If you’ve been on the Internet it is rare you have not come across or at least heard of the blog. Blogistan, the blogging ecosystem is exploding with thousands of new additions every day. Blogs created, consumed and driven by community power is being transformed into a powerful tool to disseminate news among enthusiasts. The sheer sizes of users and exchange have made organizations adopt blogs as a medium for brand building and reaching clients. Google, Microsoft and other organizations either have official blogs or have employee blogs in official and unofficial capacity. The blog, personal till now has transformed into a commercial and corporate vehicle.

Enter the human mind

The human mind is capable of processing images better and faster than reading textual information. Even when looking at tabulated data, our mind processes the data and creates mental images. It does the visualization internally while assimilating it. In the area of visualization, hence, the idea of utilizing perceivable elements such as shape, size, color, proximity, progression and depth become very useful. It can tell a story that can facilitate the human mind in processing data in the first place.

With its new avatar there has been increasing talk about measuring blog success, which unfortunately still remains a nascent art. The immense diversity and growth has rendered it difficult to arrive at standard performance indicators and tools, except some fresh enhancements to existing web analytics tools. Also traditional web analytics concepts and performance indicators for website traffic cannot be blindly aped to blogs.

Here is an attempt to nail down some parameters to gauge the success of your blog. The data collection is possible through a combination of tools and manual collection.

1. Visibility and Reach

These are traditional analytics performance indicators to get a feel of how may people are reaching the blog and is not indicative of quality. Google Analytics is the most popular solution though the interface is heavy. The other option of course is to use a web analytics tool to read the server logs.

  • Page views – Total pages viewed on the blog
  • Total visitors – Total visitors to your blog who may have more than one visit
  • Page views/visitor – A higher page view per visitor shows better “stickiness”
  • New visitors – First time visitors
  • Return visitors – A growing number shows better visitor retaining capacity
  • Direct Visitors – A measure of popularity and brand strength
  • Feed Subscribers – The subscription to your blog is good measure of consumption but these numbers would not be available with analytics software. Feedburner can give you subscription information and live stats on your blog making life easier in spite of the hassle of using a feedburner custom URL for your blog( www.feedburner.com to read more). Bloglines is a popular browser based news aggregator and provides the number of blog subscribers. Though it only calculates blogline users it is representative enough because of its wide acceptance.

Key Performance Indicators – Weekly Report

  • Page views
  • Page views/ visitor
  • Total visitors
  • New Visitors
  • Return Visitors
  • Direct Visitors
  • Subscribers
  • Average subscribers
  • Total readers (Subscribers and visitors)

2. Readership and Interaction – Visitor Engagement

Comments – Comments to your posts are the best way to gauge the depth of interaction with your visitors and also the quality of your content.

Trackbacks – Trackbacks are what people talk about you and is a true measure of the quality of your blog.

3. Popularity

Is your blog making the world a better place and where does it stand in comparison to the millions of others out there?

Technorati – Technocrati is a blog ranking service and like Google gives weightage to inbound links. The blogs are ranked based on relative links. The two key data to pick up is the blog rank and number of inbound links.

Alexa – Amazon’s internet monitoring and ranking service ranks websites based on the traffic from the users with Alexa toolbar installed. Thought not entirely dependable Alexa rankings are a good indicator of reach and popularity.

Key Performance Indicators

  • Technocrati ranking
  • Number of inbound links
  • % change over last week
  • Alexa ranking

4. Some other indicators of blog performance

Keywords – Keywords used by visitors to reach your blog

These are more subjective and involve manual data collection but still a good indication on where your blog is headed.

Offline Impact – Lifting a note from traditional media, influence of blogs can also be measured through their use in other media. Newspapers, news site like Google news and Yahoo news refer to blogs for latest updates and other such information.

Del.icio.us – A social networking website which uses tags to define popularity. Good indicator of blog popularity with users

Search Engine Ranking – The list of top referrer search engines and ranking