How to Create Content Your Readers Will Love–Even If You’re Not Psychic


After a couple years of blogging, I’m getting slightly better at predicting which of my posts will be the bigger “hits” with you.  But sometimes my predictive powers aren’t… well, let’s just say I haven’t unlocked the “psychic” level yet.

What You Can Learn From Your Most Popular Posts (and the Ones That Flopped)

I’ve learned to rely on a couple of very helpful metrics in my statistics to help me “read your mind” and produce better, and more helpful, content for you here on my blog.

Here’s a few things that are worth watching on your blog:

Most Popular Posts Over Time

One surprising trend I spotted in my most popular posts of 2012 is that the majority of them were written in 2010 and 2011!  How’s that for proof that writing evergreen content is worth it?

Looking at what was the most popular this year — and where that traffic came from — shows me what my newsletter and blog subscribers are most interested in, what my search engine traffic is attracted to, and what’s working to draw visitors from social media (each group results in different popular posts and you can see it in your stats if you dig deep enough).

Learn to model and repeat what works for you!

How you can track it: With the free JetPack plugin, you can view most popular posts/pages over different time periods.  Other stats trackers should offer similar capability.

Most Commented Posts

This tells you what topics get your audience excited and fired up to the point that they want to share their thoughts.  It’s valuable because you can see exactly what’s pushing their buttons.

Take time to dissect the posts that get a response.  What was your topic?  What emotions were involved?  What questions did you ask and how did you phrase and format them?  All those little things can be a model for future posts to generate more discussion.

Look for posts where your commenters interacted with each other, too.  Watch the dynamics there and challenge yourself to recreate that.

How you can track it: Try a plugin like WordPress Popular Posts.  Or, if you’re a code ninja you can do it without a plugin (details here).

Most Shared Posts

You might think the “most commented” and “most shared” would be the same posts, but in my experience they aren’t.

As with most commented, take time to look at why the posts got shared.  Look at your titles, your format (top 10 lists? how tos?), and which networks they got shared on the most.

This information will tell you a couple of interesting things about your audience:

  • what they think their circle of influence is interested in (if they share it, they think their friends/connections would like it, right?)
  • how they want to be seen (they’re sharing to be helpful but also to build their own credibility and image)

How you can track it: Check out the Social Metrics plugin.

Most Ignored Posts

Raise your hand if you’ve ever written a post you thought would get a great response, but you got crickets.  *raised hand*  Yes, I have.  (And hey look, I’m still blogging!  Don’t let it get you down when this happens.)

What can you learn from those posts?  So many things!

Look at your content and consider whether it’s a good fit with what you typically share.  Maybe it wasn’t what your readers were expecting or interested in learning from you.  Sometimes unexpected works.  Other times it doesn’t.

Or maybe your content was good but missing those little things that take it from good to WOW.  Review your title, your formatting, all the little pieces that play into how readers perceive content.

How you can track it: I’m betting you already know which posts to look at for this one…

Most Searched for Terms

When I checked my search trends last week I found quite a few readers were searching for “Navigator.”  I haven’t posted a word about that here on my blog… which is a total miss on my part.  Navigator is the coaching program I’m co-leading with Adam Urbanski that kicks off this week.  You’re looking for information about it and that means I need to be sharing more about it!  I will, soon.

Looking at search terms also allows me to see what you expect me to be writing about and what you think I know about.  Very interesting information and inspires quite a few new blog posts ideas for me.

How you can track it: Install the plugin Search Meter if you’re on WordPress.  Other platforms, ask your host how to track this.

Your Turn!

What metrics do you track on your blog?  Or, what metrics are you interested in watching after reading this post?

Are there any particular lessons, trends, or valuable intel you’ve picked up by watching these types of stats on your blog (or the blogs of others)?

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  1. Or maybe, Michelle, your most ignored posts are waiting to be discovered. – because everything we write is brilliant, right? :-D That’s what I like to think. ;-)
    Cathy Miller recently posted… Resuscitate Business Writing’s Throw-Away WordsMy Profile

    1. LOL I suppose that is another possibility, Cathy. :) More promo!

  2. Thank you for this great post. I keep forgetting to actually look at my numbers. What works, what doesn’t work. Right now I’ve been away from blogging for a while, but I’ll make sure to remember your tips when I have a few posts to compare!

    1. Hi Matlida, “welcome back” to blogging. :)

  3. Hi Michelle,
    Great post! I admit to being terrible at tracking, I may well check out the plug in you mentioned.

    I find as I moderate comments, the popular posts get longer comments, and it’s those posts I can use as prompts for new ones – something that ties in very well with my own latest post! The two go together very nicely!

    The Great Gordino recently posted… Here’s How To Reuse Content Already On Your Blog!My Profile

    1. It’s worth installing a plugin or two so it’s easy to track.

      Great point–many interesting blog posts can come from our comments. :)

  4. GREAT stuff. As a newbie in the blogging community its awesome to get insight and suggestions from experienced writers. I appreciate any feed back upon reading my articles and will surely apply all I learn! Thanks for the article!

    1. Hey Jeff, I was just on your site this morning. You were ahead of me in the Ultimate Blog Challenge comment chain and I left a comment for you. :)

  5. I actually did posts on what my most popular search terms were, and what my most popular posts were (based on pageviews) earlier this year!
    Diane recently posted… Scaredy Cut Introduces Improved, Innovative Home Grooming Kits for Dogs and CatsMy Profile

    1. It’s always interesting to see those posts — lots to learn just by paying attention to what’s popular on other blogs, too. ;)

  6. I’m new to the blogging world. Thank you so much for this info!
    Vonnie recently posted… Know More About Me | #BlogBoostMy Profile

    1. You’re welcome, Vonnie. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Excellent post Michelle! Wonderful information for a newbie like myself -:)
    Victoria recently posted… Get Your Hoop OnMy Profile

    1. Hey Victoria, glad this is helpful, thanks for commenting.

  8. I love it when you give us specific resources you use. I’m trying to recall what type images you told me to search for to make those images like the one you have above. The images I’ve made don’t look as good as yours.
    Alyssa recently posted… Overcoming Your Marketing FearsMy Profile

    1. Are you thinking of “isolated” maybe? :) If you add isolated to a search generally it’ll bring up images without backgrounds (or with a solid white/black background).

  9. If you have a specific reason for blogging then you absolutely need to look at your stats. My post on toxic relationships is one of my most visited articles and I’m not a relationship expert. However, it does tie into my goals for helping entrepreneurs with their personal development.

    Your most visited posts and the keywords used to find them can be used for your marketing. The keywords used to find me through Google gave me ideas for blogs posts and a couple of books I’m working on.

    Most of the visitors to my blog come for personal development and once in a blue moon someone lands there for business info or hypnosis. Local people find me through Google for hypnosis. This valuable information led to my decision to build a separate blog for hypnosis and to make personal development the focus of my main blog.

    Thanks for sharing your resources for tracking. I use them all except for word metrics. WordPress popular posts is installed but not activated. I’m doing that today.
    Adalia John recently posted… The Power of DetachmentMy Profile

    1. Interesting, isn’t it, which articles seem to float to the top in most visited and best search traffic? I’m definitely not an Alexa expert but that’s one of mine that gets a lot of search referral traffic.

      Smart strategy to use those keywords to create posts and books. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… One Cool Way to Achieve More of Your GoalsMy Profile

  10. I watch everything I can possibly watch on my blog. lol

    I love strolling through search queries and on past blogs used them all the time to create new content. That always worked out well for me. And I always encouraged readers to e-mail me with suggestions. People responded quite a lot asking me to post about this, that, or what have you and I would do my best to cater to their needs…within reason. Some people were just too bizarre to acknowledge lol.
    Angie Schaffer-von Scheffelheim recently posted… Beloved King Louis, XIMy Profile

    1. That’s a great way to get ideas, Angie. Of course, I’m with you on the “well that’s bizarre…” — sometime I should turn that into a blog post… ;)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 5 Ways You Might Be Driving Your Readers Crazy (Without Realizing It!)My Profile

  11. My “most popular” and most commented posts are always the most controversial and heated. My readers respond when they’re angry at me, my content, and each other. I don’t always want to make war – just once or twice a month. I find that having lighter fare in between the heavy stuff keeps my readers guessing and that keeps traffic coming.
    Suzi Shumaker recently posted… Church MoneyMy Profile

    1. Daily war could be a bit much. :)

  12. I am using Clicky for my analytics.

    I just like to compare the last 28 days to the 28 before, for users and page impressions. I set a target for more users and page impressions than the same day 4 weeks earlier. Then I go back 28 days earlier and try to write and promote slightly better than I did then.
    Michael Sheridan recently posted… A New Year’s WishMy Profile

    1. Heatmaps can provide some awesome info. Ive played with Clicky a bit. Thanks for mentioning them, Michael. :)

  13. Hi,

    Thanks for sharing great article about creating content according to users choice. This is very useful information for online marketing managers. Keep it up such a nice posting like this.

    Sekhar Reddy.

    1. Hey Sekhar, thanks for stopping by and commenting.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… How to Create Content Your Readers Will Love–Even If You’re Not PsychicMy Profile

  14. Loved the plugins and tips, I installed wordpress popular posts and search meter, thanks so much :)

    1. Awesome, enjoy the new plugins lena. :)

  15. Hi Michelle,
    You have a great weblog with good information. I just started my weblog. I know what I am doing with my business but i try to take my business to the next level by blogging. In just 2-3 weeks I already have a lot of visitors to my weblog by promoting on social media. I know what audience I target to, I know what I want to learn them and I know what they want to read. So i think I am already ahead to some great things. But I am glad I found your blog and will come visit more often.

    Tessa Schaar
    Tessa Schaar recently posted… How To Get Traffic To Your WeblogMy Profile

  16. Hi, Michelle,

    Great post! You have such great information on your blog. I’m going to be using the “Popular Posts” and “Search Meter” plugins. I like the idea of seeing what people are searching for, and how that gives you insight into what they believe you to be knowledgeable about. In a way, that can help you become an “obvious expert.”

    Thanks for sharing your insights, Michelle. I will continue to come back!

    James Himm Mitchell

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