My Top 5 Metrics Tools for Evaluating Blogs

by Joel Friedlander on November 18, 2013 · 12 comments

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You’ve decided to start blogging to get some marketing traction before your next book comes out. If you’re a nonfiction author, or a fiction author who already has a readership, that’s an excellent idea.

In fact, I think it’s about the best thing you can do for yourself to make sure that your books and your ideas reach a wide audience, and that you have a chance to be compensated for all the work you’ve put into publishing.

After all, if you can make your books (and other products and services) pay, you’ll do more, right? And being able to continue will allow you to help more people? See, it’s a win-win if you can make this work.

What? I Have to Market the Blog, Too?

Even when I get authors to buy into the idea I just stated, they look a bit confused. Even authors who have been blogging for years sometimes have never thought of this one essential truth:

If you don’t market your blog, how will anyone know it’s there?

(And yes, “marketing-haters,” here’s one more task you think you can get away from if you just ignore. But I’m here to tell you that’s just not true.

Besides, marketing your blog will give you great market intelligence that will be absolutely crucial when it comes to launch your books.

In fact, there are a lot of great things you can get from marketing your blog:

  • Finding readers—you’ll need to know what your readers are reading, where they are hanging out
  • Identifying problems—every problem your readers are having is an opportunity for you
  • Networking—it takes a village to launch a book, and getting to know your niche is essential
  • List building—you probably already know that turning your blogging and publishing into a sustainable business depends on building an email list
  • Earning passive income—getting more readers means you can make money from ads and affiliate sales, automatically
  • Gaining trust and authority—getting known in your field is vital to building preeminence

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. And the idea is that it’s not enough to just write a great blog. If you want to reap the benefits of all that hard work, you have to market the blog, too.

The Beginning of Blog Marketing


I could fill a book (watch for it) with practical information on how to market your blog.

But when I talk to authors about how to get started, the first question I ask them is this:

“If I asked, could you tell me the top 5 or top 10 blogs in your field?”

Every blogger who has built a readership can answer, “Yes, you bet I can!” to this question. Authors? Not so much.

And inevitably, the next question is, “Well, how do I find that out?”

And it’s a good question. How do you identify the top blogs in your niche, category, or genre? The ones that ir really makes sense to follow, connect to, the ones who have already solved the problem you are now faced with?

To help you answer that, here are my 5 favorite tools for analyzing blogs I visit. To be clear, these aren’t the only things to take into account. But when you’re looking at a blog you’ve never seen before, this is where you can start.

My Top 5 Tools for Evaluating Blogs

  1. Alexa Rank—There are no perfect measurements of blog traffic that I’ve found, but the rankings from Alexa.com are the closest to a standard. You can surf over to their site and input a domain name, and Alexa will return a ranking number (smaller is better) and lots of other information on the site. These numbers are good for comparison, and should be taken with some skepticism but, by and large, they do seem to be accurate.
  2. Google page rank—You can use sites like http://www.page-rank-calculator.com/ to check a site’s page rank, or you can install a browser plugin like WebRankSEO for Google Chrome and get the Alexa rank, page rank, and a bunch of other metrics instantly right in your browser. Page rank is another good comparison tool, although very new sites will likely have no page rank for a few months after launch.
  3. Twitter followers—Twitter’s @addresses are becoming a de facto standard for identifying people in the social space. Virtually every blogger is on Twitter, so it’s easy to find out what kind of platform they have there.
  4. Alltop—This is a highly selective list of the top blogs in specific categories. Because each entry is hand selected and vetted by actual real live people, inclusion in Alltop conveys a good deal of authority for the blogs included.
  5. Blog metrics—Visiting the blog, there are some very important things you can see from a quick inspection. The ones I pay most attention to are:
    • Post frequency—when were the last few posts, and how often does the blogger post new content? More active and more current blogs are better candidates for networking.
    • Comments—are readers engaging with the content, talking about it in the comments? And when they do, does the blogger respond? You can’t always expect bloggers to answer every question, particularly on older articles, but do they seem to care?
    • Subscribers—it’s not always easy to tell how many subscribers a blog has unless they tell you, and it’s impossible to know how big their email list is, because most people guard that kind of information. But what I’m looking for is whether they have sign ups, and how actively they seem to be encouraging people to sign up. Offering free downloads, courses, or bonuses in exchange for a subscription will tell you that the blogger is serious about building a list.

Some people use blog directories like Technorati, or supposed “social influence” measurements like Klout, but these 5 are the ones I rely on.

Armed with intelligence like this, you’ll soon find out who are the leaders in your field, and which ones are responsive, active bloggers with a real audience.

When it comes time for you to start actively marketing your own blog, submitting guest articles, doing a virtual book tour, or just about any other marketing you’ll be doing in the future, you’ll be doing it with the help of the bloggers you’ve first identified using these kinds of metrics.

For more on blog marketing, stay tuned.

Do you have questions about marketing your own blog? Leave them in the comments and I bet we can help.

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    { 10 comments… read them below or add one }

    Pramesh Pudasaini May 16, 2014 at 1:01 am

    Thanks for the good overview and great tips. I wanted to ask if Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools show correct data regarding visitors, clicks and impressions.

    Reply

    Lavonda August 25, 2014 at 6:34 am

    Amazing blog! Do you have any ips for aspiring writers?

    I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost
    on everything. Would you propose starting with a free platform
    like Wordpress or go for a paid option? There are so many optijons out there that I’m completely overwhelmed ..
    Any tips? Thanks!

    Reply

    Jennifer Mattern November 19, 2013 at 4:22 am

    I’d be careful about relying on Alexa. They’re well known in the online business world as being the most inaccurate of the lot. That’s because results are skewed based on who has Alexa’s toolbar installed, making rankings skew heavily toward tech and marketing-related companies and sites. While they might get the biggest sites on the Web right, or close to right, they have no real authority when it comes to smaller sites like author blogs.

    If you really want to dig into stats for your blog (or better yet, your competitors’), I recommend using a more comprehensive market research tool. Some of the best are listed below. I believe they all offer free trials for anyone wanting to check them out:

    – Moz.com (they have several important tools, but Open Site Explorer is the best starting point)

    – Ahrefs.com

    – MajesticSEO.com

    These tools let you evaluate your search engine rankings, monitor social media shares, track backlinks to see what your most linked to content is, monitor which content is bringing in the most readers, etc. And they’re some of the best tools for evaluating overall blogs in a niche, and even running side-by-side comparisons. Worth taking a look if you haven’t tried them yet.

    Reply

    Marialena November 19, 2013 at 1:35 am

    Thanks for a great overview of metric tools for blogs! My blog is so new that alexa doesn’t find me. Ah well… I appreciate your tips and comments, especially as I start my dive into social media. It is time consuming of course, but I find I’m learning a lot. Twitter alone is abubble with fascinating links.

    Again, thanks for all your posts on how to navigate the waters!

    Reply

    Tina Chan November 18, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    Nice article–Wondering how can I find more readers for my blog (I run a book review blog)
    Also, is Google Analytic accurate? I get different stats for my blog between Google Analytic and Blogger.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander November 18, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Hi Tina,

    There are lots of analytics packages out there, including the ones service providers make available. Every one will report differently, sometimes wildly so. I decided to just stick with Google Analytics because I figure if Google doesn’t know web traffic, who does? Also, for a free program it’s unbelievably deep. So that’s my standard, and this way it’s easy to compare different sites if you always use GA to compare.

    There are a lot of articles on getting and retaining readers. Have a look through this list of articles on blogging.

    Reply

    Dan Erickson November 18, 2013 at 5:53 am

    No questions. I’m sure I’m not doing some things right, though. But I’ve found the amount of time it takes me to attempt to market my blog is not compatible with holding a full-time job and being a single dad. I’ve decided to intentionally market less.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander November 18, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Dan, I get that problem, and you certainly have your hands full. It’s one reason why in recent years I’ve focused on finding ways to use social media and blogging that don’t take very much time. (Not much I can do about how long it takes to write, though.) My blog marketing regimen is about 20 minutes a day, and I recently described my method for How to Build an Awesome and Relevant Twitter Following in 6 Minutes a Day.

    Reply

    Greg Strandberg November 18, 2013 at 4:50 am

    Lots of good tips here. I hadn’t checked Alexa for awhile so cruised over there.

    My ESL site isn’t doing too hot – it’s almost 14 million and has no US rank. My main writing website was at about 370,000 in the US however, which might seem pretty bad but it’s a huge jump from where it was before. I was quite surprised, and that made me feel pretty good.

    Now if I could just say the same for my email list.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander November 18, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Greg, 370,000 isn’t too shabby, and you should be pretty pleased with the traffic you’re getting. The signal for me is when I see sites with an Alexa over 1,000,000, then I know (from experience) that traffic is light.

    Reply

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