25 April 2012

Why Some Blog Posts are Popular

by Carrie Bailey

If you're a writer, you should want to be read. If you're blogging, you shouldn't want just to be clicked on by Sven in Norway who might have enjoyed your post, but doesn't speak English and found you by misspelling the name of his favorite metal band.

I originally posted about this topic when I decided I was going to develop my online presence and become an author. I had been blogging for one month. Three years later, while sorting through the 200+ posts written on Peevish Penman by the 30+ authors and writers, I can now offer some useful insight into what has made certain Peevish Penman blog posts popular. It was the exact opposite of what my initial research indicated.

Word Count

It doesn't matter. They lied. If a person is interested in the topic and the content quality is high, the length of the post does not make a difference.

SEO and Key Words

Do not waste your time with studying keywords for "author" or "writer" or "book." However, I'll explain when it is valuable later.


Bullet points and bold headings are nice, but are not necessary. Overused, they can make a decent article feel too generic and if that doesn't meet the publication's objective, leave them out. They're optional.

What makes a blog post popular is a separate issue from what makes it successful...

Why is this so? The publication's objectives determine whether or not an article is successful. It doesn't matter if readers scroll to the bottom of the post and comment without reading two-thirds of the article as long as the objective for writing the post is met.
The objective of this post is simple. It's not to sell a product or advertising. I want this article to be read by other writers and I want to make connections with them. I want people to follow this blog and direct me to their blogs. I hope you send me a message on Twitter and talk about this topic with me. Invite me for coffee when you visit Wellington. Send me a free copy of your eBook...

Here are five popular posts from 2009 to 2012:

The Nine Parts of Speech and the F-Word (8300 hits)

This post illustrates how a combination of factors can determine a its popularity. I made myself laugh while writing this and shared it with everyone one I knew on twitter and Facebook. Then, other writers posted it to Digg and StumbleUpon. I now consistently receive 100+ hits per week from the Google search "Fuck" + "Parts of Speech."

The Search for New Zealand Writers (3700 hits)

This post benefited from some accidental search engine magic by including the terms "New Zealand" and "Writer." Almost all hits came directly from Google, but then stopped suddenly. A mystery individual posted it to Reddit, which generated additional traffic.

Editing is Murder (1100 hits)

This guest post was written by scriptwriter Jeanne V. Bowerman. She tweeted it, linked to it and promoted it tirelessly. This is a perfect example of how to be an unforgettable guest blogger. It doesn't hurt that it was a nice piece, too.

Printer's Key for Readers, Writers and Collectors (700 hits)

This is a niche topic that few people understand and less people write about. Peevish Penman ranks high in Google searches for this topic, owing to this single article. Search words: "Printer's Key."

How to Learn to Write by Copying a Book Word for Word (450 hits)

Another example of a guest post well-promoted. Kris Madden is still generating traffic for us with this 2009 article, which he provided links to in his site as well.

So...Why are Specific Blog Posts Popular?

Our popular posts combine self-promotion, social media and then benefit from being picked up by a search engine for a niche topic.

Do you want to sell books, express yourself or gain visibility? Define what makes a successful post and then write for it.


  1. Your practice and persistence are evident in the quality of your articles! Keep it up!

  2. Thanks! It means a lot to get positive feedback after all these years of effort.

  3. One of my most popular posts which still gets a lot of hits was one called 'Fishing Without A Pole'. It had nothing to do with actual fishing, but I think search engines and people looking for 'fishing' topics found it. whether they actual stayed to read or not is another matter!

  4. This is wonderful advice! I've been writing a blog for close to 4 years and learned a lot from your valuable take on blogging. Looking forward to reading more of your insights and information!

  5. Thanks Eileen. I've been visiting yours, which is incredibly informative too, I'm glad I had something to offer.