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    Statistics can improve your business blogIf you want to improve the focus of your blog and make sure that it’s doing its job, then the best place to start (as well as asking your readers directly) is to check on your stats or analytics package. It contains a mine of useful information which will allow you to target areas which could do with a modification (or an overhaul) on your blog.

    Most of the the stats packages worth their salt will offer a range of statistics covering your readers, their journey through your blog and how they found it in the first place. It’ll give you details of who is reading what, which are the most popular (and unpopular subjects) that you’re writing about as well as showing you what are the phrases being used to find you. It’ll also let you see how easy it is to find information on your blog – we all know where to find it on our own blogs but can other people?

    Make it part of your routine

    Analysing and using this information is best done as part of a circular flow which we carry out on our blog, not on a daily basis, but at least regularly. By doing this, we can make sure that we’re keeping up with what our readers are demanding of us … even if they don’t really realise it! :)
    Blog Development Wheel

    I’m sure that we are all aware of the Research > Write > Promote of the equation, although we probably all know that there’s more that we could be doing … well, that’s certainly the case for me anyway. However, the Analyse and Modify might be less automatic. For me, this means getting the information I can from the stats available and then modifying either the blog (to better suit my business aims) or the style and perhaps the focus of future posts. A useful exercise though not after every post!!

    Getting down and dirty with your Stats

    So what should you look for in your stats and what can you do with the information you find? Well, personally, I focus mainly on three things, though no doubt all of the figures they provide can be put to good use one way or another:

      i) what people are reading most of

      ii) what keywords they are using to find my site in the search engines; and,

      iii) which other sites they are coming from.

    i) What people are reading most of (coupled with the figures I get from Feedburner for my RSS feed) helps me hone my content and lets me try to write more articles which will appeal to my readers. Obviously you can’t do this exclusively or the blog posts get very “samey” – and that’s got to be negative – but catering to your audience is a good thing, so use the information to help you write on relevant topics but don’t be dictated to by it.

    What is also does is help me introduce them to relevant services I offer – if a post on Blog Optimisation is getting a lot of interest, then it makes sense for me to promote my Blog Consulting services alongside that post. Relevant information for people clearly interested in a topic I cover.

    ii) When I see that there are certain keyword phrases which bringing new readers to the blog (particularly when they go on to visit other pages), I can presume that I’m ranking well for them and that they are relevant to my target audience because they are finding other articles of interest. This lets me know that, while I should obviously continue to write on this topic bacuse it’s popular, I should concentrate on other keywords as well if I want to widen the scope of my ranked pages in the search engines.

    iii) Finally, when I see that there is a lot of traffic coming from a certain site, then the likelihood is I’m going to check it out. If it is a link from another blogger or an article referencing my blog on another site, then this is an opportunity to get in touch, make contact and thank them for referencing my site. There might also be other opportunities for collaboration on other topics or even projects. If the link is coming from a social bookmarking site such as Stumble Upon or Digg, then again I know that an article has struck a chord and that my own blog promotion efforts are working, giving me additional focus for the future.

    Some Stats packages

    There are a couple that I use primarily: as an overall package Google Analytics is a good bet. It’s free and comprehensive in the figures it feeds back, if a little overwhelming at times. The only downside is that the figures take 24 hours to come through, not too much of an issue if you are looking at overall trends but not so good if you want to track a campaign you have in place as it happens. For this, I run Statcounter which has a free service and then a paid one for extra capacity – also recommended is GetClicky which again I have had good feedback about. If you are using WordPress, then there are also a number that you can run internally – as a start point you might like to check Mashable’s article from last year or WordPress own Plugin directory.

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    Little Daniel WhiteIt’s not my norm to mix business and personal on this blog – my focus is generally purely business and hopefully helping to create business for others through their use of blogs and social media.

    However, as a personal event of real significance, the birth of your first child comes fairly high up the scale and I’m proud to say that that’s exactly what happened to me last Saturday, with the arrival of Daniel. Just over 7lbs of healthy baby boy with an exceptional pair of lungs if first impressions are anything to go by! I should add that this is also the main reason for the recent lack of activity on my blogs – ideally I would have posted sooner to explain but events overtook us and they have a tendency to do!

    One thing that is already becoming apparent, even after so few days, is the need to get a routine established early. Currently, the constant feeds during the night mean that I’m not too sure what day it is let alone what time it is. A routine will benefit both baby and parents … I hope!

    Bizarrely enough, blogging has the same requirements in many respects – blogging can also be time consuming and it will certainly benefit from a routine. The more that we are able to plan ahead and get into a routine in terms of researching and writing the individual posts, as well as dedicating time to developing and marketing the Business Blog as a whole, will be of benefit. Planning, and then maintaining, a routine also means that we are more likely to achieve our goals for the blog.

    So try to get your blogging routine going as soon as you can, as it will really benefit you – I can also guarantee that it will be a whole lot easier than the one I’m trying to put in place currently with young Daniel!! :)

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    I really liked Brian Clark’s post The Five Essential Elements of an Influential Blog over at Copyblogger. In fact, that is generally my reaction to a great many of his excellent posts so I’d certainly encourage you to get him in your RSS Reader if you haven’t already.

    In this post, he proposes that, to be truly influential and by implication gain the level of readers and traffic we are looking to, a blog should have 5 key components:

    • Simple - so that the core elements behind it can be easily communicated which will help your message to spread

    • Unexpected – so that it stands out above the others in its field either because of its different ideas or the way in which it expresses them

    • Concrete – so that the information the blog contains is directly useful to your readers

    • Credible – because your readers need to trust you and what you are communicating for the blog to be valuable to them

    • Story – which brings together and helps to communicate all of the other elements of the blog in a way which triggers not only an intellectual response but also an emotional one

    I think that from a Business Blog perspective, I would probably also add Focus to this list – while it may already be implicitly bound up as part of some of the others, I believe it worthy of its own mention.

    In some blogs, this focus can result in a blog with a relatively narrow field of content, but with a real depth of comment which makes it worth reading and hence influential. In others, the focus is more of a central theme around which other ideas gravitate and spark off from. In both cases, the focus is a key factor in the blog’s success and ultimately its longevity.

    Brian also concludes the post by stating:


    How you say it is important.

    But what you say is critical.

    Absolutely, but it is the combination of the two that makes certain blogs really stand out – Copyblogger among them, in my opinion.

    Business Blogs, whether run by large corporates or individual professionals like myself, should certainly aim for this. However, we need to remember that it is an ongoing process so making any change, no matter how small, will be a step in the right direction.

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