Case study: Re-building a blog from the ground up

re-building a blog

Today I’m trying something different.

A brave person from our {grow} community has volunteered to let me tear apart his blog … in the most gracious way possible, of course!  G. David Dodd is permitting me to dissect his blog B2B Marketing Directions and provide recommendations that I think will probably help a lot of people and dramatically improve David’s content marketing opportunities.

Here we go. This is the top of Mr. Dodd’s blog with numbers that correspond to my comments.

re-building a blog

The first opportunity I will point out is invisible to you. David is blogging on Blogspot, which is disconnected from his business website. Why would you be driving traffic to Blogspot and building all that power and inbound marketing equity only to send them to away from your website?  Makes no sense. You MUST integrate your blog into your website. This is the number one priority for Mr. Dodd in this case.

Layout

oneOverall, the blog layout is a bit out-dated and tired. If you are creating special content, wrap it up in a worthy package. I would recommend a re-fresh of the blog design. With the wonderful design templates available for WordPress that are under $100, there is really no reason you can’t have a beautiful blog within just a week or so.

I like the idea of clearly stating the purpose of the blog upfront on the banner like this, but there is a misplaced period here. Watch for spelling and grammatical errors like this because this is your front door to the world!

Graphics

twoThis post doesn’t have any illustrations. Let’s entertain and delight our readers by finding a photo on Flickr Creative Commons, one of my favorite spots for free illustrations. This blog post is about a Marketing Answer Machine. Here is an illustration I found to go with this piece:

re-building a blog

Isn’t that cool? It took me two minutes to select this illustration, add it to the post and provide proper attribution at the end of the article. This would make the whole post more bold and interesting for almost no effort. Also, adding a meta tag behind this illustration provides a little SEO kick (You can do this easily on WordPress).

Headline

threeI like this headline very much. It’s descriptive, accurate, and short enough to tweet. I submitted this to a free headline analyzer and it provided a score of 44. Really any score over 30 is pretty good so Mr. Dodd has a winner here. Headlines are the most important part of the blog post. If people don’t click to read, they will never see the post!

Social sharing buttons

fourAlthough Mr. Dodd has social sharing buttons at the bottom of his post, I think he should also have them at the top. This provides convenience for the reader and also adds an element of social proof if you display how many shares the post has received. What I mean by social proof is, if the post has been shared a few times, others might feel more comfortable sharing it too …. and sharing is what we LOVE!

Subscription buttons

fiveIt is nice to have a prominent place that allows you to easily subscribe, but I am confused by these buttons. Why would you want to subscribe to the comments and not the blog?  If I “follow by email,” well … how is that different from subscribing? I would simply have one nice bold subscription button here.

Also, this sidebar would be a great place to add a call to action to bring people deeper on to your site. Perhaps Mr. Dood could offer a free eBook or consultation.

Content and readability

sixThis is a very good blog post. Mr. Dodd is commenting on a post from another blogger (me!), which is an easy and legitimate way to create meaningful content. He provides proper attribution and appropriately links to the original post. About at this point in the post, a subhead would be useful to break up the copy and lead the reader down the page. A subhead increases readability and provides a little SEO kick.

I ran this post through a free app to test readability and it provided a score indicating the post is at about a tenth grade reading level, which is very good. The easier, the better.

Now let’s look at the bottom of the blog post:

re-building a blog

Ending with a question

sevenIt’s always nice to end the post with a question to invite engagement. For a post like this, a question like “Do you agree with the author’s point about Big Data, or will this continue to be an issue for marketers? I find that many people simply can’t leave a question unanswered :  )

Social sharing part 2

eightWe finally find the social sharing buttons on the blog but they are so small that it is hard to notice. In fact they are so small, you have to be a pretty accurate clicker to even get it right. It would probably be a good idea to add LinkedIn to this set since the blog focuses on business to business topics.

Categories

nineMr. Dodd has been doing a great job blogging consistently and creating meaningful categories for readers to explore. Did you know these categories add pages to your site and can have a small influence on site authority?

Further promotion

tenMr. Dodd is missing a big opportunity to keep people on his page by not featuring suggested items for further reading. At the bottom of my post, you will see additional reading based on the subject of this post. This increases my page views by about 8 percent. Also, I am glad to see Mr. Dodd continues to allow comments on the blog. The trend in many places is to eliminate comments, but to me that just misses the point of a blog. There are so many benefits to blog comments, not to mention that people who comment are also more likely to share your post.

So now let’s all give a round of applause for David Dodd and his willingness to be under the microscope in a way that will help many other bloggers, and perhaps even prompt some discussion. I would cherish your comments. Did you pick up something new today?

Top illustration courtesy Flickr CC and Jongky

Middle illustration courtesy Flickr CC and Karen

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