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What Makes A Successful Blog?

August 3rd, 2007 · 2 Comments

I was pleasantly surprised to find that three of the comments to my How the Great Blogs Began: The First Posts and Round 2 posts came from the profiled bloggers themselves! A special thanks to Jeremy Shoemaker (ShoeMoney.com), Lorelle (Lorelle.WordPress.com), and Brian Clark (CopyBlogger.Com) for stopping by and taking the time to comment so far!

Lorelle left a thought-provoking comment, with a lot of great points:

Very interesting and some great insights, however, the stats you have uncovered for Lorelle on WordPress are influenced by WordPress.com on Alexa and originally by Google, though that seems to be sorta cleared up lately. The issue is that Lorelle on WordPress is a subdomain of WordPress.com. Maybe the services have cleaned up the difference, but early on, before I stopped paying attention to stats, they hadn’t.

I don’t think that stats really speak well for a truly good analysis of what makes a successful blog. Your descriptions of why they are “successful”, though I’m not clear about your definition of success, is good, and the most valuable part. Online numbers have long been easily manipulated and screwy. Hopefully they’ll come up with better stats somewhere in time.

If I were to sum up all the years of experience blogging (and before blogging was blogging), I would say that the number one influencing factor in the “success” of a blog is its ability to create LINKABLE content, content worth linking to.

Goes back to the cave days when the story that became a legend was the one most entertaining to be told and thus, told many times, often beginning with the phrase, “Did you heard about…”

All great points, and I couldn’t agree more..stats like Alexa traffic and Techorati rank have severe shortcomings as measures of "success"! Lorelle actually had a recent post on her blog about what makes a blog post a success. There were some very interesting comments as part of the interchange that are worth checking out. My personal view is that if you’re talking about individual posts, there are two key things that let you know you were successful:


  1. The number of readers that stick around to actually read the post (you can determine this using stats packages like pMetrics or Google Analytics), and
  2. The number of long-term links your receive back to your post.

For the success of a blog, it’s a little more complex. If there was a good way to wrap up the above two metrics from all of the posts across a number of blogs, it would be great (please let me know if you know of any better way to do this!). Technorati rank does account for a particular blog’s "authority", reactions and number of times it was "favorited", which provides a reasonable metric for a blog’s long-term success.

Alexa traffic obviously has problems (poor ability to deal with subdomains, biased towards certain types of users, etc).. But the bottom line for this series is, it’s a great, easily accessible tool if you’re trying to make some high-level, macro comparisons of what types of behaviors or blog posts led to significant, sustained increases or decreases in a website’s traffic. If you’re the site owner, it’s easy to collect the metrics to do a detailed analysis on your own site–but from the outside in, I couldn’t think of a better way to approach it.

My hope is that Alexa, in particular, will highlight the points in each blog’s life where key events took place that really effected the long-term "success" (in this case I’m really talking about snapshot in time popularity / readership) of the blog. As I go along, I’ll attempt to highlight where tools like Alexa and Technorati rank are useful for evaluating a website or blog’s success, and where they should be avoided in favor of using your cranium.

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Tags: Case Studies / Profiles · Pro Blogging · Step-by-Step

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Lorelle // Aug 4, 2007 at 12:55 am

    Wow. Excellent points - though I’m confused with the definition of “long-term links”. Not sure what that is.

    Honestly, I’ve said this before, if I have one reader on my blog that I’ve helped, I’m happy. If I have ten readers on my blog, I’m thrilled. If I have 100 readers of my blog, I get nervous. 1,000 I’m getting paranoid. At 5,000, I’m a nervous wreck.

    If I start thinking about all those people, all depending on me and the next words that I type on the screen, I will be blogging for them and not for me, and it won’t be fun any more. It will change how I blog and what I blog about. I’m not ready to give up the success that making 10 people happy gives me.

    Those 10 people who blog better because of what I wrote mean more to me than the 5,000 or whatever the stats you found were. I blog for the tens in peace and tranquility. :D

    Okay, sorta.

  • 2 Zen Zoomie // Aug 4, 2007 at 11:50 pm

    That’s such a great attitude–and it’s obviously working out well for you. :) I hope you keep doing what you’re doing for a long time to come.

    On the subject of “long-term” links, I could have picked a better way of saying that. What I mean is, the number of links the post accumulates over a long period of time. Really great posts never seem to die..they just keep getting linked to as new readers and bloggers discover them. There are some posts that this doesn’t really apply to because the information loses relevancy over time, but in general I think it’s one of the best measures of a post’s success.

    P.S. Thanks for the link back!

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