Getting inside your Blog Reader’s Mind

Peter has another worthwhile post at Ads On Blog on the topic of Optimum Placement of Google Ads where he suggests that bloggers consider five questions when they decide how to place ads on their blog. Here are the first three which I think are key:

‘1. What is a user trying to accomplish by visiting my site?
2. What do they do when viewing a specific page?
3. Where is the focus of their attention likely to be?’

One of the traps that many bloggers fall into when placing Adsense ads is to just put them where everyone else does – but I think these sorts of questions are a better starting place. Understanding the thought processes and habits of your readers is actually a very helpful thing.

How do you do this? I have done a number of things to try to get inside the minds of some of my readers. Here’s a few suggestions:

1. Watch someone surf your blog – ask someone who hasn’t been to your blog before to have a look around your blog while you watch on. Don’t tell them where to go – but watch what they do. After a few minutes ask them a few questions about what they saw, what they read, what stood out etc. Of course you could pay for a professional eye tracking type service – but even just what you can glean from just observing one person very unscientifically can be very useful.

2. Email your regular readers – On occasion I pick a random regular reader from one of my newsletter lists or comments lists and will ask that reader for feedback on my blog. I seek their opinion on design, ad placement etc and ask them for their impressions of my blog.

3. Do a survey or poll – this can be as big or as small as you like but give all of your readers the opportunity to feedback to you who they are and what they think of your blog. Collect data on who they (demographics), why they come to your blog and what they think of it. Also give them an opportunity to make suggestions. I’m always amazed at how my readers see things that I’ve never noticed before about my blog because they look at it as an objective outsider.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  1. I like the idea of watching someone surf your blog. I did it with 5 friends at different times and boy did I get a migraine ;-) They all did different things, some scrolled, some viewed the sidebar first, some tried to click on un-clickable graphics and so on …

    It was a real eye-opener, because with your own blog you can get at times too insulated with your ‘baby’ and forget that people come and visit you for the first time so you really got to think like them. See it from their perspective.

  2. I think that when you are looking at “Optimum Placement of Google Ads” and thinking of your regular visitors, you are probably missing the largest potential for your ads. You should be looking at how people bounce off your site.
    Regular visitors become blind to the ads, that’s been proven time and again.
    But someone who gets to your site through a key phrase search, and does not see what they came for, and does not have time to investigate your site more carefully, is very likely to click an ad if that ad helps them solve their problem.
    We do usability studies on how people bounce off our pages, and place ads accordingly.

  3. The title of the post “Optimum Placement of Google Ads” is a little bit misleading.

    I thought I would get some advice on the best locations based on user surveys or personal experience.

    Anyways, Darren’s tip on ” Watch someone surf your blog” is pretty useful.

    I religiously follow the Google Heatmap for my blog and results have been nice.

  4. I like these tips but I have no idea how you would watch someone navigate a site.
    I have a personal site. The second and third tips are a good idea.

  5. I do tested out this technique and found that my blog could be improved.

  6. Great tips, I just dont understand how you can review how someone has navigated your site

  7. Great idea! I’d ask my friends for their suggestions and comments and to my surprise (not really), all of them have different views about the blog design.

    Some gave it a rating of 6/10, some say 9/10.

    My main objective is navigation and usability. Will it be possible to do up a design to cater to most people? :)

  8. I think it is important not to copy just any successful blog’s advertising. It is much better to see very similar successful blog’s strategy on placing ads, then place ads in similar places and see how they perform.