How to improve my blog for me me meme

I got a shout from Maurice over at his Cayman Islands blog on a a blog improvement meme started by Dane.

I’ve been thinking about this topic for some time. There is quite a bit on this blog that I think could do with a little attention, or at least make for a bit of a discussion.

General layout

For starters, I’d like to introduce a fluid theme (that’s one that stretches to a users screen size). My fixed theme is great, I love its look Ive used it for a while, its a great looking design and an impressive job. However, I’m losing out on a lot of screen real estate that could be used in better ways. I often feel like Im writing on paper and using huge margins left and right. I wonder if others feel similarly. Many of the good blogs I read these days use a layout that’s tailored towards the bigger screen resolutions.

Of course, my main reason for not doing so sooner is that I’ve made a hell of a lot of modifications to this existing theme which will be a bit of pain to add to any new layout.Add to that the need to upgrade to WP2.3 and I find myself losing the will to live.

Comment form usabilty

I’d also like to improve the usability of my comment form. Sebastian has some good reasons for doing so over at his SEO blog. I’m also going to take another look at my comment template and see if I can ajaxify some of the componants. I’d also like to alter the way I communicate my comment policy. As it stands, I link to some rant from within a big pile of words that are a bit of a mouthful – it isn’t an ideal solution. It might help to stick the words in a little pop up somewhere perhaps and drop the rant maybe.

Subscribe to comments

I’m not too happy with my subscribe to comments option either and find that my position has shifted somewhat from my original little rant. I thought about giving people a cookie option to choose. I thought about an onload event too whereby some div opened up asking 1st time visitors how they’d like to be treated, do they want follow up emails to their comments or do they not. I’m still undecided and kind of find myself thinking about going back to the default unchecked option. The problem always was that there are pros and cons on both sides and well, I sided with one that felt ok at the time.

Interacting with existing visitors

It could also be a good idea to give regular visitors some additional insights into say, how many people had read an article they’d commented on, what locations they’d came from, who was linking to the page that sort of thing. This could be a useful hook to grab a new subscriber or registration even. I can see the subtle attraction of an <? if(user_registered) { ?> show more stuff <? }?> option.

Writing better stuff that people will want to read

I’ve said it once I’ve said it twice I’m no Shakespeare . I do tend to waffle on and fly off on tangents that began in the recesses of my cannister and bounced off of the insides of my noddle a few times. I’d like to write a few more factual informative pieces, case studies things like that. Maybe make them available as a subscription or registered user option.

I try and avoid too many topical issues. I try not to follow the crowd and parrot a different version of what someone else out there is saying already. I think that by staying individual and true to who I am then some people somewhere will carry on reading me and as more stumble across my stuff then that reader base should grow.

I had 180 subscribers earlier which is really cool and a small indicator that I’m doing something right somewhere. I never really thought about getting lots and lots of readers here, but must confess to feeling a tiny degree of satisfaction that people around the globe find some of what I say interesting enough to hit a little button somewhere.

Getting out and about more

You can improve your blogs visibilty by getting out and about and commenting on other peoples stuff. I really need to do this more and expand my little circle. I tend to read the same people daily and whilst this is a good thing (they write interesting stuff) I do find that I might be spending too much time reading them and not enough time reading others.

I try not to be one of these people who targets A-listers or people with big established subscriber bases but it does need to be said that this is a good tactic for getting yourself better known. If you bang on the right doors hard enough and in the right kind of ways then eventually they might just open and send you a boat load of traffic.

Alas, such an approach doesn’t really fit with who I am, I’m not too good at it, I’m just not one of lifes schmoozers.I did give it a conscious try some time back but found myself thinking, hang on, what am I doing, I’m only commenting because he has a lot of readers, and heck they didn’t even acknowledge what I said, what the hell am I doing, so well… end of. I’m sure it looked far too transparent, sheeat the manipulative SEO strikes again.

Henceforth, the modus operandi is, one of if I talk about someone or comment on their stuff I’ll do so because:

  • They are discussing something that I’m genuinely interested in that has relevance to what I’m discussing and my readership
  • I simply like them or respect what they stand for and what they do and how they do it
  • I disagree strongly with an opinon or policy and need to let them know why.

I’ll probably see my blog’s subscriber base grow more slowly as a result, but I don’t really care so much. I’d rather grow my base on the back of being true to who I am, than as a result of being some comment attention seeking brown nosing whore.

It really is possible to grow a successful blog without being so.

Anyhow I feel myself beginning to waffle so I’m going to tag….a few people I’ve seen around at Sphinn I think, and see what happens, thanks for listening.

Ben Shana Bob Marty and Tancy01

Subscribe to my blog its bloody excellent I tell you!

Seriously, I kid you not, my blog is the best tech blog on the whole planet! Word for word it’s an 1800lb watch-very-carefully-and-learn-mindfest-of-OMGiness.

Ok, so maybe not, I’m just kidding, it certainly isn’t the best blog on the planet, not yet in anycase. I’ll have to work a whole lot harder to attain that heady status.

Which kind of brings me round to the question of what is the  best blog on the planet, and of how you even begin to  define such a thing.

We could start out by sending out questionaires to everyone who ever went online and read a blog and ask them… but yeah, that might take some time.

Then there would be the formulation of the list.

Dear Internet user

Here is a list of 50 million blogs. Do me a big lemon will you, have a little look and tell me what is your favourite and why.



p.s Sorry for the email, it’s not spam , honest.

Nah, that wouldn’t work too well. 50 million blogs is a lot of blogs on a lot of topics. I think we need to narrow it down a little at least. Lets stick to tech blogs 1st and see how we do.

We could start by looking at metrics and numbers and check out which blogs have the highest scores. lets try technorati.

Hmmn two metrics there. Most linked to, and most favourited.

I won’t list the 100 shown, I’ll just stick with the top 5 on each page.

Starting with most favourited we have with
2,719,  with  2,225,  Techcrunch 1,935,  1,766  and with 1,627 .

Most linked to we had Engadget in position 1, Boingboing position 2,   position 3, Techcrunch position 4 and in position 5.

So that’s a good start no? I now have 7 blogs which have lots of other blogs linking to them and lots of other people favouriting them too. I have to make a choice though, I only want to compare 5 so I guess I’d better decide which two to drop.

So using alexa to make a little graph lets see what I can come up with for the stray 4.

Ok, 2 clear winners, Gizmodo and Lifehacker. Lets now run all five through alexa and see what we get.

Wow, according to alexa boingboing is now in position 5.

So, we now have a list thats gone through 2 filters and we have.

1. Engadget 
2. Techcrunch 
3. Gizmodo
4. Lifehacker
5. Boingboing

Hmmn, maybe I can finesse this a little further. Perhaps I can use some linkage data from Yahoo’s site explorer tool and see if this corresponds with anything I have thus far.

1. Gizmodo 10,002,348
2. Engadget 8,448,057
3. Lifehacker 5,912,415
4. Boingboing 3,959,676
5. Techcrunch 2,918,058

Hmmn, I’m still none the wiser. Techcrunch has dropped from 2nd  to last, Gizmodo has risen to 1st whilst everyone else has fallen.

I could look at their reported feedburner numbers and see what they tell me..

1. Engadget  nothing reported
2. Techcrunch  587,000 readers
3. Gizmodo nothing reported but does show site stats

Total 8,221,664   
   Average Per Day 25,703   
   Average Visit Length 0:22   
   Last Hour 903   
   Today 9,435   
   This Week 179,924

4. Lifehacker  nothing reported
5. Boingboing damn nothing reported

At this point I think I’ll give up. It really seems that it all depends on who is doing the measuring and what exactly is being measured and how those figures can be influenced and by whom.I think I’ll stick with the tried and tested poll approach. Just need to get as many netizens to this page as possible and get them to vote…

Oh and psst, don’t forget to subscribe to my bloody blog its excellent I tell you blog, one day you’ll be able to brag and say, I subscribed to that blog when the guy had just a 150 readers 😉


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