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
Moved positive places Change +367
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.
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!!