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?