Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

What makes a blog reach the front page?

with 5 comments

In my last post, I discussed how one of my own entries rather arbitrarily, and without my control, became a success. (By the current standards of this blog—there are many established blogs that would consider the same traffic a letdown.)

In a next step, this lead me to reflect on the disappointing quality of the blog entries published on wordpress.com’s homepagee: While some are good, most are superficial, have no depth or insight, lack an edge, are not thought-provoking, … The posts that I really consider valuable, I have typically found buried in the tag listings.

What do these posts have that brings them to the homepage? I have no idea what goes on behind the scenes, but a few impressions of beneficial factors:

  1. They are often noticeably longer than the typical post, sometimes approaching the length of a magazine article. However, they do not necessarily say more in the space used than many shorter posts.

  2. They tend to be above average in language quality, measured in e.g. typos; however, are often written in a very bland and populistic style, not entirely unlike e.g. an airplane magazine.

  3. The average number and quality of pictures is far above the overall average. Arguably, however, most pictures have no informational value and many have their only benefit in making the visual impression of the page more pleasing (occasionally, they fail even there). This is, again, reminiscent of how many magazines directed at the masses work.

  4. Most have a picture that fits the homepage entry format well and is of unusually high quality—but which says nothing about the actual article.

  5. Similarly, most have a catchy, but uninformative, title. (Typically, clicking on one of these entries is something I do in complete ignorance of what I will find on the other side. Notably, the homepage does not publish the excerpts that can be found in e.g. the tag listing.)

  6. They often have content that, IMO, will appeal sufficiently to most readers that they are an adequate time killer when nothing else is available—however, they rarely have a great appeal to any individual group. Again, not dissimilar to an airplane magazine…

All in all: If an author could write for an airplane magazine, he might have a good shoot of getting to the homepage. But: How many of us would actually read, let alone pay for, an airplane magazine when something else is available? Do not judge a book by its cover, but by its content—and do not select a post based on how “polished” it is, but look at the actual ideas and insights present.

(Disclaimer: While I have read a few dozen homepage posts in the last two months, I cannot guarantee that I have a representative sample—or that WordPress will continue to make choices matching these criteria. Further, the above analysis is likely incomplete.)

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Written by michaeleriksson

April 15, 2010 at 8:52 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,

5 Responses

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  1. What you have said is correct , all those posting on the “famous” or popular blogs that word press provides is just frivolous and i have realized that adding pictures and videos do help because eventually in the modern age people are more interested in watching than reading.

    sheokhanda

    April 18, 2010 at 8:00 am

  2. Great observations Michael… In an ideal world, we should not be judging a book (or a blog) by it’s cover. However, we’re living in such times that people don’t want to stop and read, everyone’s in such a hurry that they have very little time. So what they’re doing is, looking for visual stuff to help them understand the point faster.
    Sadly, a little time may be saved but a lot of good writing is ignored.

    Lua

    April 18, 2010 at 8:31 pm

  3. Well, as a new blogger myself, with not a lot of computer savvy, your observations are very helpful to me. Because, like everyone else, I hope to have great content, but if no one ever reads it, who cares! I think I will now educate myself on how to make my page more interesting to look at.

    Thanks!

    collaborationconversation

    April 27, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    • You are welcome. Just don’t forget that writing can, in and by itself, be very rewarding—even if one does go unread.

      michaeleriksson

      April 27, 2010 at 10:49 pm

  4. Hi Michael, I was curious what you write about and – I could not agree more with your post here.

    When I first started my blog a few weeks ago, I thought “Great. I’ll just go to the homepage and find brilliant content”. Since blogging for me is as much about reading as about writing. But nope. Almost all blog posts featured there are just blah and thus completely fail at what blogging should be for me: funny, provacative, insightful, witty or something else that leaves you with a clear impression. Not a corporate feel of nice.

    TaleTellerin

    May 6, 2010 at 11:13 pm


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