of your posts – You have two ways to “tag” your post. You can set up a list of recurring terms/themes for your blog. After writing a post, you can click which of those terms apply to this post, and those terms will be tags for that particular post. You also can write tags that apply just to a particular post. Those tags also will help search engines find your blog. Because the search engines gather data about your blog from the title and the tags, you want to use as many specific tags that relate to your post as well as using highly searched words.

 

  • Find other blogs on topics similar to your blog and link to those blogs – Whenever you find another blog with topics similar to yours, link to that blog or add the blog to your blogroll (the list of blogs you include on your blog).  In turn you will find that those bloggers will see that you direct visitors to their blogs and they will link back. Blogging is a world where sharing brings more sharing.  If you learn to read your statistics, you will also be able to tell when other bloggers give you a shoutout (referral) and send readers to your site.

It is not cool in the blogging world to email bloggers and ask if they will put you on their blogrolls.  Instead, post comments on other blogs with your own tagline being the URL for your blog. Of course your comments need to be thoughtful, genuine and appropriate to the post and not just to get a link.

  • Include trackbacks as part of your posts – When you have links or embeds in your posts to other sites, podcasts, YouTube or blogs, put that URL in the “trackback” part of your post. If the other websites look at their statistics, they will see that your blog mentioned them and will come read your blog – and hopefully come back to your blog again.
  • Analyzing your Audience – You want to be able to see who is visiting your blog, who has subscribed to your blog, and what posts they have liked the most.  Nothing tells you this more than analyzing your statistics. If you use WordPress.com, the stats provided for free are excellent.  They will show you how many people visited your blog, what posts they read, and where they came from (the Web page they were on before visiting your blog).  If you use Blogger or Tumblr, be sure to use a free service like Google Analytics or Statcounter and embed the code on your site so you can learn about your visitors.  Set this up as soon as possible, as it usually takes a week or so before you will start to see results and what other blogs link to you.
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