Blog Ranking Metrics
Dale Franks and Jeff Goldstein are worried about the wild disparity between such blog ranking sites as the TTLB Ecosystem, Technorati, and BlogPulse. Dale is mostly confused as to why they differ so much, whereas Jeff is concerned that his low linkage rating despite comparatively high traffic will disadvantage him with advertisers.
The disparity between the link ranking sites is mostly a function of their measuring different things. Currently, technorati shows OTB with 1,151 links from 804 sources. TTLB shows OTB with 921 unique inbound links, ranking 39th of all blogs in the database. As best I can determine, BlogPulse only compiles rankings occasionally. Both Technorati and TTLB count only links to sites within its database, with Technorati having a larger database. TTLB excludes multiple links to a given URL from a site and only counts links that are active on a site rather than going back into the archives.
Because Bear is a fellow blogger and did such a creative job marketing his Ecosystem, creating categories and rankings that one can easily follow, it’s the one that bloggers pay the most attention to. Unfortunately, because of its vast size, it’s virtually unmanageable by one man in his spare time and people figured out numerous ways to cheat the system, either through incompetence or malice. Indeed, at the moment, some site I’ve never heard of is ranked #2.
To combat this, Bear keeps re-jiggering the system, so the tracking becomes less meaningful over time. Right now, it’s weighted very heavily to very recent links. The upshot is that blogs with lots of people blogrolling them have the edge, as those links remain fairly static and always count as “fresh” since they’re on the main page of most sites.
Traffic and linkage ranking sometimes correlate but not always. Look at OTB’s linkage and traffic as shown at TTLB:
Inbound Links 2005
So, OTB has been ranked between 29th overall and 42nd overall over the last month, with the peak coming at the beginning of the period.
Average Daily SiteMeter Traffic 2005 2005
OTB’s traffic average has fluctuated wildly, from around 4500 to nearly 20,000 over the same period, with the peak coming at the end of the period.
More generally, OTB’s ranking has remained steady–indeed, has fallen–over the last year despite a geometric explosion in traffic. The site was ranked #30 as early as January of 2004 and stayed in the 30’s for months. At the time, the site was averaging 1000-1500 readers on a normal weekday. Now, it gets more readers in a month than it did the entire history of the blog up through then. Part of the decline in ranking has to do with the emergence of several new sites that have caught fire and part of the increase in traffic has to do with increased search engine visability. Still, the disparity is bizarre.
Advertisers are looking at traffic and clickthroughs. The key players, BlogAds and Google Adsense, do their own tracking of those metrics, so I can’t imagine TTLB ranking much matters for that. Such things matter mostly, perhaps entirely, to other bloggers.
The Ecosystem has lots of problems, with several non-blogs in prominent positions in the rankings, the inability to distinguish between links to a blog and a popular non-blog hosted on the same site (e.g., Bear’s very good but sporadically updated blog vs. Bear’s Ecosystem; RealClearPolitics’ blog vs. op-ed roundup and polls), and the aforementioned ability to game/screw up the system. As one of Jeff’s readers notes, the existence of automatic reciprocal blogrolls inflates the ratings of some sites is one problem. Still, it represents a lot of work on Bear’s part and gives bloggers something to grouse about. It’s the BCS of Blogging.*
*I just made this up. Must cite if used.
QUANTIFYING THE BLOGOSPHERE (May 19, 2003)
NAVEL GAZING (July 16, 2003)