Blog Performance: First things first

Mar 12, 2012 | Better Blogging

Do you want to improve the performance of your blog? Before you immerse yourself in SEO strategies, promotional schemes and social media tactics, spend some time on the basics.

Define your audience

When Alice asked the Cat for directions, she said she didn’t care where she wound up. “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

If you don’t care who you’re writing for, it doesn’t much matter what you write. Decide who your audience is. You should know something about them. You should understand their problems and issues and worries and hopes.

See “This post is for Ed” for more ideas.

Decide what you want to be known for

This is the favorite question of Tom Hall. Tom built one of the most successful advertising agencies in the Southeast, in part by asking every client to answer that question: “What do you want to be known for?”

So, what do you want people to think of when they think of your blog? What do you want them to say when they tell their friends about it?

Here are two examples. Dan Rockwell answers that question on the banner of his Leadership Freak blog: “Helping leaders reach higher in 300 words or less.” At Compensation Café, the answer is “Serving up straight talk, original thinking and caffeinated discussion on everything compensation.” What’s your answer?

Evaluate your writing

Driving lots of traffic to a mediocre blog is a dumb strategy. Great promotional strategies can get people to read your blog once. After that, it’s up to the blog. Here are two ways you can assess the quality of your writing.

Use the Reading Ease feature on Microsoft Word. You’ll find two measures that turn reading ease into a number: the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease score and the Flesch Grade Level score. Both use a combination of word length and sentence length and complexity to arrive at a number.

The Grade Level measure is used by many government agencies, including the Army. The standard for Army technical manuals is a ninth grade level or lower. The Reading Ease measurement is one of those where higher numbers are better numbers. For reference, an average Time Magazine article scores around 50. This blog post has a Grade Level of 6.4 and a Reading Ease score of 71.

You can also ask someone you know to help you evaluate your writing. But beware: many of your friends will take that as an assignment to tell you that you do good work. Others will imagine their job as finding everything that’s wrong with your writing. You want some objectivity.

Pick someone who loves you, doesn’t know a lot about your subject, who will tell you the truth and (this is important) whom you will listen to. Have them evaluate a few of your best posts.

The Bottom Line

Before you worry about promoting your blog, worry about making it good. First things first.

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