Does Blog Rank Mean Anything: Seven Pros and Cons

techrank This week the Buzz Bin achieved a top 20,000 ranking in Technorati, a measurement based on how blogs link to you. The top 20k ranking has been a goal since March, when the blog changed its name from Diary of an Ad Man to the Buzz Bin and was ranked at 300K+. But what does the actual ranking mean?

Before we examine impact, several people have asked me how we did it. My thank you post tomorrow on the Buzz Bin will lay-out the exact steps taken to achieve this benchmark.

But more importantly for businesses, what does blog rank on Technorati or the Ad Age 150 mean in the grand scheme of things?

1) Not much: My old Managing Editor Andrea Knotts Bona at the now defunct CommunicationsNow oft reminded me you are only as good as your last story. It’s easy to rest on your laurels, but that is a sure fire way to lose daily traffic and RSS subs. A blog is only as good as its most recent contributions to its readership.

2) Links-to do can, but do not necessarily, denote a good blog. Links to are often acknowledgement of good content. They can also result from negative blog posts (not in this case, but you get the point). So if a blog is linked to because it is negative or controversial, its measurement is not an indicator of valuable content. Sift through the links over a period of time to ensure they are positive.

3) RSS subs and daily traffic are much better measurements of blog performance. All of these supposed rankings vary on benchmarks (for example links to the blog) that may or may not reflect actual performance. Performance is determined by readers (who, how many, are they the right people). Google Analytics (a conservative measurement) and FeedBurner are your friends.

4) Links-to do mean something from a search engine optimization (SEO) standpoint. The more blogs that link to you the better your search performance. For example, consider s.technorati. To qualify as most influential you need approximately 160-170 blogs linking to you. To me, this is the most value our Technorati “ranking” offers.

5) Perception is great. For example, our Technorati rank enables me to tell prospects in Washington that we have the highest ranked independent PR blog in DC (One local Ogilvy blog is higher). So it equals good PR.

6) Perception is great, but not real. For example, The Buzz Bin has a terrible Ad Age rank of 230+. That’s because the metrics used don’t reflect actual readership, rather Bloglines subs.

There are many, great active Bloglines readers, there are also many dormant ones (I have a dormant account) due to a competitive RSS marketplace. The Buzz Bin became popular after Bloglines lost readership, so Bloglines only represents 4-6 percent of our readership on a day-to-day basis. The Ad Age 150 perception is so bad, and is so distant from what I believe our actual marketplace ranking would be that I’ve asked Ad Age’s Charles Moran to de-list the Buzz Bin.

7) Something to benchmark. In the end, marketing folks are statistic junkies. We love measurement… And we love our rankings. So from a gamesmanship standpoint, why not?

What’s next for the Buzz Bin? We hope to break the top twenty on the Friendly Ghost’s PR blog rankings in the next four to six months. Wish us luck!

11 Replies to “Does Blog Rank Mean Anything: Seven Pros and Cons”

  1. Congrats Geoff. But T’rati is a cruel mistress.

    I was thrilled when my blog was in the Top 10,000 and crushed as it sank into the 14,000 zone where it now resides — all in the span of 2 months or so.

    As the blogosphere grows with more and more legit blogs (i.e., blogs whose caretakers truly invest in cultivating their presence vs. sample & abandon), these rankings will be tough to maintain. I like to joke that if there were 20,000 blogs about Lindsay Lohan, my blog would no doubt be sunk in the 40,000 zone: the stuff that you & I and our peers blog about are really of interest to a select group, when ya think about it.

    Anyway, you’ve made outrageous strides since you kicked this blog into gear. Truly impressive. Congratulations!

  2. I would think twice about de-listing.

    1) Scrolling through the rankings and seeing that disparity would be enough to give me pause. If everyone with a low Bloglines pulse dropped out, the metric would not expose its flaw.

    2) Being on the list gets you into the Ad Age 150 OPML file. As more non-tech-savvy communicators and businesses start to come around, they’ll see the value in importing the entire list. Mike Driehorst commented yesterday that the real value of Social Media is the rich data to mine. Steve Rubel is re-adding feeds he doesn’t read, just so he can use the new Google Reader search function.

    I admire your stand, but consider all the ramifications.

  3. @Todd Thanks, man. I appreciate it. You are right, Technorati Is a cruel mistress and it is also non-discriminating in its judgment — good links, bad links, good content, bad content. Let’s just hope no more Britney – Lindsay – Paris ententes happen!

    @Ike Too late, brother. The Buzz Bin is de-listed. I have to look at the benefits of branding at #23x versus the OPML file. I honestly get 3-5 clicks a week from Ad Age, and feel like I can make that up pretty easily.

  4. I have mixed feelings about rankings. I’ve never worried too much about them. but I have to admit getting a kick when my blog “makes it” onto a good list.

    I agree that the Ad Age reliance on BlogLines may favor blogs with longevity. Most of my RSS readers are using Google and Netvibes, not Bloglines. I also wonder about the value judgment score, as I have noticed blogs shifting focus, posting more or less original content, but the value scores remain unchanged.

    But I don’t fuss about any of this too much. Do what you love and the readers will follow.

  5. Hey Geoff; This post made me interested to see how Bloglines affected my traffic. I took a sample since January of this year, to be fair for all of the different months. Bloglines brought me slightly fewer readers than Google, but it was still my second largest referral traffic. I realize this is coming from someone benefiting from the longevity equation that Susan so rightly points out, but still, it seems Bloglines is not totally irrelevant.

    As for Susan’s concern, the subjective rating is still done by ToddAnd. If you see something amiss just shoot him an e-mail. Get in touch with me directly if you need it.

    It wasn’t all that long ago that I was “new” at blogging and have managed to move into these lists somewhere in the magic middle.

    And Todd, I feel your pain, it seems I go in and out of the top 10K every month. It is painful to watch, so subsequently, I hardly check anymore. I gauge my success more by the quality and quantity of the conversation (not even traffic), because as Todd says, how many people actually even care about the narrow topic area in which we write?

  6. Geoff,

    I just left a lengthy message at Copywrite Inc., but in brief here is what I said:

    1. I don’t write for links, I write for readers.
    2. Three months ago, Technorati had me at about 9,000. Today, I am at 12,000+, still a strong presence and bizsolutionsplus remains among the Ad Age 150.
    3. During those three months my readership increased from about 80 a day to about 125 a day, with a three-day high recently of nearly 1,000.
    4. Before I launched my blog, I created a marketing plan with measurable goals. The goals were based on average daily readers and revenues (jobs) created by the blog. Back then, I didn’t think about links. A mistake but not a disasterous one.
    5. My firm is on target with readers and exceeded my revenue’s goals. (That only tells me I didn’t stretch the goals enough.)

    My blog represents my brand to my readers. I promised them they would get business information (as well as an occasional political or music piece). I owe it to them to keep my promise, so I try to provide serious discussions on business topics. To do less would be dishonest and unprofessional. I believe that good writing and content will deliver the links necessary for SEO, so dropping links doesn’t worry me unless it crosses the line where search engines don’t direct readers to my blog. So far, a majority of my readers arrive from Google, so I seem to be okay.

    Good post, Geoff.

  7. Well, I’ve never managed to rank anywhere on Technorati, though I have been included in several informal top NN surveys.

    It’s great to be included, and a few visitors arrive that way, but I have a hard time being able to tell if really means anything.

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