2020 Reading Stats and 2021 Goals

January 1, 2021

Happy New Year Book Worms!

2020 Reading Stats and 2021 Goals

Reflection: 2020 Reading and 2021 Goals (an open journal, a pen, a book, and a candle)

Image Source: Canva

Brace yourself for a nerdy post, bookaholics!

Have you ever set a reading goal or considered a reading challenge?

Reading in 2020

I’d love to hear from you if you analyze reading data at year’s end. Although I’ve always been analytical, I think my appreciation for using data to plan was heightened during my tenure as a teacher when I poured over student data to inform my teaching. Now, instead of looking at student achievement, I’m paying attention to my own numbers as it relates to reading achievement. I realize that while numbers are not that important in a rewarding reading life, they do reveal some trends and inform future reading choices. It’s important to me that I’m reading diversely, supporting women authors, and increasing my nonfiction percentage. While this post about the numbers is mostly a self-reflection, I hope you find it interesting and possibly motivating toward considering your own reading achievement during the past year and setting some goals for 2020.

If you’ve read ONE book this year, you’re a reader and I encourage you to celebrate that read and accomplishment!

Blog Feedback

I’d also like to know (in comments) what you’d like to see more of or less of on the blog for 2021. Has the variety thhasis year been satisfactory for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts! In fact, I may put together a survey in January.

2020 has been a challenging year, but I’m also so grateful for good books and good bookish conversation! Thank you to each of my followers and visitors! Thanks for the views, comments, and shares! I appreciate EACH one!
giphy

Best of 2020

See this post for a list of my most memorable reads in 2020.



Let’s Talk Numbers!

Total Books Read: 131

Remember….it’s really not about the numbers! It’s about the enjoyment of reading.

This is the highest number of books I’ve read since starting a book review blog and retiring….I averaged 25-30 books a year when I was teaching full time and the majority of those were read during the summer. For me in this season of life, 100 books is a comfortable number. I average two books per week and the weeks when I can only read one dense nonfiction or a 500+ page fiction are balanced out later when I can read 3 lighter, shorter books in one week.

Goodreads Challenge graphic



Books Abandoned (DNF): 7

I’m getting better at knowing my reading tastes and passing on books/genres that I know won’t be to my taste. I’m also not reluctant to abandon books that aren’t working for me. There are too many great books waiting to be read to make myself finish something that isn’t right for me at the time. Are you a fearless abandoner or a committed finisher



Women Authors: 120!

WOW! One of my goals in starting this blog is to support women authors writing about strong women and I feel like I’ve had success in this area. We’ve certainly come a long way since the days when women had to publish under a man’s name!



Diverse Reads: 16

For this number, I counted the books that take place in a culture other than my own, whose characters are ethnically different from me, and whose author is an author of color. It was my focus this year to intentionally read and promote authors of color. I have read other books in a broader sense of diversity, and it’s always my goal to read more diversely.

Library Books:

One stat I wanted to specifically track this year is the percentage of books I read that are from the library.

Library = 66 (50%)
ARC = 36 (27%)
Own = 29 (22%)

I feel great that half the books I read are from the library! Between library books and ARCs, 77% of my books are free! Great kindle deals help me buy books to own.



Fiction: (Broken Down by Sub-Genre): 113

The sub-genres add up to a bit more than 113 because a few books fall into more than one category.

Historical Fiction: 36
This is obviously a favorite sub-genre!

Literary Fiction: 4
This is a category that brings about some debate among readers….the most simple definition is that literary fiction is not genre fiction. Also, it’s known as literature written to explore the meaning of life and its issues….for example, most prestigious award recipients and national prize winners are categorized as literary fiction.

Women’s Fiction: 40
Wow! This is the first time I’ve ever read this much “women’s fiction”! There were months when these books were a balm to my pandemic brain! Again, a reader’s definition may vary….for me they are books in which most characters are women and the plot centers around women’s concerns and issues….some in this category are lighter reads that readers refer to as “beach reads” or “vacation reads.”

Mystery/Thriller/Suspense: 9
Clearly, I don’t read too much in this category because real life is scary enough….mainly, the books I read in this category are best sellers that I want to form my own opinion about. However, one of my favorite mystery series that I’ve deemed “just right” is the Inspector Armand Gamache Series by Louise Penny which is set in Three Pines.

Issue Centered: 11
The main purpose of these stories is to focus on a social or health issue. I usually enjoy these books unless they are heavily agenda driven by the author.

Middle Grade: 16
I love a great Middle Grade read! There’s some enjoyable and engaging literature in this category for adults!

Young Adult: 7
A satisfactory number for me this year.



Nonfiction (broken down into sub-genres): 18

This is a definite area for improvement for me in 2021 (although it’s 5 more than last year!) ! My goal is to have a 20% nonfiction percentage.

Memoir: 10
Memoir is a favorite form of nonfiction.

Biography: 1

Narrative Nonfiction: 0
Nonfiction written in story format.

Essay: 6

True Crime: 1
I started another one but it was a DNF after I had a bad dream! Not my fav genre!



Let’s Consider 2020 Goals and New 2021 Goals

Here are my reading goals for 2021 (please share yours in comments):
(for blog recap and goals, see this post)

Goal 1:

Goodreads Reading Challenge (determine how many books you’d like to read and track them through the Goodreads app). This is the easiest of the goals/challenges as it simply involves setting a number. This number can be adjusted throughout the year if you are reading above or below your goal. I recommend setting a reasonable goal and then raising it if necessary. My goal is 100 books. I met this goal in 2018, 2019, and 2020, and it’s reasonable that I will meet it again. Retirement and pandemic isolation help tremendously! The 2021 Goodreads challenge will be available at the first of the year. Are we friends on Goodreads?

Goodreads Challenge graphic

Goal 2:

Modern Mrs. Darcy 2020 Reading Challenge (very broad, doable categories that might provide some stretch in your reading life). With the number of books I read, this goal is fairly easy for me to achieve. It doesn’t require a sign up (unless you want to receive emails from the site). She has changed the structure of the challenge this year and I may not participate or I may use this one again for 2021. Here are the results from the 2020 challenge:

  1. A book I missed reading when I was younger (I changed this from a book published in the decade I was born because I couldn’t find one to interest me): A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; Bloomability
  2. A debut novel: The Girl With the Louding Voice
  3. A book recommended by a source you trust: Writers & Lovers
  4. A book by a local author: Lovely War
  5. A book outside your (genre) comfort zone (graphic novels): Hey Kiddo; Roller Girl
  6. A book in translation: Anxious People
  7. A book nominated for an award in 2020: Hamnet (Women’s Prize for Fiction winner); The Girl With the Louding Voice (shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize)
  8. A re-read: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (I loved it even more the second time!)
  9. A classic you didn’t read in school: The Bell Jar (modern classic); A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  10. Three Books by the same author: Big Lies in a Small Town, The Silent Sister, and Necessary Lies all by Diane Chamberlain; the Harbor series (4 books) by Sheila Roberts

Goal 3:

Participate in other challenges such as:

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge (especially great for bloggers and reviewers who want monthly link-up opportunities)….My Goal: read twenty-five histfic books. ***I read 36 books so I met my goal!

NetGalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge (link-up opportunities for members of NetGalley and Edelweiss)..My Goal: read and review 10 Netgalley books (ARCs) ***I read 36 ARCs, so I exceeded this goal!

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge…My Goal: read three nonfiction books from any category. Here are the categories and what I read:

  1. Memoir: Born a Crime
  2. Disaster Event: The Only Plane in the Sky
  3. Social Science: Between Inca Walls
  4. Related to an Occupation: Rust
  5. History: Caste
  6. Feminism: She Come By It Natural
  7. Psychology: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone
  8. Medical Issue: The Choice (PTSD)
  9. Nature: The Salt Path
  10. True Crime:
  11. Science:
  12. Published in 2020: Don’t Overthink It

***I almost read in every category! Many of the titles above can be considered Memoir and some were Published in 2020….so if I arrange these differently, I think I’ve read at least three in each of those categories. Shelley @ Book’d Out has created a Nonfiction Challenge for 2021 which I will participate in because of my goal to read 20% nonfiction.

Blog Audit Challenge: In January last year, I decided to participate in Jo Linsdell’s challenge in order to push myself to work on my blog. It was a great year of reflection and practical steps. My monthly posts here:

January Blog Audit Challenge–Mission Statement/Strengths & Weaknesses/Content Schedule
February Blog Audit Challenge–Information Pages
March Blog Audit Challenge–The Trimmings
April Blog Audit Challenge–Design
May Blog Audit Challenge–SEO
June Blog Audit Challenge–Links
July Blog Audit Challenge–Quality Content
August Blog Audit Challenge–Content Gap
September Blog Audit Challenge–Develop Readership
October Blog Audit Challenge–Social Networking
November Blog Audit Challenge–Media Kits and Collaboration
December Blog Audit Challenge–Stats

Jo Linsdell is offering a new blog challenge for 2021. I’m thinking about it!

Goal 4:

Based on my 2020 reading, I know I want to increase my nonfiction reading percentage. Out of 131 books read, 13 were nonfiction (14%). My goal for 2021 is to increase that to 20%.



What reading goals do you have for 2021?

goal make things happen



Happy New Year! I hope you’ve experienced some pleasurable and challenging reading in 2020 and are eagerly anticipating the reading year ahead!

Good Riddance 2020!



QOTD:

Did you meet your reading goal for 2020?

What is your 2021 Reading Goal?

Do you use a method for tracking your reads during the year?

Have you considered your best read of the year? (see my most memorable reads in this post)



Happy Reading Book Worms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



In Movie News….

Did you see News of the World in the theater this week? Because of the pandemic, all our theaters are closed here. I’ll need to wait until it is streamed somewhere. It’s difficult to wait, though, because it’s my most anticipated movie (book to film adaptation) of the year!



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
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Goodreads
Pinterest



ICYMI

Winter 2020/2021 TBR



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© WWW.ReadingLadies.com

Blog Audit Challenge 2020: December #blogauditchallenge2020

December 30, 2020

December’s Blog Audit Challenge 2020

Blog Audit Challenge 2020 (picture of a woman's hands on the keyboard of a laptop)Blogging Friends,

This year I’m participating in Blog Audit Challenge 2020 hosted by Jo Linsdell. The plan is to work on making our blogs even better and setting our goals for the coming months. Each month will have its own challenge to work through. This is the last month of the challenge.

 I hope that if you are reading this that you continue to be well and that your area is opening up for business and recreation with social distancing precautions. Our area is back to increased lockdowns due to an increase in COVOD-19 cases. Hoping the vaccine will soon turn things around. Stay safe and mask up, blogging buddies!

December’s Challenge Focus: Know Your Stats

What a year this has been!

I’m thankful for my blog which kept me engaged and productive during the most difficult lockdown periods (which we’re in again here).

This is my 479th post! THANK YOU to each one who has followed my blog! I’m grateful for EACH visit, view, comment, and share. It’s a joy to share books and the reading life with you!

giphy

I hope you’ve enjoyed this year-long Blog Audit Challenge series! I’m doing something in this post that I do every month and every year’s end…analyze stats!

Are you a stats nerd like me? As a teacher, I grew dependent on stats (assessments) to inform my teaching, and that habit has carried over into blogging.

Each blogger is on her or his own journey in blogging and some may look at these stats and think mine are paltry while others might be amazed or even jealous. I always hesitate to share stats because I DO NOT want to promote any bad feelings or look like a clueless amateur. I simply share my stats in hopes that it will give you an authentic look at someone’s newish blog (3 1/2 years) and give you a realistic picture of what a blogger can accomplish in that time with a substantial amount of consistent effort. I work hard at writing content and promotion, so that is reflective in my stats.

1

Check Analytics

So far, I’ve only used the WordPress tools to check my blog stats. One of my blogging goals next year is to activate Google Analytics for a more in-depth look. How do you determine success? When I first started blogging, I relied heavily on page views to rate my success. Currently, I look at the number of comments (engagement) to evaluate success. So even though views are progressing nicely, I am especially interested in the number of comments which demonstrate that followers are reading and engaging with my content. After three plus years, I can finally compare year-to-year progress, so below you will see my stats for three years:

2018 (first full year of blogging)
* Views: 13,652
* First Time Visitors: 7,696
* Comments: 605

2019
* Views: 60,910
* First Time Visitors: 35.5k
* Comments: 2,044

2020
* Views: 118.3k
* First Time Visitors: 73.1k
* Comments: 3,422

I think the jump from 2018 to 2019 can be attributed to an increase in more posts per week, participating in more memes (such as Top Ten Tuesday), consistent social promotion, and more discussion posts. Over the 3 1/2 years, my total views  = 196.2k; total visitors = 118.4k; and my best daily view record = 852.

Other interesting stats include:

* Search Terms: One of the most important stats to look at in my opinion! Why or how do people end up on your blog? Overwhelmingly, “book recommendations” in some form are among my highest search terms. Other popular search terms include “book club discussion questions,” other “book club” related searches, a specific “book title,”and  “summary” or “synopsis.” I look at Search Terms every week! First, it’s interesting and Second, they can inspire a post (for example, one search term was “light histfic for women”….I can create a post about that!). Third, these Search Terms can be added to your future blog posts: for instance, I try to remember to include the word “book club” somewhere in my content as it’s one of my highest search terms!

* Average Word Count (important for SEO): my average word count for 2020 is 845 (my shorter meme posts bring down this average). I think my word count is in the acceptable range especially since many of my posts have higher word counts.

* Most Viewed Posts: It’s also informative to look at your most viewed posts. In 2017 (blogged for 6 months): 2017 Really Recommendable Reads (views); in 2018 Where the Crawdads Sing (495 views); in 2019 Where the Crawdads Sing (7,777 views)….I’m certainly happy I read and reviewed that book!); in 2020 The Book of Lost Friends (7, 447 views). My conclusion is that although a discussion post or memes are great for entertainment and variety, my book reviews and book recommendation posts still receive more views. Is this true for you, too? Which post of yours has received the most views?

* Referrers: In 2020 my top referrers are: Search Engines: 62.8k; WordPress Reader: 5,480k; Pinterest: 2,517; Instagram: 897; Twitter: 911; Facebook: 802 (Thus my opinion: it’s beneficial to promote across all platforms! Every view counts!)

* Domain Authority (DA): This is something I look at once a month for free at the MOZ Domain Analysis site. DA is a search engine ranking score that predicts a website’s ability to rank on search engine results pages. The score is from 0-100: 25 is an acceptable score for small bloggers, 40-50 is considered average, 50-60 is good, and over 60 is excellent. To give you an idea, Modern Mrs. Darcy has a domain score of 54 and she’s a HUGE blogging success. I’m not trying to compete with her. If you’re curious, you can type any website into the domain checker and find our their DA! Amazon’s is 96! Our host, Jo Linsdell’s, is 30! Congrats Jo! The free domain checker gives you a certain number of opportunities for free each month. Why do I care about DA? Well, once on Twitter, a blogger was asking for bloggers for a collaboration or a guest post or something….she indicated that she was looking for bloggers with a DA of 20 something (I can’t remember the exact number now. But it sent me down a rabbit hole to find out about DA and if I had it and what my score was. My first DA score was a dismal 13 …. then it went from 16 to 18 to 21 to 23 to 25 (yay!) down to 22 (what?!), up to 23, and currently 22 (again). I have no idea about the algorithms of DA but I do know that SEO is part of it in some way.  In my investigation into DA I have discovered these contributing factors:

  • Quality Content
  • SEO best practices
  • Internal Linking (you want to reduce your bounce rate and encourage readers to stay on your blog and look around)…for example, I linked to my May Blog Audit Challenge on SEO above.
  • High Quality External Links (remove broken links…I update one old post per week and I’m surprised by the number of broken links I find!)
  • (Increase) Publishing Frequency
  • Friendly Website (speed, headings, structure, mobile friendly, etc)
  • A Domain Name That Describes Your Niche
  • Social Promotion

If you are a NEW blogger and feel overwhelmed by this information, choose one thing to focus on this month or next year! It’s taken me 3 1/2 years to work on these items and I still have a list of areas that I need to improve or implement!

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Blog Audit Challenge 2020: November #blogauditchallenge2020

November 28, 2020

November’s Blog Audit Challenge 2020

Blog Audit Challenge 2020 (picture of a woman's hands on the keyboard of a laptop)Blogging Friends,

This year I’m participating in Blog Audit Challenge 2020 hosted by Jo Linsdell. The plan is to work on making our blogs even better and setting our goals for the coming months. Each month will have its own challenge to work through. Join us!

 I hope that if you are reading this that you continue to be well and that your area is opening up for business and recreation with social distancing precautions. Our area is back to increased lockdowns due to an increase in COVOD-19 cases. Hoping the vaccine will soon turn things around. Stay safe and mask up, blogging buddies!

November’s Challenge Focus: Press and Collaborations

Over the last few months, the challenges have allowed me to improve content, design, and readership. Now let’s discuss Media Kits and Collaboration.

Honestly, the first part of this challenge is not entirely applicable to my blog, so I’ll briefly present the idea. I have more to say about the second part of the challenge!

1

Media Kit

Because I have a book review blog, I don’t really have or need a traditional media kit and press page as explained and modeled by our host, Jo Linsdell. Maybe if I were an author I would need a Media Kit/Press Page, and I would definitely need one if I were a business. I guess I have my own version of a Media Kit: I have an About Page (which includes a mission statement), a Policy/Disclosure Page, and a Contact Page. Perhaps I need to combine them? I do tweak these pages occasionally. Because I’m not selling anything, I’ve decided to skip the official Media Kit/Press Page for now….maybe I’ll come back to this concept later. If you have input or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

***EDIT***

I’m adding an editing note here to share  Jo Linsdell’s (host of the Blogging Challenge) comment on this post:

“A Media Kit is useful for book reviewers too as it allows you to showcase your blog and social media stats, and let publishers/authors know what genres you review. It also looks professional when requesting ARCs or other review copes.”

Thanks for commenting Jo!

I can definitely make my information look more professional! I think what I need to consider is the following 1.) my Media Kit content is spread over three pages! I can consolidate all that info into one professional looking page following Jo’s model (I would like to find a book reviewer who has a professional-looking Media Kit). 2.) The only thing I do not have listed on the blog is my actual stats (although my hit count is listed at the bottom of the sidebar). Most of my contact with publishers is through NetGalley (where I have listed all my stats in my bio). Since I’m not a money-making business, I’m not sure I need to include blog stats on my blog. 3.) If I were reviewing as a business, I think a Media Kit might be helpful! Right now, blogging is a hobby and I’m getting more review requests than I can handle.

A Media Kit is definitely needed for bloggers who are running a business or want to attract sponsors. It’s something I need to consider in my future updating ventures!

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Blog Audit Challenge 2020: October #blogauditchallenge2020

October 30, 2020

October’s Blog Audit Challenge 2020

Blog Audit Challenge 2020 (picture of a woman's hands on the keyboard of a laptop)Blogging Friends,

This year I’m participating in Blog Audit Challenge 2020 hosted by Jo Linsdell. The plan is to work on making our blogs even better and setting our goals for the coming months. Each month will have its own challenge to work through. Join us!

 I hope that if you are reading this that you continue to be well and that your area is opening up for business and recreation with social distancing precautions. Our county is off the state’s watch list due to a decrease in COVOD-19 cases. Hoping we can stay that way! Stay safe, blogging buddies!

October’s Challenge Focus: Social Networking

How do you participate in Social Networking?

Over the last few months, the challenges have allowed me to improve content, design, and readership. Now let’s discuss Social Networking as another aspect of developing readership and increasing your blog traffic.

Honestly, promoting myself is an area in which I feel the least amount of comfort or confidence. It took me about a year to connect social networks to my blog. In retrospect, I’m sorry that I didn’t have social networking in place from Day One. I wasted a lot of time!

Our host for this challenge has suggestions for Social Networking that I’ll discuss here. What I also share here is my personal strategy which is a work in progress and will not look like your process. However, I think it’s interesting for bloggers to get a behind-the-scenes peek. I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Social Networking To Increase Blog Traffic:

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Blog Audit Challenge 2020: September #blogauditchallenge2020

September 29, 2020

September’s Blog Audit Challenge 2020

Blog Audit Challenge 2020 (picture of a woman's hands on the keyboard of a laptop)Blogging Friends,

This year I’m participating in Blog Audit Challenge 2020 hosted by Jo Linsdell. The plan is to work on making our blogs even better and setting our goals for the coming months. Each month will have its own challenge to work through. Join us!

 I hope that if you are reading this that you continue to be well and that your area is opening up for business and recreation with social distancing precautions. Our county is off the state’s watch list due to a decrease in COVOD-19 cases. Hoping we can stay that way! Stay safe, blogging buddies!

September’s Challenge Focus: Developing Readership

Which is more important to develop readership, views or comments?

Over the last few months, the challenges have allowed me to improve content and design.

We looked at content gaps in August and now September’s challenge will focus on Developing Readership. We see our visitor and follower stats, but how do we know who is reading and engaging with our content? Is there a way to develop readership?

Our host for this challenge, suggests that comments help develop readership.

In my early days of blogging, I gradually grew braver in my ability to comment on the blogs I follow. I found that it started a conversation that was continued on my own blog as they reciprocated and commented on my blog. Gradually, I found blogs that I had a great deal in common with: 1. open to conversation, 2. enjoyment of similar genres, 3. perhaps in the same life stage/age group, 4. taking the connection one step further to share a post on Twitter, and 5. linking to each other’s content.

Commenting is one of the most practical ways to support your favorite blogger! Every comment brings me joy and is a tried and true strategy for developing readership and increasing engagement!

1. Optimize Comment System

  • In order for this to work, commenting needs to be easy. I’ve certainly experienced frustration in trying to comment on a blog post and it just won’t work for some reason. Commenting as a WordPress blogger on another WordPress blog is certainly the easiest. Although there is one WordPress blog I follow that I cannot comment on when I try and comment from the email notification. The comment appears to go through but it never shows up on her end. But when I comment from the WordPress Reader, my comment always goes through. I had about given up when I stumbled on the solution of using the WordPress Reader rather than my email for the point of origin.
  • Other times, I will enter all the required information to comment and the processing icon spins and spins and never seems to go through.
  • Sometimes, the blog will require you to sign in using FB, Twitter, or Google.
  • My tip for bloggers is to keep the commenting process as simple as possible! However, how do we know what the commenting process is like on our own blogs? Maybe an idea would be to set up a group of  ten random friends to make a comment on your blog and report back on the process.
  • If you have difficulty commenting on my blog, would you let me know?

2. Reply to All Comments

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Blog Audit Challenge 2020: August #blogauditchallenge2020

August 30, 2020

August’s Blog Audit Challenge 2020

Blog Audit Challenge 2020 (picture of a woman's hands on the keyboard of a laptop)Blogging Friends,

This year I’m participating in Blog Audit Challenge 2020 hosted by Jo Linsdell. The plan is to work on making our blogs even better and setting our goals for the coming months. Each month will have its own challenge to work through. Join us!

 I hope that if you are reading this that you continue to be well and that your area is opening up for business and recreation with social distancing precautions. Our county is off the state’s watch list due to a decrease in COVOD-19 cases. Hoping we can stay that way! Stay safe, book buddies!

August’s Challenge Focus: Content Gap

Over the last few months, the challenges have allowed me to improve content.

We’ve looked at quality content and now August’s challenge will focus on the gap of information that might need to be filled. Do visitors find the information they expect to find when they land on your blog? Have you thought about your content gaps?

1. Analyze your current content and look for content gaps.

  • I have always enjoyed looking at “Insights” and noticing under “Search Terms”  how visitors have landed on my page. Many search terms already match my content: visitors are looking for summaries, reviews, and certain book titles.
  • One search always draws my attention, and that is the search relating to book clubs: book club suggestions or book club questions.
  • I’ve addressed one part of this search by creating a Book Club Recommendations menu tab. Visitors can find my recommendations organized loosely by genre and star ratings.
  • One content gap I can work on is adding a paragraph to my review that directly addresses book clubs or offers one or more discussion topics for book clubs. I have already done that in a couple of reviews like Deal of a Lifetime for example. For the rest of the year, I want to work on including specific content for bookclubs in each of my reviews. Is this something you would find interesting?

2. Visit other blogs to see what they offer that I don’t.

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Blog Audit Challenge 2020: July #blogauditchallenge2020

July 29, 2020

July’s Blog Audit Challenge 2020

Blog Audit Challenge 2020 (picture of a woman's hands on the keyboard of a laptop)Blogging Friends,

This year I’m participating in Blog Audit Challenge 2020 hosted by Jo Linsdell. The plan is to work on making our blogs even better and setting our goals for the coming months. Each month will have its own challenge to work through. Join us!

 I hope that if you are reading this that you continue to be well and that your area is opening up for business and recreation with social distancing precautions. Our area is mostly locked down again because of a surge in COVOD-19 cases. Stay safe, book buddies!

 

July’s Challenge Focus: Quality Content

Over the last few months, the challenges have allowed me to improve content.

Design, SEO, and Links all contribute toward quality content. For July’s challenge, the focus is on the information that is provided.

1. Determine whether your older posts meet your current standards.

WOW! This is a huge, HUGE task! Obviously, I’m doing things differently in my third year of blogging than I did in my first year. Starting in January, I’ve been systematically returning to old posts and updating them. Here’s the checklist I created:

  • Read through content:
    • In three years, I have developed kinder ways of writing negative reviews!
    • Does the format of my review reflect the format I use today?
    • Can I add more content (text or links) or delete extraneous content?
    • Can I remove outdated or irrelevant content?
  • Check all links.
  • Run the content through Grammarly. I was not using Grammarly the first year of blogging and I have found several errors by using it to update old content.
  • Check categories and tags.
  • Fill out the Twitter share section (shockingly, I was not sharing my posts to Twitter in the first year).
  • Fill out the Excerpt section (I was not doing this in the beginning either).
  • Create a Pinterest graphic for the post (yup, I didn’t use Pinterest the first year either) and make it my Featured Image. (I also share this updated post to Pinterest with the Pinterest worthy image.)
  • Check the size of all my pictures and add Alt Text.
  • Change the size of Headings and Subheadings to match today’s format. (one thing I was doing was using H4 for less significant headings and I read that it’s best to simply bold the text and not use H4)
  • When updating, DO NOT change the original URL! Sometimes I feel like a title change is needed and I have to live with the original URL if I make a change.

Sometimes I feel as if I’ve created an entirely new post! However, this investment of time is worth it because my DA has jumped several points since January! SEO rewards updating.

Yes, it is tedious to update old content. I set a schedule and update one to two posts per week. It will take me a while, but it will be worth it. I created a spreadsheet where I can track my updating project. I made columns for my checklist and also one for ‘reshare.’ That way I know exactly where I left off, which posts have had the ‘treatment’ and which have not, and which posts have been reshared. I’ve linked the older posts (reviews) to my #throwbackthursday posts. So, I’m accomplishing two objectives: updating an old post and creating new content. This provides extra motivation.

I have read that it’s not good to delete a post. (it messes with Google in some way) I’ve been tempted! I simply fix it up the best I can, rewrite parts of it, and leave it be.

Remember to reshare the updated evergreen content posts that you’ve worked hard to update!

2. Check for errors.

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Blog Audit Challenge 2020: June #blogauditchallenge2020

June 29, 2020

June’s Blog Audit Challenge 2020

Blog Audit Challenge 2020 (picture of a woman's hands on the keyboard of a laptop)Blogging Friends,

This year I’m participating in Blog Audit Challenge 2020 hosted by Jo Linsdell. The plan is to work on making our blogs even better and setting our goals for the coming months. Each month will have its own challenge to work through. Join us!

 I hope that if you are reading this that you continue to be well and that your area is opening up for business and recreation with social distancing precautions.

 

June’s Challenge Focuses on Links:

Of the topics covered so far, I think I feel the best about my use of links to enhance my content and to attract visitors. At least, I feel more confidant in discussing links than I have previous topics! I can always improve, but I think I’m doing OK in this area.

There are two types of links:

1. Internal Links

  • The importance of using internal links is to keep visitors engaged with your content and spend more time on your site. Part of analyzing your blog data is tracking the “bounce rate,” i.e. the time visitors spend on your site. If a visitor only reads the page which caused them to land on your site, this contributes to a high “bounce rate.” If a follower or visitor looks at another page on your site (either through a link, a menu tab, or the search bar, etc., this helps to lower your “bounce rate.” Low “bounce rates” are optimal and increase your SEO! (see what I did here?!)
  • In my posts, you will usually notice internal links. When appropriate, I will link to related content (e.g. a book by the same author or a post with a similar topic) and I also include links to previous content in my ICYMI section. In my menu options, I have included pages with links to a great deal of blog content. In these monthly blog challenge posts, I am linking back to each previous month.
  • TIP: I have recently learned that SEO best practices suggests not using “see here” when creating links. SEO likes it when you use specific descriptive words. So instead of “see review here,” it would be better to write “see my review of Simon the Fiddler.” In my monthly wrap up posts, I have been writing “my full review here” (which you can see in my May Wrap Up post)….starting tomorrow, I vow to do better in creating internal links with more specific descriptive wording for my wrap up post!

2. External Links

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Blog Audit Challenge 2020: May #blogauditchallenge2020

May 30, 2020

May’s Blog Audit Challenge 2020

Blog Audit Challenge 2020 (picture of a woman's hands on the keyboard of a laptop)Blogging Friends,

This year I’m participating in Blog Audit Challenge 2020 hosted by Jo Linsdell. The plan is to work on making our blogs even better and setting our goals for the coming months. Each month will have its own challenge to work through. Join us!

 I hope that if you are reading this that you continue to be well and that your area is starting to open up for business with social distancing precautions.

May’s Challenge focuses on Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

SEO is something I continue to work on, and I find it becomes more routine over time. Keywords are a critical component of SEO.

1. Key Words in Headlines

  • Key words are the words that individuals put in the search bar to search for content.
  • Key words are the most important component of SEO.
  • Identifying key words is a critical first step in creating content. Think about what people would search for in order to find your content. Various apps are available to help you find optimal key words. I have never used this option, so I  can’t offer a recommendation. A search on Pinterest will result in more articles than you could ever use on SEO and Key Words.
  • Reviewing books makes the selection of key words easier because the book title in my heading is also my key word(s).
  • In addition to showing up in the title of the post, key words need to appear (naturally) throughout the content of the post. At first, it was easy to include my key word(s) in my post title but I had to make a conscious effort to sprinkle the key words throughout the content. So in place of using a term like “this book,” I had to form the habit of replacing these phrases with the book title. Using key words becomes even more effective when you can use them in subheadings.

2. Labels, Tags, and Descriptions

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Blog Audit Challenge 2020: April #blogauditchallenge2020

April 29, 2020

April’s Blog Audit Challenge 2020

Blog Audit Challenge 2020 (picture of a woman's hands on the keyboard of a laptop)Blogging Friends,

This year I’m participating in a Blog Audit Challenge 2020 hosted by Jo Linsdell. The plan is to work on making our blogs even better and setting our goals for the coming months. Each month will have its own challenge to work through. Join us!

Well….April continues to be a bit derailed due to Covid-19! I hope that if you are reading this that you are well.

April found me having difficulty reading books with heavier content and I had a serious case of the “blahs.” How about you? Doing any hard thinking is a discipline these days!

April’s Challenge is to focus on Design:

1. Images

In my first year of blogging, I discovered how important it is to have at least one Pinterest quality image in each blog post. Before that discovery, I simply used a book cover as an image. (I need to note here that I can’t stage photos with books because I read exclusively on the Kindle.) Now I use a book cover image that I grab from Amazon and “enhance” it. First I use the app PhotoGrid to add a background for the book cover. I save this image in PhotoGrid’s already squarish format. Next, I open Canva and use a template I created for Pinterest that has been designed for a square image and that has the Book Title at the top and my blog name at the bottom. I use this template over and over again and switch out the picture, color, and text. Here’s the last Pinterest image I created using PhotoGrid and my Canva Pinterest template:

Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhom (coveer)

In blog posts, I attempt to incorporate other images. For example, in my review of Code Name Helene, I also used a real-life picture of Helene. In addition, I always include an author’s photo.

I have a certificate from a community college in graphic design, so I’m familiar with using images in a layout. The creative use of images is an enjoyable aspect of creating a blog post.

Something new I’m experimenting with this year is using animated GIFs. I think it’s important not to overpower your content with gifs, so I use them sparingly.

As with any new element, there’s a learning curve and I had to experiment multiple times to master the process for using them in a WordPress post.

2. Optimize Images

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