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Weekend Project: Optimizing Your Most Popular Posts

It goes without saying that all of your posts are gems but once in a while, a post will shine brighter than the others. As a blogger, you have a chance to make the most of these star posts, whether you want to generate revenue from them or simply direct more attention to them. This article will help you not only figure out which of your posts are the most popular but how to optimize those posts for maximum effect. This is a 'weekend project' because it's a little more time-intensive but it's time well spent!

Finding Your Star Posts

It's usually pretty obvious when a post is popular - you might get a slew of comments, the Facebook Like button gets a lot of clicks, and your Stats show many pageviews for that post. But let's dig a little deeper. You might have much older posts that get a lot of traffic from Google and other search engines because of the high quality content. Those types of posts are the meat and potatoes of your blog - the content that brings new readers to your site and keeps current readers coming back.

There are a couple of ways you can find these posts. First, we like the Top Posts widget from PostRank. You just put the widget in your blog's sidebar and Post Rank populates it with the posts that they rate the most popular on your blog. Not only will you get to see which of your posts are the most popular, your visitors will be able to see the list as well. This will help draw lots of attention to those posts.

If you don't want to share a list on the blog itself, a second option is Google's Analytics service. It's totally free and very easy to integrate with TypePad

Analytics To see your top content inside Analytics, log in and click View Report next to the blog you're working with. From there, look for Content Overview at the bottom, right side of the Dashboard page. Then click View Report to see more. The full report page will show all of your blog's pages in order of content performance. The listing is for all of the pages, including categories and archive pages. You'll want to focus on just individual posts for the purposes of this project.

Check Grammar and Spelling

Now comes the part that isn't super fun but we think is pretty important - editing your posts for spelling, grammar and overall correctness. Maybe you have a really popular post that you dashed off in a hurry. If so, you'll want to make sure to check for spelling and grammar errors. It's often helpful to have a friend or colleague read through the content for you, just to double check for any issues you might not spot yourself.

Another good idea is to read the post out loud to yourself. Does it sound natural and conversational or clunky and awkward? You can also check to make sure that outgoing links to other sites are still functional and that those sites or pages are still up.

These might seem like unimportant details but content rife with errors can flag a lack of credibility to the reader. It's worth taking some time to edit and correct any mistakes.

Enhancing Your Content

This part is more fun. Do you have a picture that would complement the content of the post? Go ahead and add it in, especially if you can place it near the most important part of the post. Simply stated, readers love pictures so don't be shy about adding a couple to your popular posts. Keep in mind that you want to keep the focus of these posts on the text itself so while pictures are great, too many might be distracting.

Your top posts present a great opportunity for getting people to subscribe to your feed, find you on Facebook, etc. You can add some text to the top or bottom of the post inviting new readers to subscribe, follow you on Twitter, or however else you like readers to find your content.

Another idea is to link to other posts within the same category or topic. There are widgets that will do this automatically for you but you can also link directly to specific posts that you want to drive more attention to. This can be a simple series of links at the end of the post.

Monetizing Your Very Best Content

There are a few ways you can use your top posts to generate extra money from your blog. In fact, you might find that using your best content to target specific ads is the best way to monetize your content.

Link to specific products via affiliates

Let's say you have a very compelling post about do-it-yourself carpeting. It makes sense to include a link to a product that you mention in the post itself, either as a text link or with a small, eye catching banner image. There are affiliate programs you can join that will pay you a small amount with each sale you generate from the link on your blog. There are many affiliate programs out there - some popular ones include LinkShare and Commission Junction.

If your post is about a smaller service or product, you could also consider contacting the owner of the business to see if they'd like to set up a direct affiliate relationship. These types of ads are less common but it certainly doesn't hurt to ask to see if the opportunity is there.

Link to your own products

If you have your own product - like an ebook or Etsy store - you can link to that product at the end of the post. This can be just a simple text link or an image of the product with a link. The format is up to you.

Use Google's Adsense or other targeted ads

Programs like Google's Adsense look at the keywords in the surrounding text and serve ads relevant to that text. It makes sense that if you put a Google Adsense ad in a post that's rich in a specific keyword or topic, the ads will be complementary to that content. Readers tend to click on ads more often if the links are related to their interests, so targeting your ads this way can lead to more click-throughs.

What are your favorite tips?

Of course, there are probably a million other little or big enhancements you can make to your most popular posts to make them even better. If you have any tricks that have worked wonders for your blog, leave it in the comments. We'd love to hear your tips!

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