In the Googleplex headquarter in the Mountain View, California, Larry Page, the co-founder and CEO of Google, believes the company faces an existential question despite being in fantastic shape. Larry is questioning things, thinking about what the future will bring. He believes in big ideas rather than mundane products. These ideas are called “moonshots”. He is challenging other Googlers to come up with another big idea after search that will keep the company relevant and growing in the future.
There’s an important lesson here for all bloggers. You should be reviewing your activities and your progress. You should not be content with your situation despite what the current status is. You should be thinking about the future and figuring out how to keep being relevant in the ever-changing world.
Doing a yearly blog performance review
You might be familiar with performance reviews companies do to measure the performance of their employees, things employees have been working on and how to improve in the future. This can then result in the employee being awarded a bonus or getting together a plan of attack for how to reach future goals. As a blogger it is important to do a similar review. This will help you figure out what worked well, what didn’t work that well and then proceed to make new goals and create a plan of priorities to do to reach them in the upcoming months. And doing a review for yourself and not for your company is a much more interesting and rewarding project.
It is important to set aside some time to reflect and evaluate your site’s performance honestly to determine what you need to change, what you need to adjust or to modify, and to make plans on how you need to proceed forward. This counts for everything from the look and feel of your site, to the content creation process, to your marketing activities but also a more deeper and personal look into your own behavior, tasks you spend your time on, your motivation, ambition, skills and attitude.
It is vital to put everything in perspective, ask yourself hard questions and be completely honest with the answers. Asking yourself right questions could be the answer to your content marketing struggles. Being critical and asking yourself hard questions is a tough exercise but a necessary one if you want your site to keep growing and improving. Asking hard questions and doing it often can help you avert from upcoming problems, help you see and recognize things you didn’t consider, and reveal new paths and opportunities towards a brighter future.
One of the best tools you can use to help you in the review process is Google Analytics and the data it provides you. I am a big fan and use it to run several reports that show me everything from which of my content works best, helps me analyses why that content works, which of my marketing activities have brought the biggest number of visitors and much more. See bit more details on how Google Analytics help you.
Being introspective might be hard during busy and stressful times throughout the year. Life and work get in the way. Holiday season might be the best time of the year for you to conduct your own yearly review. It is a perfect time to reflect back at your year, analyze your stats, making New Year’s resolutions and deciding how to continue. You can get the total overview that will help you set new goals, reignite your motivation, and drive your activities forward.
A list of powerful questions for an effective performance review
It is necessary to reflect on tough questions, answer them honestly and follow the answers by taking actions that will get you closer to your goals. There are no right or wrong answers but you cannot be passive in this exercise. These questions and answers to them are meant to get the wheels turning. This is a list of expansive and open questions smart content marketers should be asking themselves:
- How happy am I overall with my blog out of 10?
- Why do I have a blog?
- What does success look like to me?
- Is my site what I say it is?
- Why does the world need my site?
- What problems do I usefully solve?
- To whom does my site add value?
- Why should my target audience listen to me, follow me and care about my site?
- What does my target audience want my site to be?
- How likely is it that a visitor would share and recommend my site to someone in their network?
- What does my site stand for and what is it against?
- What can I do today or in the very short term to improve my site?
- What risk would I take if I knew I could not fail?
- What tasks and actions am I avoiding?
- Which ineffective tasks am I doing that delude me into thinking that I’m making progress?
- Are the tasks that I am doing now consistent with my main goals?
- Why isn’t this working any more?
- Is what I do relevant? Will it still be relevant in 6 months or a year?
- How is the environment around me changing?
- Is my business changing as fast as the environment around me?
- How should I respond to the new realities?
- Of the things that I do, which should I stop doing?
- What is it that I am not doing at all and/or not doing well enough?
- What else do I need to start working on?
- Are there gaps in my knowledge that I need to fill?
- Would I recommend my site and my product to someone I really care about?
- What successful things that I do today will stop me from getting into new growth opportunities?
- Which of the decisions and actions that I take today will I regret the most a year from today?
- What trends could make my site and my business obsolete in the near future?
- What potentially critical information do I ignore?
- What would I do in the situation if I had to start a new site to compete against myself?
- If I was kicked out from my site, what would the new blogger that has no attachment to the site do?
- If my site was no longer online, who would miss it?
- Why did my traffic increase or decrease in this period of time?
- Why did the conversion rate and sales go up or down in this month?
- Which goals have I achieved?
- Which goals am I on the way to achieve?
- Which goals seem to be out of my reach and why?
- Which of the tasks I am spending time on bring me the best results?
- What actually works and what doesn’t?
- Is my site where I want it to be?
- What can I do differently?
- What can I do better?
- What activities can I stop doing as they don’t produce results I need?
- What goals do I want to achieve in the near future?
A list of questions to evaluate a blog
These questions can be used to review a blog you run yourself, or for example a site you are looking to guest post on or run advertising on. Some questions are very basic but will help you think of things that you don’t necessary think about in your day-to-day blogging.
It is important to think strategically in your blogging. You need to know what the purpose of your site is, you need to strategically focus your content and lead your visitor to take action that will help you achieve your goals.
- Does the domain name indicate its purpose?
- Is there a descriptive and relevant tagline that states what the page is about?
- Is it immediately clear for first time visitors what the page is about and what its purpose is?
- Is the navigational menu relevant, useful and intuitive?
- Is the front page inviting the visitor to click and explore the content deeper?
- Are there elements that encourage repeated visits like newsletter subscription and social media follow buttons?
- Are there elements that encourage sharing through social media share buttons?
In order to gain loyal fans and grow a following you need to build connection and trust with your visitors. You do that by being open, personal and by showcasing your knowledge, ability and skills.
- Is it clear who the author of the site is?
- What are the qualifications and/or credentials of the author?
- Is the contact info or contact form accessible?
- Does the site or the author have an active and thriving social media presence?
Content is what makes or breaks your project. Without content there would no visitors, no followers and no opportunities for a blogger. You need to create content that people love to engage with and share with their networks.
- Does the site offer original content that is not available elsewhere?
- Is the content format scannable with white space, paragraphs, subheadlines, bulleted and numbered lists?
- Is the content reliable, accurate and objective?
- Is the content free of grammar and spelling errors?
- How comprehensive and in-depth is the content?
- Is the content that is provided outdated?
- Are the links working?
- Are the links relevant and the anchor text descriptive?
- Is the content the primary focus of the site and not overshadowed by ads?
In order to fully benefit from the great content that you create you need to present your content and yourself in a visually appealing way. You also need to make sure that your page looks great and displays correctly on any browser or device.
- Is the presentation appealing, well organised and strategically focused?
- Does the contrast between font color and background color make it easy on the eyes when reading?
- Do posts have a way to return to the front page?
- Is everything in the sidebar necessary?
- Is there a prominent and visually appealing image on each post?
- Are the “alt” tags placed on images?
- How intrusive are the advertisements and other banners for the readers?
- Is the site displayed correctly in different browsers and different operative systems?
- Is the site viewable on mobiles and tablets?
Comments area is an important area of your page. This is where you can get feedback from your audience and connect to them deeper. It is important to moderate it correctly so no spam gets through.
- Are comments moderated and spam comments filtered out?
- Is there a CAPTCHA or other hurdles for commenting that ruin the user experience?
- Do comments require a manual approval from the author?
- Is there a commenting policy?
- Is the author responding to comments and forming a sense of community?
Keeping your page secure and making it quick to load for your visitors are key ingredients when maintaining a healthy and successful site. These may not be the most glamorous and exciting activities but they are completely necessary and should be dealt with seriously.
- Is the site quick to load?
- Are all the plugins installed in actual use on the site?
- Are WordPress and the plugins upgraded to their most recent versions?
- Is the copyright status note stated somewhere (usually in the footer)?
By installing a tool like Google Analytics you get access to a wealth of data that can be used to analyse the effectiveness of your content, your marketing and other activities. Make sure to actually do that as using data learnings is in most cases more reliable than using personal judgement when making decision.
- What posts are the most visited?
- What are the most shared posts in social media?
- What are the most commented posts?
- What are the top referral sources of traffic?
- What are the top keyword phrases visitors have found the content with in search engines?
- What is the Google PageRank of the site? Google gives each domain a rank on the scale of 0 to 10 where 0 is the minimum score and 10 is the maximum score. Any domain having score 5 or more, will be a contender for a popular page in its niche
Not everything goes according to the plan
During the year make sure to look at the status of your goals and projects maybe once a month, and hopefully see your project gradually improving and moving closer to the goals you have set. For the big yearly performance review it is important to make it a regular process, for example once a year as the name says. Keep all the notes in a document so you can look back on the status, the goals, and the progress you have made throughout your experience.
Just remember that not everything goes according to the plan, there are always some external circumstances that you cannot control. So anticipate setbacks on your road and be flexible knowing that maybe you cannot reach each and every goal, but that you know what you want to achieve, you know what steps you need to take, that you are taking those steps, and that you can see gradual improvement in the situation.