March 21, 2012

How popular is your blog?

Now that we are in the ‘business’ of examining blogs in detail for many years, we can claim to have experience much beyond many webmasters, web experts and bloggers. As we promised sometime ago, we are starting a series on matters relating to blog popularity and SEO. This first post is on mapping your blog’s [or website’s] popularity.

What measures popularity of your blog?


Simply said, a blog is popular if it attracts a large number of visitors. In numerical terms, this is measured in terms of traffic, and ‘page views’ is a good measure of traffic. 
Another way of looking at popularity is to see what placing the blog gets on search result pages [=SERP] when people search for a relevant keyword. 
A popular blog is also the one which is favourably cross-linked in other blogs / sites / directories / social networks. 
If your blog is followed on social media and is subscribed to by many, it shows that the blog is popular. Similarly, being mentioned or quoted or upvoted on social networking / bookmarking sites can be a good measure of the blog's popularity.
The number of genuine comments that your blog posts regularly get also indicates your popularity.

Some big web organisations have developed proprietary tools that measure a website’s popularity, e.g Google PageRank [=PR] and Alexa Rank. Online bookmarking / social networking sites such as Digg, StumbleUpon and Facebok also give a measure of a blog’s popularity based on visitors’ ‘sharing’, ‘likes’, ‘following’ etc.  Technorati assigns Authority to blogs based on its own rating logic and also ranks them according to popularity. Many region / language specific portals also measure website / blog popularity based on different parameters.

You can open an account with Google webmaster tools or Bing webmaster tools to have detailed reports on not only blog traffic but many other aspects of your website’s working. You can also go for QuantCast and Compete to track your blog's performance but if your blog is not in multi-thousand pageviews category, they may not give you correct reports. A number of traffic measuring tools are freely available on the web, some also as a widget on the blog.

Is your blog popular enough?


You must have come across some very popular websites, such as those dealing with travel bookings and news sites, and mega portals. These are popular because people need to visit them for information or services. Individual bloggers are not likely to have energy and resources to match them. Yet, some blogs are much more popular than others and some claim to be getting many thousand visitors a day.

During our blogosphere surveys, we have found the following types of blogs quite popular: celbrity blogs, blogs of newspaper columnists and channel anchors, blogs as part of vibrant communities and technology blogs. Long-standing and regularly updated blogs in all categories tend to be more popular than new and irregular blogs. Blogs with superb content are often cross-referenced and quoted, and in long run keep getting high-quality traffic. 

But only good content and blog design are not enough to get hordes of visitors to the blog. Whether you like it or not, you need to do some SEO to come high on SERP and thus get new visitors, which otherwise would take a long time. We have compiled posts on best practices in SEO in this link.

Coming specifically to a blog's popularity, it would be a good idea to check it against the top blog in your category. You can then take the required steps. For example, you might find that not many people comment on your blog while they interact greatly in that blog, or your blog has a very low placing on Google search pages for a desirable keyword. In the first case, you would like to increase interaction on other similar blogs and quickly respond to comments. In the second case, you could think of putting those keywords in your posts and doing search optimisation.

So what is the take-away from this short discussion?

We’d talk about other aspects of blog popularity in subsequent posts on domain naming etc. For now, let's conclude with some sensible and practical suggestions for improving your blog’s popularity without it losing authority and respectability: 
  • Give your blog a relevant URL, an associated title and a presentable description. In an already running blog, you may not have the liberty to change the URL, but why not tweak the title and description?
  • Post regularly.
  • Post with authority on the subject. Don't try to look expert; gain expertise if you don't have.
  • If you have a personal blog, write in lucid style and give your first hand impressions.
  • Interact with those who make valuable comments on your blog.
  • Popularise the blog and/or individual posts among people who’d appreciate them. This includes relatives, friends, colleagues, email friends and social network friends.
  • Don't hesitate to do a bit of  search engine optimisation or SEO. It is not technical or tough, but can be very rewarding.