How the World Actually Reads Your Blog Posts

I understand how the successful blogs of the world make money from advertising and other links that surround their very valuable posts. Presumably a fair number of readers actually visit the blogs themselves. However I and thousands like me can only extract benefit by reading a carefully crafted, usually large, collection of blogs that can only sensibly be read using an aggregator. Like a huge number of blog readers I use Google Reader. Therefore I perceive posts from otherwise beautifully laid out blog pages in the limited way Google Reader allows. Surely then blog page designers should always take Google Reader’s layout into account? The sad fact is that few seem to do so.

Take an example chosen at random from one of my favourite blogs, ReadWriteWeb. Here is part of a post in Google Reader, the way a large part of the readership will see it:

10-02-2010 SNAG-01

Here is part of the same post from the ReadWriteWeb site, the way the blog writers want us to read it:

10-02-2010 SNAG-00

Obviously the ads are missing –some readers will welcome that – but other features are omitted as well. The most important to my mind is the lack of the by-line and the date and time of publication – important when citing the post. I would be happy to use the retweeting mechanism from Google Reader as well but it has gone walkabout. In addition, the valid sponsor message in the Google Reader version completely breaks up the simple layout further.

Google Reader is definitely here to stay and I suspect its use is increasing as each day goes by. Its blog post content extraction method probably won’t change much. Surely blog page designers should put some effort into making sure their important content finds it way into Google Reader?

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About Michael Rees
Academic in IT interested in Web 2.0 and social media

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