Measuring Sticks for Blogs: Do They Matter?

Steven Snell

Bloggers who are trying to build a business are always being measured by rankings and statistical calculations of different sorts. These numbers can provide a great deal of information, but should bloggers be concerned with them? If so, which ones?


Each blog has its own unique goals that can’t necessarily be tracked by any particular ranking system. These measures and rankings are useful, however, especially in a number of situations that we’ll look at later in this article.

As a blogger, what are your goals? Do you want to sell products, make money on advertisements, promote and sell yourself as an expert on the subject, or do you just want to use your blog as an outlet to share your thoughts and opinions?

You don’t necessarily need a top ranked blog to meet your goals. With that in mind, don’t let ranking systems overshadow your goals.

Let’s start by taking a lot at some of the most common methods that are used for measuring the success of a blog.

Technorati Rank

A blog’s Technorati rank is based on how many inbound links are coming from other blogs, and it’s one of the most common ways of measuring a blog’s visibility or success. Some blogs with high Technorati rankings display their rank, or at least communicate it to their readers.

What’s good about it:

  • The Technorati rank gives a good indication of how much buzz a particular blog is creating.
  • It provides bloggers with a way of monitoring their progress in comparison with other blogs in their niche.

What’s not good about it:

  • Newer blogs will of course have the disadvantage of competing for rankings against more established blogs that have had the time to build backlinks.
  • The number of inbound links to a blog is not necessarily representative of the impact of a blog on its readers.
  • Blogs on certain topics (such as technology, Internet marketing, SEO, etc.) will have more potential for getting backlinks than blogs in smaller niches.

Alexa Rank

Alexa rankings include all types of websites, not just blogs. The rankings are based on the number of visitors and page views each site receives. Alexa shows trends that have developed in a site’s traffic history.

What’s good about it:

  • Alexa provides some historical data by showing trends, so you can see if a website/blog is gaining a larger audience or losing popularity.
  • By including all websites, it is possible to compare blogs to other types of sites.

What’s not good about it:

  • The rankings produced by Alexa receive criticism because they only track visitors who have the Alex toolbar installed in their browser.
  • A website can accumulate a lot of page views and visitors without converting into sales, leads, subscribers, or repeat readers.
  • All visitors and page views are given equal weight.

Google PageRank

Google uses its own ranking system, the PageRank (1 — 10 scale), which is based on the amount of quality backlinks to a page. Although many website owners and bloggers are concerned about their PageRank, it’s possible for pages to have high search engine rankings for particular terms without having high PageRanks.

What’s good about it:

  • Google’s PageRank gives you a quick idea of how the largest search engine in the world sees your site.
  • The rank is based on quality of backlinks, not quantity.

What’s not good about it:

  • New websites have a difficult time improving their PageRank.
  • Some established and well-trusted websites still have low PageRank.

Number of Unique Visitors

The number of unique visitors to a site or blog is a measure of how many different people have visited it.

What’s good about it:

  • Any statistical program can provide this data.
  • It’s a simple measure of how many people have been exposed to the website.
  • It’s an actual, real number — unlike a ranking creating by some other type of system.

What’s not good about it:

  • Different stats programs will rarely produce the same result.
  • It relies on the cookies of the Internet browser to determine if a visitor is unique, or if he/she has already visited.

Number of Page Views

A page view calculation simply shows the total number of pages on your website that have been viewed over a given period of time, regardless of how many different people visited the site.

What’s good about it:

  • Unlike the number of unique visitors, page view stats can show you if visitors are sticking around, or if they’re leaving as soon as they arrive on your site.
  • Like the unique visitor stats, the number of page views is a relatively simple measure that can be gathered by any stats program.

What’s not good about it:

  • Different stats programs will rarely produce the same result.
  • Recently, more emphasis has been placed on the length of time visitors are on a site, since pages can be clicked through very quickly. A visitor that reads an entire article may only account for 1 page view, but may be on the page for a considerable length of time.

Number of Subscribers

Subscribers of course are important to any blog, and this is therefore a very common measuring stick in terms of the success of blogs.

What’s good about it:

  • The number of subscribers represents the number of readers who have voluntarily chosen to receive blog posts on a regular basis.
  • It gives bloggers, advertisers, and readers a good idea of the reach and scope of a blog.

What’s not good about it:

  • The quality of subscribers is much more important than the quantity of subscribers.
  • Blogs in certain niches are likely to have higher or lower subscription counts due to the popularity of the subject.

Number of Inbound Links

Inbound links are important for a number of reasons, including click-through traffic and search engine rankings.

What’s good about it:

  • The number of inbound links can give you an idea of how much buzz is surrounding a blog.
  • In most cases a link shows an endorsement from one blog to another, which demonstrates credibility.

What’s not good about it:

  • Each search engine displays a different number of inbound links for a site or blog.
  • A high number of inbound links does not necessarily mean that a page has value.

When Do These Rankings and Measurements Matter?

  1. If you are selling advertising space
  2. If you are doing paid reviews
  3. If you are selling your blog
  4. If you use them for personal motivation and satisfaction
  5. In some cases for drawing inbound links

Outside of these situations, let your goals determine your success.

What measurements and rankings are important to you?

I’d like to hear your feedback on what you check regularly to monitor your blog’s progress. I know each of you has a different opinion on what is important and what is not. Personally, I tend to place the most emphasis on subscribers since they represent loyal readers who are likely to repeatedly visit. What are your thoughts? Do these measuring sticks matter?

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43 Responses to “Measuring Sticks for Blogs: Do They Matter?”

  • DanTen

    Bounce rate and number of subscribers can show a lot!
    Another very profane measuring sticks seems to be time…. websites and blogs that are doing good on Google PR and Alexa all semm to have been around for at least 3-4 years…..

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  • Matt

    Great round-up of these different gauges. My rankings for various blogs make much more sense to me now.

  • Ben Evert

    Number of subscribers, How many members in my social network, and how many visitors are the stats that I look at anymore. Anything else is just a math formula that is geared to making certain sites look good.

  • ezams

    I’d prefer to monitor my blog’s visitor and traffic analysis through Google Analytics. Its free and powerfull too..

  • Edward Dowd

    One stat that really doesn’t have a benchmark of what is “good” and “bad” is how much a visitor spends time on a page or site.

  • Matt Keegan

    PageRank, Alexa, and Technorati are important to me, in that order. But I do agree, there are many ways to “game” the system, greater weight is given to SEO blogs, and having the Alexa toolbar installed to calculate traffic is strange.

  • Steven Snell

    You’re right, the number of comments is also a factor.

    Bounce rate is another good one that I forgot. I use it especially for comparing sources of traffic (for example the bounce rate of visitors who arrive through a Google search vs. those who came through a link from Digg).

  • Emma

    Analytics-oops 🙂

  • Emma

    Thank-you for breaking things down so simply. I usually check feedburner and google anylitics.
    I am still learning how to get the most out of them. But I like it when things go up. And have learned not get to discouraged if things move in the opposite direction. Emma

  • Daniel

    Daniel Bates, if you are ranking well for your keywords you are fine.

    Small niches will not give you many backlinks, hence the lower PR, but you will also be competing with much fewer sites for your keywords, so it balances out.

  • Daniel Bates

    I’ve been blogging about 6 months now and I’m coming up in the top ten for my key search terms, but can’t seem to get google to give me ANY PR 🙁
    Any suggestions on how do to this when you’re blogging about a very small niche market that no else is writing about?

  • Daniel

    Phil, Alexa is like the TV audience rankings that you have. They can’t know exactly how many people are watching the different programs on public TV, but they install a gadget of selected families and extrapolate data from that sample.

    I agree that Alexa data is less reliable than TV data for a variety of reasons (the Internet is much broader than TV, and more complex as well). But it is still is one of the only measures we have for traffic.

  • Mary Emma Allen

    Very informative post. I’ve been rather confused about all the different types of measurements for blogs…what’s useful, what’s not, why, and for whom.

  • Phil

    I don’t know why many people care about Alexa and Technorati. They ranking idea and system is not really logical. If there was something logical it would be the pageviews or PageRank.

    Useful post !


  • The Buxr Widget

    Alexa is one of the most misleading statistics out there.. May have some use for comparing sites in the same niche, but that’s about it.

  • Desibabesworld

    Very useful. Thanks

  • Daniel

    Francesco, I will research a bit and complement it. Thanks for the input.

  • francesco mapelli

    Another great metric is bounce rate… I love it 🙂

    Great article, but it would have been nice to add some (external?) links to more detailed articles on each metric 🙂

  • Miguel Vera

    My blog is not at all about making money, but creating a community and providing solid and practical information, so I care a lot about the time spent on my blog (specially with long posts) and the number of subscribers.

    Nice review by the way. Cheers.

  • Mike Panic

    My goals are fairly simple. Get a larger group of people reading the blog and leaving comments. More page views = higher possibility that someone will comment. More page views also = better chance of ad revenue.

    I may sound like a broke record, but right now I’m focusing on solid content, the rest will come from that.

  • Meraj Khattak

    Very useful. I agree with when you say “Personally, I tend to place the most emphasis on subscribers since they represent loyal readers who are likely to repeatedly visit.”

    I too, think that subscribers are the users who are the most loyal readers of my blog.

  • Rhys

    You forgot to mention one of the most common methods of “ranking” bloggers: how much money they make 😉

  • Rhys

    I always look at “Number of comments” for success. I don’t know why. Just I suppose if it provokes a reaction in the simplest form, I’ve done well 🙂

  • Daniel

    Yeah Alexa is the most volatile one, and albeit that one of the most used metrics also.

  • Ramkarthik

    Hey Steven, great post listing advantages and disadvantages of the statistics. I don’t like alexa rank but still it matters for people and doing paid reviews. Good post and Stumbled.

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