Does Your Blog Pass the 10 Second Test?

12 Blog Tips to Get Your Edge Back

Does your blog pass the 10 second test? After scanning your blog homepage, does a visitor know what it’s about and get pulled into your content? To answer this question, you need to do some mother-in-law testing on your blog (Note: Mother-in-law testing is where you ask your mother-in-law or other hypercritical relative or friend for their input. It’s not scientific but it can yield helpful advice.)

12 Blog tips to ensure your blog has focus

Here are twelve points to help get your blog in focus and bring it to the next level.

  1. What do you want from your blog? What are your blog goal(s)? While this doesn’t need to be obvious to your readers, it’s important to guide your blog and its development. Each of your blog elements and posts should build towards your objective. TIP: Before you start blogging, determine what you want your blog to achieve. You don’t need to make these public but they should part of your overall plan. Are you writing for personal reasons or to support a business? The only exception is a personal journal.
  2. Are you writing for me? Who’s your blog audience? Are the people you think should be interested in your content, the ones who visit? TIP: Determine who your target reader base is. Think in terms of demographics, psychographics and interests and past behaviors. Go one step further to create targeted marketing personas so you feel that you’re writing for someone specific.
  3. Is this a live blog or just a test? Realize that your header is the first thing that visitors see. If you just use a generic template or amateurishly designed header, the rest of your blog doesn’t stand a chance. TIP: Consider your blog’s design to ensure that it appeals to your target reader base.
  4. Are you trying to get my attention? What’s your blog’s title? Does it help reel in new readers because it’s intriguing or has a clear focus? Does your tagline support your efforts? TIP: Your title should appeal to your target audience. Test it on a few prospects. Do they understand it? When developing a blog title and/or tagline, don’t be overly cutesy. Think in terms of search and keywords.
  5. What are you talking about? Can visitors tell what your topic or focus is? If not, you’ve got a problem. Are your posts all over the place? Are your ads irrelevant to your topic? TIP: Brainstorm categories and regular columns. This should be information your target market’s interested in. Not sure what they want, ask them. Understand you need to fulfill your readers’ needs or they’re gone.
  6. How am I supposed to know what’s important? Most readers scan for information. If everything looks the same, their eyes glaze over and they’ll leave. TIP: Make it easy for readers to consume your blog content through the use of different level headings, bolding and lists.
  7. Did you want me to look at something special? Without photographs, illustrations or charts, blogs loose readers. These visual items are reader magnets. They draw the human eye in. TIP: Spiff up your blog posts with visual aids. Use photographs, charts, presentations, maps and videos. You don’t have to create this material yourself. You can use other people’s content that has appropriate rights.
  8. Does your blog try to be all things to all people? This problem occurs when bloggers combine personal and professional blogs in one. While an occasional personal comment shows you’re human, a post about your family combined with how to be a great sales person doesn’t work. TIP: If you’ve got a lot to discuss, create more than one blog. This is particularly important if you’re in the job market. Further, if your goals is to expand your audience, make sure that your blog isn’t just your personal story.
  9. Is your blog only focused on you? Like the joke, enough about me, what do you think of me? Let’s be clear, even your mother doesn’t want to know that much about you! TIP: To broaden your perspective, create an editorial calendar. Include interviews of important people in your niche. Alternatively, have a roundup post of the top five to ten blog posts in your category with a comment on each. These posts take you out of yourself and help create new content.
  10. Do you only write when the spirit moves you (which isn’t very often)? While it’s your right to only blog when the spirit moves you, to develop a consistent audience, you need to build the expectation that you’ll post every Monday or whatever your schedule is TIP: Before you make your blog public write about ten posts. This gives you a backlog of content in case something happens and you can’t blog. It also helps you determine your content creation schedule. At a minimum, post at least once a week.
  11. Does your content lack zing? Do you write about the same thing other bloggers in your vertical do?  Is your perspective different or is your content me-too information? If you answered yes, rethink your content strategy to determine how you can add a new twist. TIP: Are you challenged by blank blog post syndrome? Go through your keyword list and brainstorm a new blog post idea for each one. In addition, here are 125 free blog topics and 99 blog titles.
  12. Is your blog plastered with ads? While bloggers may want or need to earn money from blogging, there’s problem when your blog looks like one big advertisement that’s irrelevant to readers. TIP: If you carry ads on your blog, place them strategically so readers can focus on them without getting distracted. It helps if you endorse the products. Understand that you must disclose if you’ve been given the product. (This is an FTC requirement.)

Even experienced bloggers, periodically need to take a step back and assess how their blog’s doing in order to get the next level. You don’t need to use all of these tips at once, just use a few tips at a time so that the process doesn’t seem overwhelming. Remember blogging is evolutionary: you’re learning your blog and yourself at the same time.

Do you have any other blogging tips that you’d add to this list? If so, please include them in the comment section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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Photo credit: smaedli via Flickr.

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