How to Figure Out How Well Your Blogging Competitors Are Doing
As you seek out and watch your blogging competitors, you can pick up tips about the topics they're covering in their blogs and analyze how well they’re reaching out to their audiences.
As you visit these blogs, keep a journal of your impressions. Investigate how these bloggers are handling publishing and outreach by paying attention to the following:
How frequently the blogger puts new posts on the blog: Frequency of blog posts is a big deal. Any blogger will tell you to post frequently, but almost none can tell you want that really means. Bottom line: As you become a reader of that blog, do you find yourself wanting more content or less?
What time blog posts are being published: Time of day can have a surprising impact on how a blog post is received. Think about it this way: You need to reach your audience members when they’re likely to be sitting at their computer.
The length of posts on the blog: Some bloggers swear by the short and sweet recipe that guides most Web writing. Others find that longer posts — even essays — do the job, keeping readers on the site longer and providing more thoughtful commentary.
The topic of your blog, as well as your audience’s appetite and available time, dictate the natural length of your blog posts. Looking at your competitor’s blogs can tell you the number of words they find optimal in a blog post, which is a good starting point for your blog.
When the blogger links to outside Web sites: Linking to other blogs and Web sites is a great way to serve the reader. By pointing out other sources of information or even other blogs, you help them become more knowledgeable about your topic and keep them engaged with it.
So, when do your competitors choose to link to other sites, and what sites do they link to? Are the links designed to entertain, educate, or inform? Are links included in the text of the post or broken out at the end? What makes you click a link yourself?
When the blogger addresses his or her audience directly: Lots of bloggers use a personal writing style that directly acknowledges the reader. Or, depending on the topic of your blog, perhaps a more formal, almost academic approach works better.
Either way, check out how your competition is handling this issue. When do they ask the readers for input or feedback, and how do they phrase those requests? Do readers actually respond, and to what kinds of approaches?
Use of multimedia like photos, audio, and video: Though the majority of blogs are made up of lots and lots of words, that doesn’t mean you can’t throw in the occasional (or even frequent) picture or video. In fact, bloggers do it all the time to dress things up visually and keep readers interested.
Are your competitors using photos to illustrate the ideas in the posts, or just to attract the eye? What about animation or video? Do posts with these extras get more comments or fewer? Do you like getting information in these other formats or is it just distracting?
Posts that get lots of comments and posts that get very few: A blog that gets lots of comments is a sign that the blogger is resonating with his or her audience. A blog with no or few comments is probably just leaving people flat and maybe just isn’t being read.
Some blog posts just get better response than others, and part of what makes a blogger successful is being able to know what makes those posts really work, so that the success can be repeated. Watch your competitor’s blogs to see when a post gets a big response, and look at what that response is.
You can use these same points of analysis on your own blog, too. After your blog has been up and running for a while, take a look at your own content with the same critical eye you just used on your competitors. What are you doing right and wrong?