A Blog’s success
In the long run, writing a personal blog requires blood, sweat and tears – it’s hard work and the rewards can be engaging conversation, general awareness or the sheer pleasure of being social – sharing knowledge and helping people. For a business blog the purpose can vary from getting closer to the customers, getting direct feedback, creating brand awareness and brand identity or simply being cool and hip.
What ever the blog’s purpose, measuring its success will ensure that the blog is reaching the right audience and the effort being put into writing the blog is warranted. And for the business blog measuring its success gives an idea of whether the investment pays off. Blogs exist to have conversation with readers and readers like fresh relevant content. Otherwise, with no conversation the blog is just a normal website.
However, it can be difficult to accurately measure success, for example, different blogs have different purposes and the sheer diversity of blogs makes it hard to measure success. Further, the normal concept of a blog as a website might not make sense since most blogs supports RRS feeds – the reader don’t have to visit the blog to read posts, but gets the post through the feed. Are subscribers to RRS feeds readers or visitor to a blog. Also, it makes no sense talking about a webpage since a blog consist of 8-10 resent posts on the homepage – which one was “read”?
Blog benchmark figures are difficult to find. The best way to determine benchmarks for any particular blog is to analyze similar blogs with similar subject matter.
To measure a blog’s success analyze these general critical and existential questions:
• What have the blogger actually contributed with?
• Is anyone consuming the blog’s content?
• Are the blog reaching the right audience?
• Are visitors engaging in the conversation?
• Are the blog getting any awareness?
• What are the blog’s cost and return of investment?
• How to benchmark?
1. Bloggers contribution
A key indicator of a blog’s success is the bloggers contribution. More content – the volume of posts and words per post – equals more opportunity to be found online and therefore more traffic. Is the post frequency stable? Your visitors want to know what to expect, and will be more likely to visit if you keep a regular post schedule. Get the following key data on the blog’s activity:
• Number of author(s)
• Number of posts
• Number of months blogging
• Number of comments
• Number of words in each post
• Number of words in comments
• Number of words in pages
Bloggers contribution is measured by:
• Average number of posts per month
• Average number of words per post
Analyze bloggers contribution metrics over time and if possible benchmark against your competitors to measure the blog’s success. The goal is increasing trends over time.
2. Blog conversation rate
A blogs exist to engage in a conversation with readers. The simplest conversation form is readers comments on the blog. Use these two indicators as a measurement of readers engagement – the volume of comments posted by visitors:
• Average number of comments per post without your own comments
• Average number of words used in comments to posts
Make your own benchmark over time for the blog conversation rate to measure the blog’s success. If possible benchmark against your competitors. The goal is a increasing trend over time.
Note: Pay attention to comments, since some comments can be negative and personal, but most tend to offer new ideas or ways to improve your blog. Engage in the dialogue and respond to issues or questions.
3. Blog trackbacks/pingbacks rate
The conversation may also take form via posts on readers blogs – sending you tracebacks – a link with a short excerpt of your entry will appear on the referenced blog or by sending you pingbacks – when someone create a link to your blog within a post or page, then you blog will get a ping.Trackbacks and pingbacks are an excellent way to build links and traffic to your blog, as well as building relationships with other bloggers. Trackbacks and pingbacks are a courtesy tap on the bloggers shoulder and self promotion in one, the metrics are measured by:
• Average number of trackbacks per post
• Average number of pingbacks per post
Analyze the blog’s trackbacks/pingbacks rate over time and if possible benchmark against your competitors to measure the blog’s success. The goal is increasing trends over time.
4. Content consumption metrics
Knowing how many people visited the blog is important but it’s also important to know who visited. Also measure the number of subscribers, thus helping bloggers evaluate the effectiveness of their content – whether anyone is reading the content.
Analyze month by month:
• Number of visitors
• Number of unique visitors
• Average numbers of daily feed subscribers (email and RRS)
• Numbers of unique blog readers (unique visitors+daily feed subscribers)
The combination of these key indicators allow you to track your success by measuring the overall readers of the blog and these indicators have to grow month by month as a measure of success. Set up goals for content consumption metrics over time to evaluate return of investment.
5. Technorati Rank and Technorati Authority
Technorati Authority measures a site’s standing and influence in the blogosphere. Technorati Authority basically measure linking behavior from blogs and posts in the same blog category and how well a blog’s overall content matches the blog category. Authority is measured on a scale of 0-1000. 1000 is the highest possible authority.
Technorati Rank is a site’s rank among the Technorati Authority of all sites. 1 is the highest rank. Technorati also determine topical ranks within categories, based on the topical Technorati Authority. As sites’ Technorati Authority changes over time, ranks will also change.
• Technorati Rank
• Technorati Authority
The Technorati ranking is a way to benchmark your blogger progress against your competitors. And also a way to measure your success in creating “influence” and whether you are making a difference in the blogosphere.
In short, the more relevant content, the more contributing, the more links to your site, the more popular and influential your site…The higher your Technorati rank.
The blog’s Technorati ranking should increase over time and if possible benchmark against your competitors to measure the blog’s success.
6. Social media sharing
How many of your blog posts were reposted to social networking sites? Reposting allows people reading a blog to add a link to their Facebook or Twitter account. This is one of the most important social media measurements because it shows how many people actually cared enough about what you had to say to result in some kind of action.
Number of shared post through different social media channels:
• Number of reposting on Twitter
• Number of reposting on Facebook
• Number of reposting via email
• Number of reposting via Google plus one
• Number of reposting via LinkedIn
Analyze the trend of reposting through social media over time and if possible benchmark against your competitors. A rising trend shows more visitors engagement, more social media reach and more blog success.
7. Social media followers
If your blog is connected to a Facebook Fan page or/and to a Twitter page i.e. posts are published on your Facebook page and/or twitter page, you can have followers. To mitigate the potential for duplication of users, track growth rate as a percentage of the aggregate totals.
• Twitter followers
On Twitter track followers and the number of followers for those who retweeted your message to determine the monthly potential reach. You should track these separately and then compare the month-over-month growth rate of each of these metrics so you can determine where you’re seeing the most growth.
• Facebook followers
On Facebook track the total number of followers. In addition, review the number of followers from those who became followers during a specified period of time and those who commented on or liked your posts to identify the potential monthly Facebook reach.
Track your social media followers over time and if possible benchmark against your competitors. A rising trend shows more visitors engagement, more social media reach and more blog success.
8. Other metrics
Depending on the type of blog – you might offer white papers to download or being a top blogger with substantial traffic – there are other metrics to consider:
• Time spent on blog
• Bounce rate
• Number of interactions – videos viewed, games played etc.
• Number of downloads
• Link tracking of cross-site usage
• Google Page Rank
• Alexa Rank
• Indexed Pages
• DMoz Listing
• Quantcast Rank
Again, analyze the trend of these metrics over time and if possible benchmark against your competitors to measure the blog’s success.
9. Measure blog’s cost and ROI
Any blog can be measured in terms of cost and return of investment. For a personal blog, it’s good to know where you stand – is it worth blogging or should you spend time on something else? For a business blog you have to justify the blog’s existence – the return of investment.
The cost of a blog in terms of hardware and software are relative low. For a personal blog hardware is the cost of a PC, the software is free (wordpress.org or blogger.com) and the hosting cost are low around $2 per month or even free at third parties. The largest cost is the investment of time and resources to create, maintain and publicize the blog.
Estimated the cost of the blog. To calculate the blog’s ROI, you need to know the value of the blog. There are online tools to estimate blog value, for example, blogcalculator.com, myblogvalue.com and dnscoop.com.
• Blog ROI = estimated blog worth/ estimated blog cost = $X (A return of $X for every dollar invested).
If you have blog advertising revenue include these revenues in the estimated blog worth. Also estimate the value personal offers such as jobs offers, conference invitations, newspapers interviews etc.
For a business blog there might be more factors to include in the blog’s worth. For example, the estimate value of:
• Third-party advertising – revenue from third-party advertising
• Own advertising – value of cost per click (CPC) or cost per 1000 impression (CPM)
• Lead generation – value of collected leads off the blog
• Traffic conversion rate – traffic from blog to website
• PR generated by the blog
• Brand awareness created by the blog
• Improved customer satisfaction
• Newsletters sign-ups
• Number of times a post was shared via social media
Over time estimate blog worth and measure ROI as a metric of blog success. Is the trend going up or down? – is the blog worth the effort?
10. Blog benchmark figures
Generally, a good blogger have high numbers in blogger contribution, conversation rate, trackbacks/pingbacks rate, content consumption and social media reach. Most important is to observe trends for these metrics and increasing numbers over time means a more and more successful blog. The best way to determine benchmarks for any particular blog is to analyze similar blogs with similar subject matter. For the average blog, there are some realistic benchmarks for success:
According to a Technorati article: How Frequently To Post Articles? The statistics from Technorati shows a clearly correlate frequency of posting with success/authority of your blog. The blogging elite tend to post close to twice a day. The middle group (post nearly every day) which posts 50% more frequently than the low group (post every 2,5 day) but having about the same age, there is a clear correlation between posting volume and Technorati authority ranking. By comparing the blogging elite and the middle group, it appears that sheer dedication pays off over time.
According to a Search Engine People article: Business Blog Benchmarks. They argue for the following average benchmarks:
• Small Business Blog = 1,000 to 2,000 visitors per month
• Mid Sized Business = 10,000 – 20,000 visitors per month
• Large Sized business = 50,000 to 100,000 blog visitors per month
• Bounce rate below 20% to be excellent and over 60% to be fairly high
• Time spent on blog average 1.5 to 2 minutes. 4-5 minutes is quite good for a blog
• If traffic is spending more than 3 minutes per visit and are visiting more than one post at a time, then your blog content is engaging
• A new business blog should routinely get between 5 and 10 comments per post
To evaluate a blog’s success measure key factors and observe their trends month by month.
Blog conversation rate
Blog trackbacks/pingbacks rate
Content consumption metrics
Technorati Rank and Technorati Authority
Social media sharing
Social media followers
Estimate blog worth and measure ROI
Increasing trends over time means higher blog success rate.
The best benchmarks is to compare your blog’s performance to similar blogs. This will give you an idea of whether you are successful in your corner of the blogosphere. Set your success goals, measure the blog’s current success and compare with the desired success to answer questions that allow you to take action: Do more of something or less of something, test ideas and then take action. All observations shows that as long as you bring great content and a consistent effort the more likely it’s that your blog will be a success. Keep up the good work!
Search Engine People – Business Blog Benchmarks