Finding Book Gold in Blog Post Archives

diamondsIf you are an author who blogs then you have the opportunity to incorporate content from your blog into a book.   We have chronicled a number of successful blog to book (“blook”) storieson Future Perfect Publishing.  But once you have accumulated numerous posts in your blog’s archives, it gets difficult to remember which ones were relevant and popular.  Post titles, tags and categories can provide clues to relevance, especially if your book outline coheres in some form with your category labels.  But what is the best way to select those gems that your book’s readers will respond to?  Is there a some objective way to asses your blog’s content and guide your choices? 

One way might be to use  comments.  Comments represent an investment of time by the reader to respond to something you posted.  They probably feel strongly about what you’ve written and that certainly merits consideration.  Also, there is some evidence that lots of comments improve the search rankings of posts on Google and possibly other search engines.   Comments by themselves may be an unreliable guide to selecting popular blog content however.  For example, comments are often used as a way to leave links to another site.  Also, comments are often sparse on a blog relative to the interest the blog gets in terms of overall visitors and page views.

A second approach may be to use bookmarks.  Bookmarks are a proxy for interest.  Posts that receive bookmarks from readers have undoubtedly engaged them.  And a bookmark indicates the reader wants to share the post beyond the audience coming to the blog.  Again, however, posts with lots of bookmarks may be relatively scarce. 

Another measure of post popolarity is the number of page views it receives over time.  Once a post has passed into the archives, it will still turn up in search results or via links to it from other sites.  Both of these are indicators that the post holds interest for readers.  You could conceptually arrange your posts in a distribution with those having the most page views at the head, and extending out in a “long tail” to those with relatively few page views.  This rather blunt measurement can be refined a bit further, as follows:

  • Longevity – the number of days since the original post.  This is useful to find topics that might be evergreen
  • Concentration – the number of days since the original post for which there were page views.  Some posts may see all their activity concentrated in a few days (e.g. posts related to news stories) and thus may not be as “durable” as a post that continues to receive page views day after day. 
  • Density– the number o page views for the post divided by the overall page views for the blog.  This shows the contribution of the post to overall blog activity. 

panning for goldSo how would you use these measures to find the gold in your blog?  I would look for posts with a high number of page views, reasonable longevity, low concentration and relatively high density.  These represent posts that have demonstrated the ability to draw readers over time.  There is definitely some work involved in making these measurements.  But the nuggets they yield could more than compensate for the modest amount of time invested for their calculation.

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