Generally, the criteria for a good website would also be applicable for evaluating the quality of a blog. Yet, because blogs are all about writing, some of the criteria need to be particularly highlighted and some additional ones need to be included.

Based on the review of benchmarks used by a range of international best blog award competitions, I compiled the following list of criteria that might help in identifying a good blog:

1. Content and ideas
2. Writing style and quality
3. Frequency of updates
4. Design
5. Reading experience, usability and navigation
6. Interaction

1. Content and ideas

The major cornerstone of any blog is its content. If you were to ignore everything else, one thing you should be very clear about is what kind of content you include onto your blog. Without ‘quality’ content, your blog simply won’t attract audience. What exactly is ‘quality’ content depends on and is directly defined by your audience. Therefore, to produce valuable content, you first need to clearly define your potential visitors. And remember you will never be able to satisfy everyone. So define your audience, decide which kind of blog it is that you would like to start (or you already have) and clearly outline your blog’s purpose and theme.

The next important point probably goes without saying, but the information you offer on your blog needs to be interesting and useful. Do not echo or replicate other blogs, put more effort into your work and eventually it will pay off.

Do more research, go an extra mile before posting, collect more information from different sources and then synthesise it in a digestible and original way and share your valuable insights with your followers. Extra effort will not only be noticed by the readers, but will also make you look more credible, knowledgeable and well-read.

And do not forget to let your passion for the subject shine through. Show that you know your subject and are passionate about it.

2. Writing style and quality

Even if your content is unique and useful, poor writing style and spelling mistakes can ruin it all and are most likely to scare your visitors away. To avoid this, focus on defining and developing a strong writing style. And lets be honest, there are no shortcuts to this. Your writing needs to be engaging and compelling all the way through. Catchy headings can only grab your visitors’ attention for a few seconds. Once they discover there is no substance to your attractive titles, your bounce rates will skyrocket. So the only way to become good at writing is to start writing, write regularly and take it seriously.

An important component of a strong writing style is a distinctive tone of voice on your blog. The blog’s overall theme and purpose should guide you in determining what tone to adopt. Regardless of whether you have an academic, a corporate, a travel or any other kind of blog, a useful exercise in determining your tone of voice might be to imagine that you have your blog visitors in front of you and talk to them in your writing. Try to make your language more ‘oral’ and read your blogposts aloud before publishing them. Doesn’t flow? Then acknowledge that something is wrong and revise, revise and revise.

To get some inspiration, read other good blogs of the same kind and remember to always triple-check your spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Finally, if you get inspiration from any sources, be it online or offline, give credit to the original authors by linking to their blog posts, websites, books, etc. Same applies to images, always attribute where they come from.

3. Frequency of updates

Although frequency of updates is often used as one of the important judging criteria for blogs, it is worth noting that post frequency should match the type and style of the blog. The same applies to the post length. Having said that, it is obvious that frequent updates will attract readers to your blog more often and your blog will quicker fill up with valuable content that will encourage people to stay longer and share it. It must also be said that good blogging takes time. My personal view is that it is better to publish it a day later than to publish it half-finished. Ask yourself a question: Will you be proud of this post in a year’s time? If so, go ahead. If not, work on it.

4. Design

Again, similar to how blog’s theme defines your tone, it also dictates the design of the blog. All graphic elements, including images, colors, fonts, layout, amount of white space, should be in harmony with the blog’s style. They should be helping you in getting your message through. Blogging platforms such as WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Medium and Quora, offer a variety of excellent blog templates. Pick the one that suits your style and customise it to make sure your blog is memorable. Remember you need to stand out. Don’t be too creative, however, as it might backfire.

5. Reading experience, usability, navigation

Good usability, accessibility and logical navigation are the three universal characteristics that all websites should strive to perfect. To get these things right, design and organise your blog with your users’ glasses on. What would they like to see and access on your blog? How are they likely to navigate and travel within the blog? What font size would they prefer? What if they have any impairments? Generally, our reading experience may be affected by contrast levels, font size, color schemes and type and size of multimedia files you include. Make it easy for people to read and access your blog regardless of the type of device or browser they use.

6. Interaction

The whole idea behind blogging is sharing valuable insights with like-minded people and interaction and co-creation of new ideas together with them. To facilitate sharing and co-creation, your blog should actively invite interaction, otherwise you become a traditional one-way publisher rather than a blogger. Interaction, discussion and feedback can be encouraged by inviting comments on the posts and through the integration of social media within the blog. Your contact page should also be clear and inviting. In the judgement of the best blogs awards, the blogs are actually evaluated on the amount of feedback they get in comments and on social media sites. So if you get visitors, but no comments, maybe you need to revisit your writing style and let your readers join the conversation.

Finally, don’t forget that blogs come in different forms and have different purposes. So rather than generalising what a good blog should be like, define where your blog belongs and stick to your plan. After all, it is your blog!

The criteria above are based on the generic criteria for website evaluation and the evaluation criteria employed by various blog awards, including:

Web Marketing Association’s Web Awards

Weblog awards

The BoBs

The Blog Awards Ireland

What is a good blog?

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