Running A First Time Reader Audit On Your Blog
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.
Here’s my take on what you need to consider for your blog:
- Always put the most important widgets at the top of the blog
- Search widget – top of blog or top of sidebar
- RSS feed using Feedburner – here’s how to add it to your blog but remember to redirect all your feed through Feedburner!
- Subscribe by email using Feedburner – here’s how to add Feeburner email subscription to your blog
- 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
- Place category widget above tag widget in your sidebar
- AVOID excessive use of bold, italics and colored font in posts – this is my first tips for writing better blog posts
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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.
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9 thoughts on “Running A First Time Reader Audit On Your Blog”
Another tip would be to design your blog post as if it will be read in a reader (because it probably will). It’s not worth spending ages agonising over getting it “just so” because most people won’t read posts at your actual blog site and all of that formatting will be overridden anyway.
I also find blogrolls very valuable – if I like your blog then I’d probably like others on your blogroll as well. And vice versa – if there’s ones I like on your blogroll, Ill probably like yours too, so am quicker to add it to my feeds.
Good point Penny about design of blog posts when most people read in their readers. I always preview on sites and then when comes through in my reader make sure it is looking okay in there.
Blogrolls is a hard thing. Mine is so long I have a separate page. And it can upset people if they aren’t on it.
Kia ora Sue
Some good tips here, thanks!
Your info on fonts, font size and italics is similar to what I’d learnt some time ago about designing web pages. The reasons are exactly the same. Thanks for confirmaing this.
What a hoot about the blog title. I spoke with Tony Karrer about this. One has always to think of the bigger picture, I guess, and this can be difficult for people who are very good about putting the focus on specifics.
Good to know about the importance of important widgets and where to put them on a blog site.
Steve Dembo and I did agree to disagree over the placement of widgets however if you look at most probloggers you will get a good idea of order and how much.
Trouble with name and blog URL is that you often choose it when starting out and don’t consider the long term because you are new.
We have some checklists within our course. From memory, we stress:
1. Coherence. You should have an AboutMe, a look, and content that make sense together. For instance, avoid having an AboutMe that is full of personal interest stuff but a blog that is basically commercial. If the blog is commercial in nature, admit it.
2. Coherent and Pithy. Find the essence of why you are blogging and who should care. For instance, if your interest is words, it is OK to have a wordy blog. If your interests are the visual arts, be sure to be visually sophisticated. The AboutMe is a good item to focus on. Have on the home page, a very short AboutMe so that at first view, you attract visitors. While more detail can be provided elsewhere, the first glimpse of your AboutMe, whether a picture or a description, should tell the appeal of your blog.
Mine, for instance, “A black belt at 50” communicates the martial arts interest and the struggle to remain fit.
Good points about the About page – I didn’t touch on it because it is a task for later (and later is looking far away at the moment — says she laughing).
There are pros and cons with having an About information on your home page. Definitely a benefit if you have room on your blog side bar. My other blog has it because I have three column theme but this blog only has two so a bit of an issue. Plans are for this blog soon to have an extreme makeover so you never know — may happen then.
PS my hubby does Taekwondo – shame I can’t convince him to blog about it – mind you he would drive me crazy with questions. Staying fit – he is doing really well – even after breaking his arm twice in one year.