Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Making A Mark - popular posts in 2008

I'm doing my own personal review of what I achieved in 2008 - which I'll be posting later today - and decided to take a look at what were my most popular blog posts in 2008. Well, one thing led to another and before I knew it I had a new information site on squidoo Making A Mark - Popular Posts and a widget which creates a list which I can post on this blog to show to you what the most popular blog posts were (problems with widget - see note at end).

I knew this was a good idea because Seth Godin - winner of the The Make Me Think Gong - did it first! (see A year's worth of popular posts).

Here's what I noticed about the posts which Google Analytics told me were most popular:
  • I continue to get a considerable amount of traffic for posts which were created in 2006 and 2007. That's partly because I've made these very accessible. The way I did this was by creating information sites for specific topics in Squidoo which list relevant posts from this blog. People find the information site and then come and read the blog posts. Check out Making A Mark on Squidoo if you want to see all the information sites I've created. The notion of continuing to make your inventory of past posts accessible in order to generate traffic is one recommended by Jakob Neilsen - the guru of web usability. This is how he does it for his own material using Alertbox.
  • A lot of the posts are information about art supplies relating to drawing and sketching and coloured pencils. People like to know more about what's available and which are the best.
  • People also very much like advice, information, tips and techniques relating to "how to" approach a particular task. Some of my most popular ones relate, not surprisingly to drawing and sketching.
  • Students of art history are particularly interested in blog posts which highlight either those aspects of an artist which are not covered very well elsewhere or any post which provides a neat summary of the information available on the internet. I've got a couple of posts which I rather suspect are now identified on recommended reading lists!
In short people like to read informative posts - as you've often told me in comments on this blog!

If you're creating good information for artists on your blog you might want to think about how you can continue to make that information accessible for people who come along later and might be interested in reading it too.

I'm now thinking about creating another listing of popular posts which were created in 2008. I find that keeping popular posts under review tells me a lot about where my readers and I have very common interests.

Do you review your most popular blog posts?

What were your most popular blog posts in 2008?

[Note: I can't work out why I can't the widget to produce a plexo listing like the one on Seth Godin's blog - and will update when I've worked out how!]


  1. One of my problems with old posts are the spammers. Hard to sort out the real traffic from the spam. I have one post in particular that gets huge spam hits - so I'm never quite sure about the others.

    Have you noticed this or had this problem?

  2. Hi Lisa - I keep a fairly close eye on where hits are coming from using my stats packages. Anything out of the ordinary and I'm on to it straight away

    I'm generally taking an approach which is aimed at deterring spammers - and it seems to work.
    - I've got a tried and trusted routine now for reporting spam sites which seems to work.
    - I continue to moderate all comments and always check out all new people who comment.
    - Plus I've got Google Alerts set up for various keywords references to the blog and that usually does the trick when it comes to picking up on spam fast.

    Virtually all the threads which get lots of traffic have fairly obvious reasons why they are popular. I've left out a couple of posts which seem to get far more traffic than I think they should - however no matter how hard I try I still can't track their traffic back to spam sites!

  3. Plus I forgot to say - I can more or less correlate the traffic I get on my squidoo information sites with the traffic I get on this blog. What's very popular there is also popular here - and vice versa.

  4. Plus I also forgot to say what was the main contribution to the reduction of spam!!! DUH!

    I always publish a truncated form of the post - never the full post. It turned out to be the most effective thing I could do to limit spam.

    The spam dropped right off as soon as I did this.

    Plus since everybody who reads my blog knows I write long posts it seemed to me it was much kinder to publish a truncated form anyway!

  5. I've never really looked at this element of my blog and I suppose I should. Like all other aspects of review, knowing what is most popular helps guide you into the future.

    Great post! Now how do I track what is most popular??

  6. You use Google Analytics. I didn't know how to do it before this morning - and it's not that difficult to work out

    however - if you can't, just leave a comment below and if enough people don't understand how to do that, then I'll do a simple step-by-step explanation of how to do it.

  7. Katherine,
    Can you speak more to your tried and trusted routine for reporting spammers? Or maybe you have written about this somewhere in your archives? What I've found is a remarkable lack of responsiveness when reporting spam commenters to their originating hosts, especially those in the RIPE network. In addition to spam comments there are the horrid "splogs" (spam blogs) that will basically syndicate others' blog posts to populate fake blogs for the purpose of generating revenue from ads. Wordpress blogs (like mine) seem especially prone to them. Any way, this is a bit off topic to the content of your post! The sideline topic just caught my eye here because I've had a real problem with the whole blog spamming thing.

  8. P.S. Here's a vote for a tutorial on tracking popular posts via Google Analytics! :-)

  9. Jennifer - vote noted! ;)

    I use comment moderation with the verification switched on - and that deals with virtually all comment spammers. The ones that get through are largely people behaving in an ignorant way rather than the mechanised operations

    In relation to spam blogs, I have written about this - it'll listed be in my Blogging for Artists site.

    The trick is to watch out for Google Adwords on the spam blog - and you report it straight to Google Adwords - citing the URL of your original blog post and where your copyright notice is. Plus you use the Google webmaster tool to report the URL of the spam blog. That should cancel the Adwords contract and take the blog out of Google's index - end of spam blog.

    I've done that a few times now.....and will continue to do it (for the benefit of any and all spammers out there!)

    Reporting them to Google ad words hits them where it hurts as the purpose of all spam blogs is to make money.

  10. I am sorry to say I only get about half of what you all are writing about. When I return from out of town I intend to revisit all this and put my mind to it, clearly it is important. (I am the one who still can't figure out multiple remote controls.) Happy New Year, Katherine (and everyone else.) Enjoy your blog immensely.

  11. I would very much appreciate a "how to install google analytics" to Blogger.
    I read through the instrucitons, but feel real timid with messing about with the template being very new at this.
    I am very comfortable with gadgets though.

  12. I'm so glad others would also like to know how to find our most popular posts - I have no idea. Please, it would be great to know.

    Happy New Year, Katherine and many, many thanks for another year of fantastic posts. See you in 2009!!!

  13. Katherine - Thanks for the info.

    You are way more proactive than I am. I think I maybe don't have the passion for it. I check my stats maybe twice a month if I remember. I'd rather twitter. Ha.

    And you already know my thoughts on your truncated posts - it's why I let a pile of your posts build up before reading - I apparently am also too lazy to click! But in the end I know it's worth it so once a week or so I'll do it.

    You and Colin (auspiciousdragon - photographer) are the only 2 people in my reader that publish truncated posts. Everyone else that did this got deleted. It's a privileged that comes only with quality. :)

    Happy New Year.


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