Jul 262011

Tonia’s challenge this week is to “anaylz[e] a top genealogy blog…. simply to observe and learn from others.”
I have chosen to review Greta Koehl’s Greta’s Genealogy Blog for the following reasons:
  • a 2011 Family Tree Magazine top 40 blog, listed in the My Family History category – “It’s personal with these bloggers, whose primary motivation is to share their ancestors with the living.”
  • Greta’s Genealogy Blog (hereafter referred to as GGB) has 248 followers listed via Google Friend Connect and 134 by NetworkedBlogs. One of the reasons for building a better genealogical blog is to increase readership. Greta has certainly found ways to do that.
  • Greta has been following my blog for some time now and has offered comments on a few occasions. While not a family cousin; she’s a genealogy cousin and, therefore, part of the family.

In setting up this week’s challenge, Tonia cautioned us to “Be unique. Learn from others and be inspired by them, but don’t copy them.” Good advice. Unfortunately, as I have reviewed GGB, I have found so many ways that I might improve my blog, that many of them will simply be copied. After all, as it is said, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
My Learnings:

  • I like the pages with Texas and South Carolina blogs. Since most of my ancestors have Ohio roots, I will add a page that lists Ohio bloggers. (Geneabloggers.com lists 19 Ohio genealogy blogs. Since this was the first time that I looked at this feature in geneabloggers.com, I see that my blog is not listed among the Ohio genealogy blogs. I will correct that.
  • GGB not only lists the surnames that Greta is researching, but has links to posts containing those surnames. That is a nice feature that I would like to add to my listing of surnames. That will require my reviewing all my posts and making sure that I have tagged them with the appropriate surnames.
  • GGB has a page entitled “My Genealogy Toolbox.” That is a nice idea. I have kept most of my links in Google bookmarks and Tami Glatz’s RelativelyCurious Community Toolbar. Since Google is no longer supporting it bookmarks function, I have been musing about how I will keep my research links. A Research Toolbox page on this blog is one way to keep it alive. [An aside: I noted that GGB also has additional links that might be put in theToolbox listed on the main page. That demonstrates a difficulty that I am facing with all the links I want to preserve – namely, where to put them so they will be easily available and how to organize them so I don’t have to go searching for them in a number of places.]
  • There were a number of ‘gadgets’ (that is Blogger’s name for them) that I found in GGB that I want to explore and/or simply add to my blog:
    • NetworkedBlogs
    • GenealogyWise, Facebook, Blogtalkradio
    • List of genealogical societies to which I belong
    • Blog posts by others that I have “starred” in Reader.
  • I reviewed the list of posts for 2011. Greta averages about 15 posts a month. She repeats a number of her own themes (for example: “Monday Memories” and “What I Learned on Wednesday”). Almost a quarter of her posts were “Follow Friday Newsletter.” These posts include links to interesting posts from other bloggers with a brief comment. (I was honored to be listed recently.) In addition, Greta has a paragraph or two summarizing “My Research Week.” What a nice touch!
  • I very much liked the concluding words on the blog’s home page: “If you see your ancestors on this blog… contact me! I am always happy to share information. My e-mail address is in my profile (the link under the section entitled “About Me”). ” My only concern about this is its placement at the bottom of the page. The lengthy list of links and archived posts put this invitation in a place where few will ever see it. I will have to think about how to add a similar invitation to my blog, but in a more readily accessible spot for readers.

One of Tonia’s question was: “Is there anything that could be improved?” I did notice one design issue. The header on the home page only extends about 2/3 of the way across the page. The extra white space contributes nothing. Personally, I would prefer the header to span the page. This is not a major issue and it certainly does not detract from the content of GGB.

Greta’s GGB was a delight and a pleasure to review. Greta writes in an engaging manner. I particularly enjoyed The Law and Order Method of Genealogy (2 January 2011).

In conclusion, this was an important task. Since the primary purpose of #31WBGB is to make our blogs better, I chose the right blog to review. GGB has provided me with a lot of ideas about how I might improve my blog. Thanks, Tonia, and a special thanks to Greta!

  7 Responses to “#31WBGB: Analyze a Top Genealogy Blog”

  1. Thanks for pointing out the blogs by state at GeneaBloggers. I'm an Ohio blogger, too, and wasn't there, either. Poor Thomas may be inundated with requests for their blogs to be added to the states lists. Thanks also for the great review.

  2. Thanks, Nancy. When i get yhst page running on my blog, i'll make sure your blog is listed.

  3. Bart, thank you so much for your kind comments and especially for your very helpful suggestions! I had much the same feelings about the placement of the "If you see your ancestors.." section, and have moved it up near the top of the page. The blog banner will probably remain as it is for a while. I am attached to it (it dates to the days when GGB had one of the older Blogger templates) – I was able to make it following Thomas Macentee's instructions and was very happy with it, but when I moved to a new template, it was not wide enough and there was no way to center it. Eventually I'll have to try to redo the image to make it wider, but the image is on my older (and crankier) computer, so I have been putting it off. For me it is the element that connects the various incarnations of my blog. There are a few other updates I need to do as well (such as adding more SC and TX blogs).

    And if I may return the favor – I love your blog and your thoughtful posts do inspire me to comment (we seem to share an interest in musing on the "deeper significance" of genealogical research). The starry background is lovely, and the layout is clean and easy to read and navigate. I am delighted that you are blogging regularly again, because you bring a broad perspective, humor, and a logical, well-organized presentation.

  4. I've been putting off this week's challenge because it seems so daunting, but your wonderful post has given me new courage to tackle week 4 of bettering my genealogy blog. Cheers!

  5. I'm glad you chose Greta's blog, one of the most popular out there. She has a sparkly personality and it shows through in her posts, and as a bonus, we all learn from her.

  6. Excellent post, Bart! GGB is one of my favorite blogs and Greta is one my favorite genea-friends. You did a great analysis and I'm glad you found several ideas that you want to implement on your own blog.

    As always, thanks for playing 31WBGB!

  7. I too enjoy Greta's blog, and felt you did a great job of putting into words why her blog is so successful. I'm also an Ohio blogger, and like the idea of having a page for that. Well done!

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