How successful is your blog?
You created your blog, and write posts, write posts, write posts… Gradually, your audience grows. You get comments, get other bloggers linking to you,… Your blog has a lift-off. But how much of a lift-off? Are you flying in orbit, or are you barely clearing the tree tops? How do you measure your blog’s performance. How do you keep track of it?
Success is in the eye of the beholder
What means “success” to you? Are you writing for a selective public? Then reaching those handful would mean accomplishment for you. Are your goals accomplished having created a small working community around your project blog? Good for you. Or are you already happy just to have a medium where you can post stuff, and can refer to if you get questions about your organisation? Ride on!
But.. if you are a main stream blogger, you will need more than that. You will want more than just a handful of visitors per day. You will want more than one comment per week. What tools are around to keep track of how well you are doing?
1. Your site statistics
Google Analytics is your main partner here. You will want the number of your visitors to go up, as your blog gets its place in the blogosphere. To get a good overview, select a large period, e.g. a year, as the statistics period, and click on either the ‘week’ or ‘month’ icon. If you see a graph like this, then you are good:
Your visitors per month keep on growing steadily. You might, as in this graph, see some peaks for “hit posts” you wrote, but these are just ‘hits of the day’. The main body of the graph should steadily go up.
For the same period, look at the amount of new visitors versus returning visitors. You are aiming at the highest possible “returning visitors”.
If you are pretty active in social bookmarking sites, you will see loads of new visitors, of which the majority will not return. In that case, I would say if your returning visitors are above 15% of your total, you are doing fine.
If you don’t promote your site on any social bookmarking sites, your returning visitors should be significantly higher. And you will want to have them grow.
Another significant measure is your “bounce rate”, amount of people leaving your site after the first page they read. You will want to keep them as low as possible. Once more, if you have a lot of new visitors, rather than returning visitors, chances are your bounce rate will be high. Aim for something like 85%. This means you are seducing 15% of your readers to read more than one page.
If you are more active on social sites, your bounce rate will be higher.
The last significant parameter is “pages per visit”. You would this figure to be high, and to go up, as it shows your site is “inviting” and “interesting” enough for people to browse through it. Over time, an average of 2 pages per visit or higher is a good average.
Read also this series on “understanding your blog traffic” to get a clearer view on which statistics parameters are important to keep an eye on.
2. Your pagerank
In short, your Google PageRank (PR) is a a rating (between PR0 and PR10 on an logarithmic scale) of ‘how valuable’ your site is to the web community. The higher a PageRank, the better and the higher up your site will feature on a Google search. If you don’t know what your PageRank is, try this tool.
In a previous post, I did a survey of 200 nonprofit blogs, and mapped out their PageRank, so you can see where you are in the NonProfit blogosphere.
However, don’t get desillusioned. Of the 200 blogs I surveyed, there were some serious heavy hitters, so you might end up rather low amongst your peers. So let me put this in context for a moment:
First of all, your blog has to be active for a couple of months, before it is pageranked. And often you will start at the lower end. If your blog has been around for a year, though, your PageRank should be stable and related to “what you deserve”.
I have several blogs. Some of them I only created for tests and never touched again. They are pageranked PR2. Some I use to publish one book and never update them again. They typically get a PR3. Some I occasionally post something, and they get a PR4. One, my personal blog, I am very active on. I do a good deal of promotion through social media, and stretch it as far as I can, for a personal blog. It has a PR6.
So I would conclude: if your blog has a PageRank of 4 you are kinda ok. If you are at 6 or higher, you can tap yourself on the back.
While visitors and pageranking are core figures, let’s have a look at some fun (for geeks, I admit) detailed figures to see how well your blog is doing.
In the links below, I will use my own blog as measure. Click on the link and put your own URL in the search box to see your ‘score’.
- Google backlink checker checks all mentions of your blog on the Internet.
- Even more relevant are the Google backlinks counted for pageranking
- You can also do a Google Blog search to see how many times your blog has been linked to by other blogs.
- If you followed my advice in this post, and subscribed to the webmaster utilities from Google and Bing, you will find more detailed link statistics.
Not only are these backlinks important for your Google Pagerank, but while checking them, you will see who else is blogging about you (well, about your blog), or mentioning your site. So, the higher, the better you blog is performing.
4. Some all-in-one tools
There are two free web-based tools I use to track the performance of my blogs. They give you an overall performance figure based on a series of statistics.
- WebSiteGrader takes into account your backlinks, your Technorati and Alexa ratings. My top blog hits 99.5%, which means it it is in the top 0.5% of all blogs rated. How is yours coming out?
- Try Trifecta for another “all-in-one” rating tool. My main PR6 blog hits 40%. So that is a good measure
5. Keeping track of your blog performance
It is not only important to have a high rating, or to have many backlinks, but also to improve over time. I keep track of all figures in a spreadsheet (I know, I am a fanatic). I run all statistics once every two weeks, note them down and chart them in a graph.
This way, I get an overview of how my blog is doing. It is also an internal stimulus to pick up if things are slacking (and yes, I am competitive).
But with all of those figures whizzing around your head, don’t loose track of your main focus: blogging is supposed to be fun, witty, creative. Blogging for a nonprofit cause is all about advocacy, getting a message out, trying to do better in the world. And no figure in the universe should take that fun away!
Picture courtesy AllPosters.com