Running A First Time Reader Audit On Your Blog

Image of magnifying glass Day 2 in the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog Project is to Do a First Time Reader Audit on your blog. This is one of the MOST important tasks of the 31 Days Project.  How you see your blog and what you write about is often totally different from how viewed by others.

Take the time to do a Reader Audit of your blog even if you’re not doing the 31 Days Project; you will be amazed how it helps improve your blog.

Conducting A Blog Audit

While there’s merit to Darren Rowse’s suggestions of what to watch for as the reader surfs your blog I think it was a bad mistake to JUST recommend family and friends as the first time readers.  Generally they have little to no knowledge of blogs so aren’t necessarily reflective of your intended audience.

Definitely watch someone surf your blog (even if the only person available isn’t a blog reader) BUT also get more experienced blogger(s) to do a readers audit.  The more input the better; each sees different aspects.  Michele Martin‘s audit for Paul Nichols highlighted aspects I would’ve missed; similarly Anne Mirtschin‘s review for Carole McCulloch.

My Checklist

Image of sidebar orderHere’s my take on what you need to consider for your blog:

  1. Always put the most important widgets at the top of the blog
  2. Search widget – top of blog or top of sidebar
  3. RSS feed using Feedburner – here’s how to add it to your blog but remember to redirect all your feed through Feedburner!
  4. Subscribe by email using Feedburner – here’s how to add Feeburner email subscription to your blog
  5. Effectively use both categories and tags on your post to make it easier in the long term for readers (and yourself) to find posts – here’s the difference between categories and tags
  6. Place category widget above tag widget in your sidebar
  7. AVOID excessive use of bold, italics and colored font in posts – this is my first tips for writing better blog posts
  8. Use images effectively to engage attention – strongly recommend working from the bottom post on this page upwards to read all the posts relating to images in blog posts
  9. Avoid blog themes with strong colors or text that is too small that distract the reader from content and make them not want to read it – here’s what to consider when choosing a blog theme
  10. Choose a blog title that is immediately meaningful and relevant to first time visitors – this can make or break their decision to become a subscriber (YES Mobile Technology in TAFE is an extreme example of a REALLY crappy blog title 8) which has loses me first time readers)

NOTE : Excluded About Pages and sidebar clutter because they are tasks from other days in the 31 Days Project.

FINAL THOUGHTS

So what did I miss on the checklist? What would questions would you use on a checklist if you asked an experienced blogger to review your blog – Darren’s questions or other?

PS my blog theme’s annoying me again — which one shall I choose next?

If you’re interesting in joining us on this 31 Days to Building a Better Blog Project – leave a comment to let us know.  You can do it at your own pace!  My current interpretation of a day is approximately 4 days.

Image by Helmetti licensed under Creative Commons ShareAlike.

And if you’re enjoying this blog, please consider Subscribing for free!