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:
- Technorati have a ‘top 100‘ but also rank all blogs in their index
- Blog Pulse have a top 40 blogs list also and also have different ranks for all blogs
- Feedster has a top 500 list.
- Truth laid bear has a number of lists including their famous ecosystem (which indexes thousands of blogs), their traffic ranking list and a top post list.
- Bloglines has a top blogs list
- Daypop has a top Weblogs page
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.
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?