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31DBBB Day 4: Analyze a Top Blog in Your Niche

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This is Day 4 of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, a group project 60+ of us bloggers are doing together in an effort to help each other become better bloggers. You can read an overview here.

Today’s assignment is to spend some time on a successful blog in your niche.  That sounds easy enough.  But I think this is a lesson and assignment many bloggers are going to have a difficult time with for several reasons.

1) Some bloggers don’t know their niche. For some the issue is similar to Day 1 where you’re still trying to figure out what you’re blog is about and find focus.  Others of you are probably bristling at the idea that your blog could be in a nitch because you don’t like to be labeled.

1.5 (Added 5 PM) Some bloggers don’t know what blogs are in their niche. If you don’t read other blogs that touch on the same topics you do, you may not know what blogs to analyze.  A couple of places you can search for blogs by topic are Technorati.com and PostRank.com.

2) This sounds like copying. When some of you read the assignment, “Analyze a top blog in your niche” you heard “Watch what the popular people are doing and copy it.”  This assignment is not about mindlessly copying anyone or losing your identity.  While part of the assignment is to learn things you can incorporate into your own blogging.  It’s just as important to identify how you’re blog is unique and how you’re going to differentiate yourself from other the blogs in your niche.

3) Golden nuggets are easy to miss. Chances are you’ve been to the top blogs in your niche.  You know what they look like.  You know what they write about.  It’s going to be real easy to skim over this assignment and not find anything meaningful.  When panning for gold, first you’ve got to dig, and second you’ve got to look real carefully to avoid missing the valuable nuggets.

Today’s lesson identifies some good elements to observe on other blogs – topics covered, posting frequency, which topics/posts are most popular, things you like & dislike about the design, etc.  Here are some additional suggestions…

  • What modules does the blog have in the sidebar(s)?
  • Specifically, what features does it have to facilitate sharing and social networking?
  • Read the comments.  When people say they like a particular post, what specifically do they like about it?

Discussion

  1. What is your niche?
  2. What site(s) did you analyze?
  3. What did you notice about them that you  may want to incorporate into your blog?
  4. How is your blog unique?  How are you going to differentiate it from the rest of the pack?

Don’t forget, if you’ve posted a new post to your blog today, you’re welcome to include a link to it in your comments.

The Extra Mile

A few other things you can do to take your blog, other bloggers, and this project even further today…

  • Reply & give other bloggers feedback on their analysis.
  • When other bloggers include a link to a new article they’ve posted today, click, read, and comment on it.
  • Check previous posts in the series for new comments.
  • Tweet, share, & bookmark this post.  (You could win a $25 gift card!)

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    About the author

    Paul Steinbrueck

    Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck.

    163 Comments

      • Added a thought about the tag cloud – for the benefit of others though I don't think a 'tag cloud' has any impact on your blogs viewability or discoverability. It is simply a means to graphically display your tags – which are taken in to account.

        Maybe someone with more SEO knowledge than I can comment.

        • A lot of blogs have a list of categories in the side bar (we do here), which allows people who have an interest in a specific category to find all the posts in that category. A tag cloud does essentially the same thing except with tags. And I think there are a couple of other benefits.

          1) Because it displays the tags you use most in the biggest fonts, it provides an easy visual way for visitors to quickly figure out what your blog is all about.

          2) It looks a lot cooler & takes up less space than a category list.

          • Perhaps I was mistaken but I thought a tag cloud was JUST a grahical presentation of your tags (as inhttp://www.churchtechy.com/vision/) – in and of itself it has no SEO value, but the tags themselves do and they still need to be manually crafted – whereas thetag cloud is created from your tags. Or is there now a plugin that creates a live tag cloud?

            • Stuart, based on your example, I think you're right. I was thinking the tags in the tag cloud were clickable, but I guess not. There are WP plugins to generate a tag cloud. And I agree there is some SEO value in the tags themselves. They should help your site rank a little higher for keywords that include the tags, each post should rank a little higher for keywords that include the tags for that page, and then the tags pages themselves (eghttps://blog.ourchurch.com/tag/31dbbb/ ) will get indexed.

    • I'm just curious, how has everyone gone about finding the top blogs in their niche? Has it been by simply searching a popular name? Have you simply been reading that particular blog for awhile? Word of mouth? Or is there a better way to find who is really a top blogger?
      I started with a search on Technorati.com for running and fitness blogs, but wasn't real excited with what I found.
      The next option was to look at blogs that I have already been reading in the area and see who they link to in their blogrolls.
      Any other suggestions for find great blogs?

    • Ouch.. this one is hard.. My personal blog isn't really in a niche yet.. It's just in its' infancy and hasn't taken on any characteristics yet. I suppose it will be to create my own personal brand and attempt to make some money from the site.

      My business niche is auto transport. Some of my competitors do blogs and I read them for ideas on what to post (confession time). But none of them have any following. They are simply doing it for the keywords and to create links and more pages on their sites. There is no conversation going on within those blogs. And most of them are using an automated service that is pulling RSS feeds to fill their blog, and website, with posts. I do that as well on a few of my lesser blogs just for the linkbait (confession)…

      So not sure how I'll approach this today.. Does make me think I need to launch a separate blog with relevant information about the car shipping business.. I have the domain, just haven't gotten off my butt to do it.. Gary Vaynerchuk would be disappointed in me!

    • Ouch.. this one is hard.. My personal blog isn't really in a niche yet.. It's just in its' infancy and hasn't taken on any characteristics yet. I suppose it will be to create my own personal brand and attempt to make some money from the site.

      My business niche is auto transport. Some of my competitors do blogs and I read them for ideas on what to post (confession time). But none of them have any following. They are simply doing it for the keywords and to create links and more pages on their sites. There is no conversation going on within those blogs. And most of them are using an automated service that is pulling RSS feeds to fill their blog, and website, with posts. I do that as well on a few of my lesser blogs just for the linkbait (confession)…

      So not sure how I'll approach this today.. Does make me think I need to launch a separate blog with relevant information about the car shipping business.. I have the domain, just haven't gotten off my butt to do it.. Gary Vaynerchuk would be disappointed in me!

      • Hi Scott – it's interesting you mention monetising a blog as I think that puts an entirely different spin on a blog. It becomes necessary for it to make money rather than it be about its original audience.

        I've resisted wanting to monetise the blog – not that I've had too any opportunities come my way. Then after I blogged about "We don't do adverts" I get an offer to place a reciprocal text only link. Turns out the other end couldn't do that but instead offered to pay me according to my pagerank. Well I'm a measly 2 🙂 so no tmuch there then but it pays for my hosting and I just think – thank you God.

        I've not really changed my attitude on advertising though.

        • I think every blog should have some sort of way on it to make you, the blogger, some money. Google Adsense, affiliate sites and etc. Now if your blog is a counseling blog or a church blog then you probably won't want to monetize it. But If you look at every major blogger out there they have ads on their page. That if you go and click on them and sign up they get paid something. Affiliate marketing is huge in blogs.. It's probably what most blogs are in my opinion.

          I think the opportunities are there and one should capitalize on them. There is nothing wrong with making money from your efforts.

          I have multiple blog sites up that all they day is autopost blogs and articles to them, tweet them to a twitter account and gets hits. I don't generate alot of money from them, but if someone clicks on the google ads I get paid. And if someone signs up or buys a product I get paid. They aren't blogs that I write anything, but they are blogs as they allow comments and are on the wordpress platform…

          • I guess it comes down to a personl opinion on whether or not one monetises their blog.

            The point I was badly trying to make is that I believe that monetising it does make a difference in your mindset and consequently could detract from the original mission / vision of the blog.

    • Well, I'm posting for Day 3 here because I wanted to write a post yesterday. By the time, I finished everything, I knew it would be too late to get any feedback. So, I'm posting Day 3 and later will post Day 4.
      I sent individual messages to groups of friends on Facebook and sent out a group email. I'll say this went out to probably close to 50 people all together. So far, I have gotten 2 responses–one only posted to my FB message site. The other one left a post on my blog. I need help. I have a hard time drawing people in to read my blog. I've posted it on my facebook page in general, and friends will just leave comments on the pictures on FB. I don't know how to do Twitter, and I don't know how to add the share button to my blog so that it can go out to different media.
      As I posted late last night, I'm still holding out hope for more comments. Here is the blog post. However, I should let you know, this post is much longer than I normally write. You might want to look at others as well.
      Looking forward to your comments:
      http://openmyearslord.blogspot.com/2010/5/submiss

      Thank you,
      Janis