Blog Authority? Huhn?

About a year or so ago, I decided to look into what made a blog successful or not successful.  Of course, a lot of this depends on the purpose of your blog.  If it’s only to share your photos and family news, then just getting your relatives and friends on line and with the program is enough.  If you’re selling something it’s another thing.  I watched a neighbor build a blog for a B&B, one for a small theater, and another for a Wine and Cheese delicatessen.  They were looking to reach and service new and existing customers.  Political and opinion blogs have a different goal and a somewhat different metric. Since we’re in that category, I’m going to share the methodology and metrics with you.  I also want to let you know why this interests me.

There are several places you can look to see how ‘seriously’ a blog is taken by the blogosphere.  Just recently, an academic study–yup, you know me– was done to create a Blogosphere Authority Index and you can find the results for political blogs here. You may recognize several of the blogs rated there including  Corrente. Lambert does a fine job at doing the things which create the atmosphere for a high rating for a political blog.  First, he makes sure his posts are relevant to the subject.  Second, he does a good job at getting links and ping backs from other blogs; especially those with higher ratings like, say Crooks and Liars. He makes comments and networks with other bloggers.  That particular referenced study looks at both left and right wing blogs.  I focused on the left wing or ‘progressive’ blogs.

There are several rating places that examine blogs.  They don’t really look at the ‘truthiness’ of the blog, but at how effective it is at attracting readers and links.  Technorati.com is probably the major one.   There’s also Alexa.  Alexa’s rating is the  measure that I mentioned a few weeks ago when I said we started out some where in the ranking world with a number approaching 12 million.  Our three month ranking stands today at 956,644 which includes only about 6 weeks of active blogging and interaction . The rest of the three month period basically relates to my using this site as a file cabinet for my economic/finance items.  If you just look at our last month’s traffic, then, you’ll see our 1 month rating is 383,450.  That’s a huge change and you’re part of it!!   Alexa goes on traffic or page views so it ranks how many people go to a blog.

Technorati has a different set up.  It rates a blog not only by overall standing, but by how well that blog attracts other blogs’ attention.  It also ranks you by different subject categories.  We’re really moving up in the U.S. political blog category. We now rank 257.  Just today, we went up 367 places.   Here’s that data.

257. Sky Dancing

https://dakiniland.wordpress.com
Recent: Julian Assange Arrested by Scotland …

U.S. Politics
Auth: 543
Moved positive places Change +367

Read more: http://technorati.com/blogs/directory/politics/uspolitics/page-11/#ixzz17U8pgsZU

Wonkette was on the same page, so I took a snapshot of their numbers for comparison. Wonkette has traditionally been a highly-rated progressive blog with an active community.

236. Wonkette

http://wonkette.com

Recent: So This Is What Compromise Looks …

U.S. Politics
Auth: 554
Moved negative places Change -2

Since we’re relatively new at this, we’re changing quite rapidly and may not settle into our true average for another month or two.   I’m going to refer back to a few links above to give you an idea of how blogs are evaluated so you know what the numbers I just gave you actually mean.  Here’s an explanation for Techonorati from bulletproof blog.

Launched several years ago as a blog search engine designed to simply aggregate and organize the global online conversation, Technorati.com has ultimately evolved into a full-fledged online indexing and rating service, providing data on authority and influence. Simply plugging in the name or address of a blog into the Technorati.com search bar will provide the blog’s authority score and ranking. The authority score, which identifies a blog’s level of influence in its specific genre, is based on traffic statistics, linking behavior, and its relevance to popular topics. A blog’s Technorati.com ranking indicates where a given blog ranks among the authority scores of all blogs. The ease and expediency of Technorati.com make it one of the first places that you should stop when evaluating the influence of a blog.

The BAI study–the academic one–that created a “Blogosphere Authority Index” has different methodology and you can find the explanation in a section of the paper published here.  The index attempts to blend a variety of different measures including influence.

This example is an illustration of four distinct areas of influence: network centrality, link density, site traffic, and community activity. To create a comprehensive ranking system, this paper identifies the best-available proxy for each of these types of influence, converts them to ordinal rankings, and then combines them into a single index of authority.

There is a score for site traffic (the number of people who visit a blog), the activity of the community (that would be the number of people that return to the blog and comment), and then there’s the interaction with other blogs through listings and pingbacks.  This isn’t just listing some one on your blog roll.  You have to actively quote the blog with an active link to it and your community needs to be interested enough in that link to go there.  The other blog also needs to reciprocate.  People that are really interested in bumping up their influence numbers have to go from blog to blog and actively get links and ping backs.

Other than academic curiosity–of which I have plenty–what does this mean? Well, one of the things it means is that your community and  your blog is recognized as part of a bigger and important discussion on things.  In this case, that would be the U.S. political area. It also means that when politicians are looking for focus groups or looking at how people feel about things, you’re included because your community and blog has numbers, authority, and peer-acknowledged information.

So, our little blog that could has made some important steps in the last 4 -6 weeks.  First, we’ve been linked to by Memorandum which is a site that lists political issues and blogs that discuss them.  They don’t do that for all blogs.  It’s a list that is followed by bloggers, the media, and politicians. Being linked there ups the exposure of the opinions here for both front pagers and down pagers.  It also means that we’re more likely to be read by others and linked to by others which, as I’ve stated, means we go up in authority and down in ranking.  (You want a high Technorati authority rating but a low ranking. You want to be 1000 on authority and less than 100 or ranking.  The 100 ranking or less says you’re in the top 100 blogs in that category.)

So, does this mean that all of us front pagers want to be the Big Orange Cheeto?  Well, speaking for me and just me,  HELL no!!  I don’t want a blog that has thousands of comments no one reads or can respond to and cares about.  So, that’s not my intent with following these things.  Oh, and you can follow these things too with the links I’ve given here and several buttons I stuck way down in the left hand corner of the leftmost column.  The deal is that in politics you want to be part of the conversation.  That happens only when you reach a certain point in these rating and ranking services.  They pay attention to who we all are.  This is especially true during election years.  If you were out and about in 2008 or before–as most of us were–you could tell who was important by how many folks would come and dump the meme du jour of whatever candidate on your message thread.  It was also pretty obvious that some politicians were interested in certain demographics and if they found it at any particular blog, they would actually read or follow that blog.

So, this is why I follow these metrics and mention them ever so often.  First, it assures me that we are doing a good job here, because it shows us where our readers come from, who they are, and how many of them there are reading us and returning to read us.  It’s a metric that can be used to measure if we’re meeting our goals of having a conversation that matters.  Second, it’s a metric that that measures if our conversations not only matter to us but, if they can make a difference in the bigger scheme of conversations.   I would like us to be a vehicle that some senator or congressman or governor could trip across.  Our numbers assure us a seat at some tables.

Any way, I hope I haven’t bored you with too many details, but this is why I’d like to celebrate that our three month Alexa traffic rating is good and our 1 month rating is outstanding.  More people are joining our conversation and our conversations are more likely to be read by people that could matter.

Bravo and brava!  Sky Dance on!!


32 Comments on “Blog Authority? Huhn?”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    Just my singular observation regarding the success or failure of a blog.

    It first must offer some pretty good writing by the author(s) of the site. Matters not what the category, a gifted writer who can maintain interest in what they have to impart is the most important ingredient. This site offers just that.

    This site offers a variety of topics up for discussion. Your posters seem to come from a variety of diverse backgrounds and are capable of holding up their end of the discussion. So far there have been few “heated” debates as most commentators overall are pretty much like minded, but there is a certain assurance that by offering a different point of view the poster is not made to feel like they have committed a mortal sin in doing so. Respectful commentatory is much appreciated.

    I enjoy reading and I always come away feeling as if I have learned something from the Front Pagers who take the time to express their thoughts and are able to write in a manner that does not turn off the reader by becoming too technical or obtuse by my limitations. This is a big plus.

    Lastly, the blog is successful because many of us have followed you and some of the others for years and even though I may not have commented in the past when you were elsewhere, I alway managed to read what it was you were attempting to relate as it was done in a manner that I could understand. This is vastly important to the reader.

    This blog is successful because of the writers and the content. Keep it up.

  2. dakinikat says:

    Just to give you an idea of how we’re quickly changing, the new Alexa stats just came in:

    Traffic Rank Change
    1 month 356,490 -9,830,650
    Change in Traffic Rank over the trailing 1 month period (A negative change means the site is getting more popular)
    3 month 893,030 -5,877,464
    Change in Traffic Rank over the trailing 3 month period (A negative change means the site is getting more popular)

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Thanks for giving this clear explanation, Dakinikat. I’m really excited by all the progress we have made in such a short time.

  4. Sima says:

    This is a very informative post. Just for fun, I checked out my farm site. Hehe, no ranking, but then it’s not a blog! Still, this gives me clues about making it a more successful selling point for the farm, in my copious free time *snicker*.

    I’m going to work on making my political posts here more ‘attractive’ in that they will have links for pingbacks and such. Shouldn’t be too difficult!

    • dakinikat says:

      Hey!! I love the gardening and farming posts!!! Don’t stop doing those!!!

      • Sima says:

        I won’t do that! What I am trying to do is a roundup of farming/food oriented legislation, regulations, etc. And I can do some links to some of the main blogs in those.

        Also got some anti-war stuff to discuss. The movement is starting to awaken again. I guess the hope and change crap is over with them too.

        • dakinikat says:

          Yup, the anti-war stuff is so important! Remember, we were supposed to have The ONE that was supposed to put an end to all that instead we got ONE who escalated it. We need to bring our resources–human and monetary–home!!

        • zaladonis says:

          And I think the growing anti-war movement now (if it’s a movement, yet) is not only about humanity but money. We could end poverty in America, we could cut taxes and cut the deficit, if we stopped playing war games in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  5. Sima says:

    Also, I have to say I’m not super surprised, but very pleased, by how quickly this little blog has moved up. I’m not super surprised because of the calibre of my fellow front pagers. You guys ROCK!

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Yeah, ditto what Sima said. I feel so fortunate to be a part of the team…words cannot express my gratitude and appreciation to everyone that is working so hard on this little blog that can.

  6. mablue2 says:

    Way to go! Keep it up Sky Dancers.

  7. cwaltz says:

    Wonkette is progressive? I know, I know that wasn’t the point of the post. Still……
    All I remember about Wonkette was that odious boy taunting a Hillary Clinton supporter for her weight. Yuck-o. That they should rank as 254 is actually an affront to conversation.

    I love the site though dak. You’ve done a good job making your arguments based on facts and experience. You’re informative. And most importantly IMO you have created a haven where views can be exchanged respectfully(as opposed to a place like Wonkette).

    Kudos.

    • dakinikat says:

      It’s definitely been a team effort. I was completely experiencing shock and awe about a month ago and just so many folks encouraged me and joined me that I feel like a little tiny wee part of it all now. I’m just so happy to be part of such a group of wonderful front pagers and a terrific community of commenters. It’s renewed me.

    • Seriously says:

      Yeah, I agree. Our political culture has degraded so much (well, maybe it was always like this but it certainly feels like it’s gone downhill) that it’s very discouraging to see blogs like Wonkette, among many others, influence the frat boys who present the news. OTOH, it’s encouraging if they’re actually reading along at places like this. They may actually learn something substantive for a change.

  8. zaladonis says:

    Kat, you do an amazing job of explaining technical stuff like this.

    And I’m so happy about those numbers.

    The deal is that in politics you want to be part of the conversation. That happens only when you reach a certain point in these rating and ranking services. They pay attention to who we all are. This is especially true during election years.

  9. Fredster says:

    I’ve stopped by a couple of times after I noticed you no longer at TC. However it was just now that I noticed your “masthead” and writers. Now I know where so many familiar names have landed. Good luck and I’ll be stopping by.

  10. Boo Radly says:

    Dak – what Pat said. You have a gift in your ability to do detailed analysis and make this bubble head understand. The combination of FP’s on board are also A+. I’m old fashioned – takes time to gain my trust – more than a few blogs out here have morphed into something diametrically different from what they started as. Been a wild volatile time in our countries’ history. You’ve provided clarity and is much appreciated.

    Relevant and comprehensible is where it is at! – yep.

  11. NW Luna says:

    I have been thinking that this blog has really been a happenin’ place! It’s such a good blog because of the evidenced-based writing — data, and thoughtful, heartfelt opinions. Also respectful, and often fun interactions.

    Congrats to all and especially Dak.

  12. foxyladi14 says:

    Congratulation,s Sky Dancing!!!!!visit every day.
    thanks to all the front pagers and commentators.. 🙂

    • HT says:

      Ditto – I don’t comment often but I am here several times per day because all the FPagers write thought provoking articles, and the comments are equally thought provoking, so no wonder the blog is gaining stature outside of the community. Well done everyone!