Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How to evaluate a blog


Being able to evaluate the influence and reach of a blog is an important skill for a communications professional. It is beneficial to know the possible affect of a blog publishing a mention about a brand, sharing a promotion or how many people can legitimately be reached through advertising on that blog.

Evaluating a blog can be broken down to three primary areas:
  • Traffic/Reach
  • Community Culture
  • Content
Traffic/Reach

The traffic and potential reach for a blog centers around metrics of unique visitors, visits and page views. Some blogs make this very easy by coding in a public site meter of some sort. Gathering metrics for blogs that don’t have this is a little bit more difficult, but there are tools than can give a fairly accurate estimate.

Site meter or stat counter icons on a blog will usually be in a side bar or bottom task bar and will look like this:


They offer all the cursory information needed, as well as the ability to dive deeper into who is visiting the blog. Site meter allows for analysis of visitors by:
  • geographic location
  • specific IP address
  • referring URLs
  • entry pages
  • out-clicks

If a blog doesn’t have a site meter of some kind, universal tracking tools will need to be employed to estimate traffic and reach:

Alexa Ranking:

The Alexa Ranking is derived from the millions upon millions of people using a toolbar with an Alexa component. Alexa tracks which sites these people visit and produces a ranking of all websites. This is one of the only universal ranking systems for sites. It is important to note that the lower the Alexa ranking the better. #1 would be the absolute best Alexa ranking.

Compete:

Compete uses a panel of over 2 million people across the United States. They combine internet activity and survey responses from the population used in their data. The population is comprised of a cross-section of Americans that represent the greatest variety of people possible. Compete uses this group to estimate site traffic using methodology that normalizes for lurking variables. Most sites, but not all register with Compete. If a site doesn’t register it simply means that it is not statistically relevant enough and therefore probably doesn’t generate a significant amount of traffic.

You can measure domains without creating an account, but in order to measure subdomains like xxxxx.blogspot.com, you will have to create a user name and password. Compete provides metrics for unique visitors, visits, an overall ranking and a graph that charts visitors by month.

Community Culture

Engagement numbers are integral to understanding community culture. In most industries, it is these numbers that are the true indicators of the power of a blog to influence its readers. Tools like Post Rank can show the number of engagement points for a site, including number of comments, number of times a link is shared on a social bookmarking site and link sharing on Twitter. This is a great tool to demonstrate the engagement on a blog’s community, but not all blogs register.

If the blog you are interested in measuring doesn’t register with Post Rank, you will have to collect this information manually. It is easy to gain an understanding of the average number of comments per post by averaging the number of comments per post for the last 10-20 posts, but be sure to look at the comment section to weed out comments by the blogger. In many cases you will find the blogger is actually the most active commenter and including their comments will skew the engagement numbers.

You can search a domain name or subdomain name within each social bookmarking site’s search box. The most pertinent social bookmarking sites include:

Content

Evaluating content is completely subjective. You will need to review the content based on your own criteria and goals. It is important to align yourself with blogs that publish content you would be willing to share and direct people towards, since you will likely link share with them on a semi-regular basis.

2 comments:

Debbie Ferm said...

Hi Jake,

I found your blog through Brazen Careerist, and think it's great. Very helpful to people trying to get a handle on social media.

Thanks!

Debbie Ferm

Jake Rosen on January 5, 2010 at 9:15 AM said...

Debbie,

Thanks for you comment and praise. I'm definitely looking forward to talking social media with you in the future.

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Who? Why?

Social media often becomes a rat race. Who has the newest technology? Who has the most friends or followers? This blog is designed to slow it down a little and remind people that at its core, social media is about relationships and conversations.

Jake Rosen
Managing Supervisor, Fleishman-Hillard
jake.a.rosen@gmail.com

The content on this site reflects my own opinions and not necessarily those of my employer.

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