Part 1: What makes a popular post?
Fellow bloggers, humour me for a moment and consider the following: Which posts are your most popular? Which posts are your most searched? Which of your posts draw in the most comments and likes? If the answer to these questions is usually the posts that you don’t expect, then you likely blog for yourself first, and the audience second.
Do you find that you write a more personal piece, and it is barely read, or commented on? Yet you write a light hearted piece on a men’s magazine that contained the headline “Tina Fey is hot” and it pulls in more views, likes and comments than you ever considered. Why is this? Perhaps in one sense you don’t know your audience, or perhaps you might just be discovering it. Blogging is a learning game after all.
In my brief experience of blogging (about four months now), I’ve noticed the following:
- If you gain some regular readers, the more personal posts will invite comments and likes from them. They have gotten to know you a bit through your posts, so the personal ones are giving them a bit more, rewarding them a little in that way, and building on that relationship.
- On the other hand, the personal posts will generally not draw in many readers as they don’t have the personal connection, aside from the odd passing “tourist” who may have a connection in some way, and will therefore be drawn in.
- Posts which are on a specific subject, e.g. writing tips, will draw in readers looking for the specific thing. Or they may have some experiences of it, that they may wish to share or can contribute to the subject.
- Posts which are a bit more general e.g. about blogging, provide a common experience for all sorts of bloggers, so it will be easier for them to interact with your post, and be more enticing to new readers.
- Posts which are more general still, e.g. The Rolling Stone top 500 albums ever, might draw in more views via search engines, but not the interactivity. This is also to say that the searcher may be after one thing, and not the thing the way you have written about it, which by the way, is not a criticism. Or a reader might like it, but have no wish to comment or press “like” (see the next point).
- The “comments” and “like” functions are the tools of the reader from the blog community, but not necessarily everyone else. You may have some RSS readers, or readers via search sites who read some of your posts then leave. I know I do this when looking up certain subjects via google, but I don’t want to sign up to whatever web community it might be, and make a comment on it. I just want the written info.
- If you are lucky enough to write a personal piece, but on a subject which many people are interested in, then this will be likely be the one which draws in “comments” and “likes”, but also a lot of views.
- If you join some sort of competition, or writing group type challenge, e.g. monthly ROW80, you will get other like minded individuals who have also joined, as readers, and perhaps a few more additional interested ones (not that I would know having not joined one, but I was informed this was the case).
Part 2: The “experiment” in viewing figures
In some separate posts by myself and by blogging friends, the subject of popular search terms has cropped up. Terms that frequently appear in your stats, but seem to have little in common, other than a phrase, with the subject posted about. Plus there is a few odd ones which seem to have nothing in common at all other than two or three words occurred in a post, often paragraphs apart. On this blog “soft splats” is one example. So we discussed whether including a bunch of popular or odd search things would boost the viewings on a post, or indeed whether it would have any impact at all.
So let us assume for a moment that I want to be a blog whore. I want to put it out there, I want the viewers, I want the readers. Generally, I don’t, I’m ok with the amount of readers and views I have, but for this post I want to be different. I want it, and all of it. I want to put it about. Mmm, I hope this isn’t a choice I come to regret, but I digress. Sure there are many ways to help build an audience for your blog, WordPress themselves did a posting on this, see how to get more views, and how to get more comments. I see no reason to cover that ground again and that is not what I’m after here. I want the viewings first, and any new readers, “comments” and “likes” are a good bonus. So the experiment is thus, add in to this post, some commonly used web browser search phrases or other things that I’m guessing may turn up, and see what it does to the views on this post. See what crops up in the search terms in the stats. It will be an artificial boost somewhat, and it is not to say that part 1 above may also draw in some additional readers. But let us see what happens, so let us cover some search terms with added brainsplats nonsense here:
Some random popular search terms
- Harry Potter is about being a nerd. I never read the books but I saw some of the films. School appears to have changed since I was there.
- You can check some popular trends here: http://www.google.com/trends/hottrends – I decided to pinch (and add):
- Kate Upton is popular. I have no idea who she is
- Rodney King sadly took one beating too many.
- The NBA finals have just finished with Miami winning. Sports channels like to talk about LeBron James especially now he has his first championship. I would not have mentioned him but he has a minor share in LFC.
- The European championships (Euro 2012) are on. Steven Gerrard (LFC captain), is the England captain. Roy Hodgson (ex Liverpool manager) is the England manager. England have thus far done better than expected (we all thought they were crap).
- What do Lindsay Lohan, the returning TV show Dallas, Miley Cyrus, and Kim Kardashian have in common? – Nothing that I am aware of.
- Wimbledon Tennis starts soon and True Blood is back on. Both feature pasty looking people knocking things around a bit.
- Pacquiao got robbed against Bradley meaning the fight against Floyd Mayweather will likely never happen. If this was the UFC, they would have faced off when they were at their respective peaks, a few years ago.
- Tina Turner is still alive apparently, where as Henry Hill (of Goodfellas fame), is not.
- Game of Thrones and Mad Men, are great sunday night shows that have ended their current seasons. The returning Falling Skies is a big slab of cheese in comparison.
Some random nonsense (assuming the above isn’t)
- Purple Bananas wibble and wobble their way to squiggle and squelch land of the springs, where beds and fresh water run hand in hand.
- I like random writing terms like paragraph, full stop, blog post, words to avoid, number of words, writing inspiration, writing prompt, author, artist, writer, and notepad.
- Is it more fun to insult people from Belgium or Germany (in a non racist way of course)? Or come to think or it, the Irish or the Welsh?
- I ought to mention Apple, ipod, ipad 2 and ipad 3, and the new iPhone 5. Plus I want a new Macbook Pro retina screen model. Well it is Apple isn’t it?
- Add to that these random things – Disney, Pixar, Toy Story, DVD, downloads, MP3, Music, dance, jiggly, underwear, jockstrap and monkey.
Part 3. The mini conclusion
So I have a post of two parts. Hopefully part 1 will be of interest to many bloggers and blog readers. These are simply my thoughts on blogs posts, I make no comment about whether writing for yourself or an audience is better other than to say as far as I’m concerned either approach is fine, it depends what you want out of your blog.
Part 2 may be of interest to no-one other than me, or people who want to know what daft search terms crop up, if any. I shall monitor the stats of this post, and do an update in a week or two. Does all this nonsense boost the viewing figures, if only for a day or two? Does it do nothing? I shall find out. Feel free to enter your thoughts in the box below on either part.
Lexicon word of the day: incommutable.