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Our blogging resolutions for 2017

Now that 2016 is done and dusted (and what a year it was), we’ve done some digging on the blog stats for last year. We wanted to see how the blog’s doing and what our audience like.

I'm totally blogging this t-shirt slogan
Photo by Amy Gahran, used with Creative Commons License 2.0

We looked at source traffic, readability of posts, length vs readership and other things. We used a combination of Google Analytics and a readability tool called Readable to do this. Here’s what we found along with some ideas on how we can blog better. It’s about to get very meta.

People really want to work in Parliament

Our most popular blog post ever was about our recruitment open day. This is good news for us as it means that people are interested in working in Parliament. We created a new jobs page off the back of this to help direct those who’re interested in working here. It went live at the end of November and was in the top 15 most popular posts/pages last year.

It also means that we should blog more about our recruitment process, what we’re doing to make it better and why the process can take a while. As you can imagine, security is pretty tight at Parliament so that can often delay new starters coming on board. We need to make the process clearer for those who’re new to Parliament.

Be where people are

Google was our biggest referrer with 50% of traffic to the most popular posts. Twitter was a close second with 40%. The most interesting thing about source traffic was that the source varies depending on the topic. This was something I wasn’t expecting. We need to do more work to build on existing networks and be where people are.

Popularity vs readability

Another thing we need to improve is our Flesch Kincaid score which is a measure of readability. It doesn’t look like our posts are popular because they’re really readable, it’s the opposite. Flesch Kincaid recommends a score between 60 and 80 so that content is accessible without being overly simplified. However only two of our most popular posts had a score over 60. We need to do better than this. This year, we want all of our blog posts to score 60 or above.

Using plain English has been shown to be the best way of being understood by your audience. A lot of the 2016 posts had less than 20% of complex words which is something to build on. Our scores are really positive and means that we shouldn’t find it too difficult to improve on our readability.

Another surprising stat was that all of the 10 most popular posts were more than 600 words. This could suggest that our readers aren’t put off by a long read. However looking at the average for the year, we don’t write many short digestible posts. It’s therefore hard to tell whether shorter or longer posts are best for our readers. We need to experiment with varying lengths of posts and see what works better.

Blogging resolutions

In summary, these are the things that we’ll be working on to make the blog better:

  • being more transparent about our recruitment process and what we’re doing to improve it
  • promoting our blog posts through different channels and taking advantage of existing networks
  • improving the readability of blog posts by using plain and accessible language
  • publishing a variety of posts with varying levels of detail and more updates from different teams in PDS

Let us know what you think about the blog in the comments below. 

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