4 October 2009

Weekly Geeks 2009-38: Difficult to Navigate blogs

This week's Weekly Geeks task basically asks us to consider how navigable our blogs are, whether people can find what they want, whether they have a whole raft of features, such as this checklist.
  • navigable site
  • tags
  • RSS feed button
  • contact details
  • comments space
  • searchable
  • links all work
  • rating system accessible
  • glossary of strange acronyms
One of the problems with developing your blog is that it grows a bit like Topsy, or in our local idiom, like "the house that Jack built". The Jack in question added rooms and other features as the mood or the need took him, and the result was a bit like this beautiful image (reproduced here under Creative Commons licencing). Click on the image and you'll see the portfolio it is part of.

I've done the blog analysis thingy several times now, taken people's advice, swept away features that I was really fond of but others found cluttersome, and I think the result is that what I've got I really like.

I've thought about how and why "traffic" comes to my blog.
If I look at the various analysis tools I have running, particularly the FEEDJIT, what I've learnt is that while I have a number of followers and friends who visit regularly and read most new posts, about half my visitors come as a result of a search for specific content. Sometimes I don't really understand, given what they were searching for, why Google threw them my way. But often they have searched for a particular book or a particular author, and I am just a tram stop on their quest for information.
So in terms of being part of that search train, a critical mass of crime fiction reviews, information about authors etc. is important. The more there is , the more visitors will come.
The interesting thing about the "searching" visitors is that they have been delivered to a specific page on the blog, and often go no further. Sometimes they they look around a little, but not often.

Sitemeter gives me this sort of information:
Average Per Day151
Average Visit Length1:58
Last Hour9
This Week1,058
So you see most stay for as long as it takes them to read the review or the post.

Participating in community events such as Weekly Geeks, Sunday Salon and Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books, brings people to your blog, although not a lot of them seem to be crime fiction addicts like me. Hosting events yourself such as the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge, the Agatha Christie Blog Tour, and my latest, the Crime Fiction Alphabet Community Meme, will bring visitors too and cement your place in the genre community.

The most solid advice I can give to other bloggers is to make sure that people have something to do when they come to your blog. Run an event, a poll, or a giveaway, or put yourself into the review chain. By the latter I mean, when you write a review give the readers other places to go to add to what they have found out from you. Link to the author's site, or to other reviews of the same book.

So now, off you go back to the Weekly Geeks home page, and see what others have said (You've spent your allocated minute ot two here). Come back some time soon. Oh, by the way, why not leave a comment to let me know what you think of my ramblings?


Chrisbookarama said...

I'm always forgetting to link to other reviews. Blogs are a lot of maintenance, aren't they?

Kerrie said...

Soemtimes your blog feels a bit like "work" Chris, but they also give so much pleasure. I have a customised (Google)Crime Fiction Search (needs a bit of updating) that helps me find other reviews fairly easily. See my side bar - easy to set up at Google.

pussreboots said...

I link to reviews but often times the book I've reviewed isn't a popular one. So then there aren't other reviews to link to. My post is here.

gautami tripathy said...

I have added google analytics and it does seem to work. Although I haven't checked it as often as I should.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! for this post. It really is helpful for the blogger and for those who read the blog if the blogger takes the time to carefully develop her or his blog. Guess it's time for me to look at mine....

Dorte H said...

I agree that all the memes are a good way of getting in touch with lots of bloggers. On the other hand, I am a bit ambivalent about them, because many of these visitors write about all genres, and some of them do not write about books at all. So sometimes it seems to me that I spend a lot of time visiting blogs that are not really within my field. And I just don´t have that extra time. For me, blogging has always been about getting in touch with other lovers of crime fiction.

Sarah said...

Hi Kerrie,

Interesting post with great ideas. (And my first ever visit to a crime fic blog!)

I liked your observation about a critical mass of reviews, I have definitely found that to be true.

Excellent advice about giving the reader something to do on site. I hesitate to ask leading questions in posts, or to insert polls, in case there is no response :( But it is a good idea, and I need to to be braver...

Kerrie said...

I think sometimes we can become too critical of what our blogs are doing. Many of us are well beyond "blogging 101" if you take my meaning there, and our blogs reflect the sorts of things that interest us. My last slash and burn on my blog was pretty drastic and to be quite honest I'm fairly happy with it now. I'm still a little addicted to widgets but now I'm more likely to try them for a while, see how they feel, and then decide to leave them or cut them. The last one I added was the Link Within one, and I like what that does, and in Feedjit I can see that some people use it.

Kerrie said...

Dorte, like you I am interested mainly in the crime fiction blogs, and there are surprisingly few of us around - or perhaps I should say - I have already come across a large proportion of them. There were/are surprisingly few dedicated crime fiction bloggers active in BBAW for example, or on Sunday Salon, or Weekly Geeks. I find out about more through our Crime and Mystery Fiction Friend Feed, and through some Google alerts I have running for "mystery fiction" and "crime fiction". I also monitor about 120 crime fiction blogs on my RSS reader - most of them are running on my Blogs I'm watching site.

Kerrie said...

Sarah - I find running polls and then writing follow up posts on the results works well too. A really good piece of advice I came across a while back went along these lines - don't think oyu have to be the final authority in your blog post. Leave the door open for others to comment, leave your post a bit open ended. I despair sometimes when I go to someone's blog and see they've already had 35 comments (I hardly ever get that many), but then I look at the content and my envy evaporates a little.

Anonymous said...

LOL fun post! The only thing is I that I already *came* from the weeklygeeks site, so now I'm off to view some of your other posts ;) I'm not a crime geek but I do like a good mystery every once in a while! I would have loved to join the Wilkie Collins Circuit with The Moonstone but 'I sure ain't got time'!


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