Discussion: How People Read Blogs

Where I work, we are in process of updating our website.  It’s a sorely needed change, and as the point person and main updater of our online spaces, I’m excited.  Among other things, the update will come with Google Analytics tracking capability, which we haven’t had before.  (I know, I know — it’s sad.)  This means that when we launch the new site, I’ll be able to see how people interact with it.  I’ll know what pages people click on, what information they’re looking for, and I’ll be able to improve and offer more of what they want, which is beneficial for both the company and the customer.

This website project has gotten me more interested in how people interact with blogs.  We all like to look at our blog stats; we want others to read our stuff.  To encourage this, I’ve tried to make it as easy as possible to browse my blog and find something to read.  Before I updated, I had category links in my menu, recent and popular posts in my sidebar, and tag clouds and archives available as well.  This was also for me; I like seeing my accomplishments, so having it all displayed that way made me happy.

However, I’ve noticed that most of my readers don’t browse my blog that way.  What people read is my most recent stuff, which makes sense.  I also get pretty steady views on a certain few posts — people Google politics in the show Jane the Virgin quite often.  Other than that, people don’t really browse my blog the way I thought they might when I set it up.  If I see someone clicking on a menu item above, or an archived post, it’s a surprise.

If anything, this confirms what I know about blogs and marketing — new and consistent content is always going to be the most important thing if you want steady readership.  While navigation and searchability is important, the most well-organized blog will only get read if it gets updated on a regular basis.

I’m okay with this.  Before I knew my readership patterns, I low-key obsessed about having my content super organized.  I never got it to the level I wanted it to be, because honestly WordPress doesn’t have a great system for re-tagging and re-categorizing after publishing, but I aspired to have every post perfectly labeled.  Now, I’ve realized that really doesn’t matter.  I didn’t worry about it too much before, but it’s still nice to have that pressure off.  Knowing what I know about my readers, I can focus on writing, which is the whole point of this space.

Do you track what people read on your blog?  Do people read your blog differently than they read mine?  Do you organize your blog for your readers, or so you can look back at your own content?

17 comments

  1. Love what you’ve said here! So true that blogging creates a great outlet to freely express our different experiences, BUT equally it’s so easy to get distracted & bogged down in anxiety over the numbers/comparing ourselves to other bloggers – how many followers you might have, how many people read what you publish, and so on – I’ve found that if you’re totally comfortable with whatever niche YOUR blog fits into and what YOU yourself want from it, then it makes things a whole lot easier and less stressful to worry about. Either people will like what you publish and enjoy reading new content, or they don’t and won’t. No use worrying about what we can’t control. Whatever you publish, if you’re genuinely passionate about it then it shines through in the content, and so many readers will appreciate that enthusiasm for a subject you love ❤ Keep up the writing! 😀

  2. I have to echo the comments of previous readers. People mostly read my new stuff, unless I link to some of my older posts in a current post. There are some link ups that allow you to post older articles, I think. That might be a way to get new readers for old posts. My very first post (from last January) is actually one of my favorites!

  3. This is really interesting! I wonder how many people actually visit my blog, rather than just reading everything in the WordPress Reader. Funnily enough I was going through all of my blog posts the other day and wondering how to promote my old posts. I have some favourites amongst them, but they haven’t been read that much as they are old. I am finding the whole stats thing interesting, but still learning about what it all means! But I do tend to agree, writing regularly does seem to be key!

  4. As I just wrote about earlier this week… I have a handful of posts that get read every. single. day. People rarely read the old stuff and I think that’s a shame. I’d like all bloggers to have a “best post” list to drive me towards where the author thinks their best writing is. I seriously doubt that I interact with blogs like most people. I love it when someone writes a post that starts a conversation.

    • I know! That’s part of what got me thinking about this. I tried to go through my own posts and pick a favorite to comment on yours but I couldn’t decide. I thought that was such a cool thing you did though; it says a lot about a person what they say their best stuff is. I’ll have to go back through the comments on that and read some.

    • It’s a mixed bag. Probably my favorite is Brian Power’s poem about running. I’m glad I’m not responsible for the website at my work. I’d do a miserable job. I’m one of the facebook administrators and I hate it.

    • I’ll make sure to look at that one. I love the website project though. I am a bit nervous about people possibly giving bad reviews and comments that I’ll have to moderate but we don’t even have any social media presence yet so hopefully I won’t have to deal with that for a bit

  5. I haven’t checked my stats since Nero fiddled while Rome burned. I write mostly for myself, so stats just get me thinking about why people don’t read certain posts, which gets the insecurities riled up… and so on LOL

  6. I like to check and see my Stats from time to time- I get a kick out of looking at what countries people are viewing from. It always blows my mind how far around the world my words go. On mine, I have noticed that while people go for the newer content…. that occasionally older posts will pop up and suddenly gain steam again. I never know how or why- but when that happens I will go re-share on social media because clearly someone was interested in that particular post. I try not to get too obsessed with all the numbers and such but I can see how one can fall down the rabbit hole so quickly.

    • That’s interesting! I just have those few that seem to get found in Google searches a lot. Yeah, I think it’s important to try and have balance with worrying about blog stats. It’s so interesting but like you said sooo easy to get too caught up in it.

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