Saturday, September 12, 2015

How to Write Better Blog Posts

At the beginning of the month I suggested that we spring clean or "pimp" our family history blogs.

I tidied my blog up - design-wise - and am much happier with the look.  The font is bigger.  The background is light.  I think it looks much cleaner.  I hope it is much easier to read.

I've been looking at my stats and created a score card  to analyse my top three blog posts of all time. I used Hemingway App and Wordle as tools for analysis.  My score card and analysis tool is here.  Please use it to analyse your family history posts if you think it's useful.

My top scoring blog post in Google Terms and number of page-views was this one.  

This post scored 2767 page views.  

My headline was 11 words long. The optimal length is 6 words according to this author

The post had only one picture and was 776 words long.  The optimal words length for a post according to Kevan Lee is 1600 words and according to this post 2416 words. 

My top ranking post rated a 9th Grade reading level using the Hemingway App. The target is 10th Grade but a 5th Grade reading level can work just as well. 

The post had only 5 adverbs.  

I had 9 sentences that are difficult to read.  

My use of the passive voice seems to be my biggest weakness.  In this post I used a passive voice 6 times.  

I was participating in a Genealogy Meme which I think always helps.

I linked to other sites 11 times.   

Using Wordle I could see that my most used words were: Genealogy, Tool and Family. I'm going to call them my Keywords.  

Here is the Wordle Picture....

But what was I writing about?  I was responding to the question "Which paid genealogy tool do you appreciate the most?" What a great question!  I talked about my experience using various subscriptions.  They included databases, software, magazines, societies and family history courses.

My 2nd highest scoring blog post according to Google was here with 624 page views. 

Reading Grade Level was 5th Grade. 

My headline was only 6 words this time. 

I used 12 pictures.  

My word length was longer - 1104 words.  

I linked to 11 sites again.  

I used 11 adverbs this time.  

I used a passive voice 8 times.  

I had only 6 hard to read sentences.  

Once again I participated in a Blogging Meme.  

Keywords were: think, boat and photo.  Go figure!  

What was that blog post about?  I was responding to a meme about boats on Sepia Saturday.  It took me in all sorts of directions.   I talked about my boating memories.  I even found something on Trove that related to my boating days - a Lost Notice for a life-jacket.  I posted some pictures I found on Picture Queensland.  Then I posted some pictures of my grandfather's boating days and posed a few questions.

My 3rd highest scoring blog post according to Google with 608 page views is here.   

Reading Level was 8th Grade. 

Headline length was 8 words. 

Word length was 1104.  

I used 7 pictures.  

I linked to 26 other sites– holy guacamole!  

There were 15 hard to read sentences.  

I used 7 adverbs and spoke in a passive voice 14 times. 

I didn't take part in a Meme on this occasion.
Keywords were: Queensland, QFHS and Past.  

Here is the Wordle picture.

In this last blog post I reported on the Unlock the Past series of seminars held around the country last year.  I met  fellow bloggers Caitie and Helen for the first time.  I won a prize and generally had a fabulous day. I wanted to spread the word and make sure no-one else missed out round the country.

From this I can deduce that best length for my blog posts is about 1000 words. 

From now on I will put my posts through Hemingway before posting them to see if that makes a difference. I will limit my headlines to 6 words to see if that makes a difference too. I will try to link to more sites – 11 seems to be a good numer. Crikey!

Yes I put this post through my score card and here is the analysis:

Headline: 6

Number of words: 806

Number of Pictures: 4

Number of links: 7

Reading Level : 3rd Grade

Difficult to read sentences: 0

Number of Adverbs: 0

Use of Passive Voice: 0

Reading Time: 3"13"

Meme: No

Keywords: words, post, used

Oh dear!  The word count seems low and so does the Reading Level.  So I beefed it up a bit by reflecting on my content.

In the end - is it about design, stats, content or voice?  Or indeed ALL  - mixed together like a good fruitcake. 

How do you measure content?  Content that works for me is my experiences, my memories and a kind of reportage. 

What do you think gets you higher page views?  What makes for a good or successful family history blog post?  Has this post been useful to you?  Will you use the score card do you think? 


ScotSue said...

A fascinating, informative post, Alex. I am not particularly IT savy, but found Hemingway very easy to use and tested sections of my posts. I would have difficulty in writing a title of only 6 words, particularity where I need to include the Geneabloggers prompt title to get featured on the site. I came out well on the non-use of the passive tense, and on adverbs, which surprised me - I would have liked some guidance on adjectives as well. My weakest area was too complex sentences. So I must put all this into practice. I was vaguely aware of this type of prose analysis, but nothing on the detail, so thank you for introducing me to Hemingway.

Tony Proctor said...

That's a really good question Alex. I don't profess to know the answer but I feel that there's an element of "bootstrap" required in there. The subject is crucial, closely followed by the presentation (incl. pictures, structure, language). However, grabbing people's attention is a prerequisite; if you don't get people "on board" then it will never get 'Likes' or 'Shares', both of which are fundamental to successful metrics. I know, for instance, that my own focus on content over entertainment means that my posts can be very long, and seem a little dry. I'm happy with what I said, but less so with how I said it.

Alex Daw said...

Dear Sue - I am so pleased that you found the Hemingway app of use. I am embarrassed how long it took me between purchasing and actually using it - 12 months!

Alex Daw said...

Dear Tony - thank you for visiting my blog. I had to look up the meaning of bootstrap - I think i know what you mean - self-evaluation? self-awareness? self-monitoring? Yes, on reflection I think the content is primary and supported by good design/illustration, clear communication etc. And yes...getting attention in this most media-prolific world. I will browse your blog with great interest in return.