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How to Measure a Blog’s Success?

As I was writing my post a couple of days back on the Conversation Index (comment to post ratio) that some bloggers are talking about as a measure of success for blogging I found myself asking the question:

‘How should a blog’s success be measured?’

As I mentioned in my post, the conversational index might be a useful calculation to make overtime to measure the interactivity on a blog – but this is only one possible element of success that a blogger might choose to evaluate.

Here are a few other measures of success that different bloggers might use to evaluate how their blogs are going. Some will be more or less relevant for different blogs and will depend upon the goals and objectives of the blogger:

1. Traffic – The most common ways that bloggers seem to evaluate a blog are the different measures of traffic. Different bloggers seem to have their own preferences for different aspects of traffic:

  • Unique Visitors – individual IP addresses logged to a page
  • Page Views – the total number of pages viewed (it’s useful to watch the ratio of pages viewed per visitor – the higher it is the stickier your site is)
  • Hits – the number of requests sent for a file to the server

2. Length of Stay - I know some bloggers who watch the time that the average visitor stays on a blog as a measure of stickiness.

3. RSS Subscribers – RSS subscriber levels is increasingly coming into play for many blogs. While it varies greatly from blog to blog in terms to how many readers are utilizing it I’m finding it more and more common to find bloggers who have a pretty good grasp on the numbers of subscribers (something most of us had little idea on even a year ago). Services like Feedburner and Bloglines make it easier to keep an eye on these numbers.

4. Comment Numbers – We’ve already discussed this so I won’t go on about it except to say that it’s useful for engaging the level of interaction on your blog.

5. Comments Length – I tend not to focus so much on this but know of some bloggers that are incredibly proud of the effort that their readers go to in responding to their posts.

6. Comments Quality - This one is difficult to measure (it’s pretty subjective) but is worthwhile to consider in my opinion. I’d much rather 3 comments per post that add something to what I have to say (even if it’s disagreement) than 20 that say ‘nice post’. While the ‘nice post’ comments are welcome – my own goals in writing go beyond a need for admiration and are more about creating conversation that stimulates change in my readers and in myself through what they add to the dialogue.

7. Other Feedback from Readers – This is high on my list of things that give me an indication of the health of my blogs. Emails and Instant Messaging conversations are brilliant for gauging what people think of your blog and more importantly how they are using it. For example a couple of months ago I noticed that I had quite a few emails from readers of one of my blogs asking for information on exactly the same thing. The topic was one that I’d previously covered which told me that my design of that blog wasn’t really adequate as they were not finding what they wanted quickly.

8. Other Participation from Readers – There are many ways that readers can participate on a blog that go beyond comments and emails. One that I watch here at ProBlogger is the level of subscribers (and unsubscribers) to my newsletter. A sudden influx of subscribers is often an indication that I’ve written something that has hit home with readers (or an indication that I have a lot of first timer readers). Other participation might include response to polls, competitions and other calls to action.

9. Incoming Links and Trackbacks – The levels of incoming links to your blog can be an indicator of both how well or how badly you’re writing (depending upon the nature of the links). Incoming links are good for a blog in most cases because of the incoming traffic that follow them but also because they are a major factor in climbing the rankings in search engines. They can be monitored in a number of ways:

  • Trackbacks – while some bloggers hate them most blogs utilize them to further conversations and as notification of what others are writing about you.
  • Search Engines - type in ‘link:domainname’ into Google and you can get a good quick picture of the incoming links that that search engine has indexed for your blog (example for ProBlogger). A more automated way to monitor incoming links (backlinks) in the major search engines is to use digital point’s backlink checking tool.
  • Blog Indexing Services – services like Technorati offer services to monitor what other bloggers are writing about you (example for ProBlogger)
  • RSS Searches – I use the search function on Bloglines to monitor keywords such as ‘Problogger’ and ‘Darren Rowse’ to watch what others say about me (sounds paranoid but it’s a wonderful way to interact with different bloggers who are responding to your posts who you might have missed otherwise). In doing so you do pick up on some incoming links that trackbacks don’t pick up.
  • Referral Stats – Most statistics packages offer the ability to track where your readers come from to get to your blog. This shows you the things they are searching search engines for but also the sites that are linking up.

A word of warning – while monitoring the above is useful some bloggers fall into the track of becoming quite addicted to checking these types of statistics and can become a pretty egotistical and unproductive exercise. I take note of these things personally but its only something I do every now and again unless there is some sort of breaking news or a crisis to manage.

10. Search Engine Rankings (SERPS) – how high your blog ranks in search engines for different keywords is something that some bloggers monitor carefully as an indicator of success. Services like digital point’s keyword tracker is a useful tool for monitoring this if you want a way to do it that is a little more automated than constantly surfing Google to monitor it manually.

11. ‘Top Blogs’ lists – There are numerous ‘top blog’ indexes going around. Many see these as pretty egotistical exercises, especially those which only link smaller numbers of bloggers but some can be more useful:

There are also many many other similar pages that attempt to index and rank blogs on different factors – some rank on a topic basis, other on a location basis etc. I personally don’t use these much as an indicator of how my blogs compare with other blogs but check one or two of the above over time to see if my blogs are on the improve or not in the scheme of things.

Another similar system that is not focused solely upon blogs is Alexa.com which has a traffic ranking system (example for ProBlogger).

12. Awards – Blog Awards are everywhere at this time of year and for some are highly important measures of success (although as my recent poll on the topic found – not important for the majority of bloggers).

13. Social Bookmarking - I’m finding in my interactions with bloggers that there is a growing desire to get linked to and ranked well on social bookmarking pages like del.icio.us and digg.com (to name just two). While I wouldn’t use this as a primary measure of success (I think it can become an obsession for some) it CAN be an indicator of success on a more micro level (ie on a post by post level) – although it’s definitely open to manipulation.

14. Frequency of Posts – One of the things that channel editors monitor over at b5media is the number of posts that our bloggers are writing per week and month. While we don’t come down too heavily if targets are not met it does give us an indication of how a blog is going that is often quite insightful on a number of levels. It is sometimes an indicator that something else is not quite right with the blog.

15. Income – IF your goals as a blogger are along the lines of earning an income from your blog – then a pretty obvious indicator of success is the bottom line. There are many ways of measuring income depending upon the income stream.

16. Blogger Profile – I was speaking with one blogger last week who has developed a business blog on his industry (a specialized and very small industry). His blog gets less than 100 visitors per day and earns no direct income – however it is a raging success in the eyes of it’s blogger because he is quickly becoming known as an expert in his industry. His blog will never appear on a ‘top 100 list’ but it’s led him to many opportunities i in his field and has been one of the most worthwhile things he’s ever done in his business.

17. Blogger Passion and Satisfaction – This is one of those that is difficult to measure – but one that I’d rate of great importance. When it comes down to it, if a blogger loses interest and energy for a blog then many of the other areas above are likely to suffer.

18. Other – This list could be many many points longer because for every blog and blogger there is a different set of goals and objectives and for every set of goals and objectives there will be a way of measuring success. I surveyed a couple of other bloggers while writing this post and their own indicators of success included things like:

  • ‘Getting a Book Deal’
  • ‘Picking up Chicks’
  • ‘Getting customers for my business’
  • ‘Having Fun’
  • ‘Networking with Others in my Industry’
  • ‘Learning about my topic of Interest’

I’m sure that many of you will have others I’ve not mentioned here – so I’ll ask the question…

How do you measure success on your blog?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Marc says:

    I think the personal goals of the blogger should be in the list as well. Perhaps he/she is the only one who can measure the success of the weblog, because the author is the only one who knows these goals (unless they are being published on the site).

    What I mean to say is, looking at my own blog, I’ll never ever reach the goals your are talking about (top 100 Technorati, a lot of subscribers to my RSS-feed, et cetera). My main goal is to have fun writing a blog now and then, have a small discussion about these blog with the few visitors who will comment to that blog. Mission completed, I would say. Off course it would be nice to have high volumes of comments, great quality comments, massive visitor figures, but it’s not part of my goal or perhaps I should say, I’m not capable to reach these kind of figures. But still I think my blog is a success for me personal because it’s producing fun, interesting conversations, great new websites and webtools during look arround on the Net, et cetera.

  2. Dan says:

    The ‘blogger profile’ option is particularly relevant for political blogs. We have little chance to earn money unless we are huge so we really do this for different reasons.

    So here are three additional goals I will measure my success against:

    to be a better writer;
    to become expert in my chosen niche;
    to parlay a well-known blog into ‘real-world’ career opportunities – print media, for instance.

  3. One of the things that I like to track is the average number of pageviews per visitor. The higher it is, the more ‘sticky’ your site is (in terms of keeping the reader hooked and poking around).

  4. Joe says:

    Hey Darren,

    I think reader interaction on just about any level is the best indicator for me.

    One of the best was last week. I had written and lost a post due to the problems @ Blogger.com. I mentioned it in a subsequent post.

    A reader from Germany (I’m in the US) found the missing post on Bloglines and put it in my comments for me (it’s still not on Blogger).

    Of course, I thanked him publicly on my Blog.

    Pretty cool, huh?
    Joe

  5. Mike says:

    This is a great post!
    I think it is important that the purpose of the blog be mapped to this ‘chinese menu’ of success measurements to come up with the bloggers definition of success.

  6. Sarah Leon says:

    I’ll take numbers 17, 14, 1, 16, and then 15: Passion/satisfaction, posting frequency, traffic, building a profile, and income. I do look at page views and search terms and subscribers and all that, but they are not as important to me in answering the question, “Am I fulfilling my purpose in doing this?”

  7. stackbacks says:

    I measure my success in passion and satisfaction. If I wasn’t excited about my budget system, I wouldn’t blog about it.

    However, the metrics I tend to look at are:

    feedburner subscribers
    unique visitors / day
    income
    comments

    less frequently i check:
    delicious
    incoming links
    search engine placement

  8. David says:

    Early days for me, but my goal is to improve my standing in the industry as an expert.

  9. Dee says:

    Blogger profile is a definite for me. This year I will be judging the 2005 Christy Awards, because my christian fiction blog was so well received.

    I’ve also been asked to speak at writer’s conference, join blog alliances, guest blog on more well known sites, and have gotten many book promotion consulting gigs from it. And now that I have my own domain. I have paid subscribers participating in an online writing workshop this month. Thanks, Darren for providing great tips and ideas.

  10. tanya says:

    One of the ways lately that has been an indicator for me is if “established industry/companies” takes note of my blog. When people start sending me foods to review (I run a healthy food reviews website) and start replying to my emailed questions (which almost never happened before) – I know somehow the blog is making it to the outside world.

  11. And also make sure that your site don’t fall apart often.
    I was checking some of your site and it was not showing up.

  12. Leon says:

    I agree with most of them. Traffic is cheap, as you can get them on traffic exchanges, so I don’t agree with that too much. Most bloggers will never earn an income from blogging. I’ve been blogging for nearly 4 mths now, and have $0.71 in my Adsense account. Still I don’t litter my site with ads, and don’t plug keywords in my posts. I’m in it for the fun. My blog satisfies most of those criteria, so I guess it’s a success.

  13. ‘Picking up Chicks’

    LOL, that’s what I do. Nice thing about being a seduction/dating/flirting blogger is that I can get paid AND laid.

  14. mark says:

    EXCELLENT post!

    How do you measure success on your blog? Well, the more people that join the site I’ve linked too, and do what I’ve informed them, the better the chance for me (and them) to get something big at no cost! :D

    I’ve gotten several people to signup from my blog (I got multiple – same stuff, different site/product), and thanks to Google and MSN (Yahoo! sucks :(), I’m also obtaining excellent ranking for some good keywords. I know this because, right now, I frequently check my stats to see where my referrers come from. I then target my site to new people once I know my site is already doing well somewhere.

    Anyways, I’ve learned some more stuff b/c of your post and I hope to try it out sometime. Thanks!

  15. Absolutely brilliant. I just blogged about your post. Keep these kinda posts always coming in pal!

  16. Aaron says:

    A basic premise we cover in You Can Blog is that no one can define success for a blogger. Only the blogger can, and needs to, define success for themselves. What are the goals? Aspiration? Identify the mission. Figure out what you want to do. Is it to e a Top 100 Technorati blogger? Is it to make $50k+ on blogging? Is it to develop close associates in your field? Maybe just stay connected with your family and friends? Once the definition of success is out there it’s easier to identify way to measure a blog’s success.

    I consider my blog a success at [only] 10,000k uniques a month because I have developed a core of people whom I know I can influence (not manipulate!) and influence is important to me. My definition of success is influence.

    I guess I got a little preachy there. Sorry. :)

  17. Its funny to me that my personal diary blog has been growing with readership in leaps and bounds. My spa blog only gets a hit every now and then. I do get depressed when I put so much work into a blog and nothing happens. No clicks to read it, no clicks on my affiliates, no comments, nothing. I want so much to be able to be a blogger that is indexed and making a little bit (ok a lotta bit) of money from it. ;)

  18. Jaron says:

    For me the measure of a blogs success is the amount of income that it generates. I cant see the point in wasting valuable time writing articles unless your blog pays for its self. Reading blogs where the writer puts across the idea that blogging should be about ideas not profit reminds me of all those morons when I was a teenager who declared that they were not materialistic.

    Just my view… Jaron

  19. Gunther says:

    Very nice post! and I would like to add one more.

    “The degree of influence we make to others life”

    A succesfull blog is a blog that can change somebody perspective, beliefs and actions. Such as his/her perspective about money, about how to make money, how to spend money etc which lead to his/her action.

    Where’s the bible then :smirk:

  20. azul says:

    How to measure a blog’s success:

    How much money it makes.

    That’s all that matters.

  21. One misconception about blogging is if you don’t have a lot of ads, you hold more honorable site. Wrong, you just get paid less. Don’t “litter” it with ads everywhere, but put a lot of well placed ads on the site.

  22. Shane Hudson says:

    These are all very important exercises that I am working on myself!

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  1. [...] Darren Rowse of ProBlogger wrote an interesting post about the measure of success for a blog. [...]

  2. [...] Darren @ Problogger came up with this brilliant post that bowled me over and I love it. Thought I should share some of the stuff with you people. Be sure to check out the full post. Credit:: Problogger. [...]

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