Some tips and tricks from the BlogHer ’10 session with Nancy Martira, http://www.ketchum.com/; Adria Richards, http://butyoureagirl.com/; Keidra Chaney, http://www.thewebfarmers.com/; Stephanie Stiavetti, http://www.wasabimon.com/
How can a blogger measure his or her influence online? This session examined the importance of traffic, the value of high traffic and what bloggers can do to give their blogs an edge.
The focus for many years was on blog hits, and then turned to unique visitors (the number of individual people looking at a blog). Now, the focus is on how many human beings are reading your site, what they do when they are on your site and how much time they spend on your site – which shows how engaged they are. Bloggers should review their blog stats to see where people are coming from – a New York Times article, Google, another blog, etc. Examine the “bounce” rate, too. Do your visitors land on your site and leave right away or do they visit multiple pages on your site? The goal is to get visitors to stay on your site, by motivating them to a call to action – ask them to subscribe to your blog, retweet your blog post, sign-up for your newsletter, etc. You want to create a funnel to bring readers in and give them a goal or goals so you can track them on your site. You can learn all these things by using tools like Google Analytics.
Influence can be very nebulous but comes down to how you are affecting your readers. People mistake popularity for influence, but if a site has a high number of visitors who take little action, that blog has far less influence than one in which the users follow up in some way. Although it’s not easy to quantify loyalty and trust, it’s something most bloggers recognize when they do have it.
Google Analytics is one way to measure influence. Twitter Analyzer is another tool that can help – tag the links from your blog when you post them to Twitter, and Twitter Analyzer will help you measure who came to read them and whether those people who found you on Twitter clicked through to your site.
Look at referring sites, it’s a good indication of your influence; for instance, if you get a lot of links from high-ranking sites like the New York Times this will make your blog more influential. All links are important, but you really want the links from bigger sites. Google Analytics can provide a filtered keyword report and that way you can evaluate whether your SEO and keyword tactics are working. This program will also let you see where your “bouncers,” the ones who click onto your site but leave quickly, come from. Conversion University is the tutorial program for Google Analytics so you can learn to use it.
Google Page Rank gives sites a ranking from 0-10 to rate influence based on an algorithm; a 5 is good but a lower number doesn’t mean your blog isn’t doing well. If you’re part of a niche online it may be difficult to go higher than a 2 or 3. The Google Toolbar is free and includes the GPR measure. You can work to improve your GPR by getting more inbound links to your site from high-ranking sites. The easy way to build up your rank is by building activity, relationships with other bloggers (even smaller sites) because having a lot of those links is valuable. Be clear, sharp and concise in your blog writing so it’s easy for others to Tweet your posts. Use pithy headlines, using phrases such as “5 Ways to,” “Secrets of,” “How to.” Have your blog categories “above the fold” on your site so they’re easy to find and for visitors to click through. Images can also be an effective way to keep people on your blog.
The goal is to have a variety of links on your site: inbound links from other sites; internal links that lead visitors to other pages on your site; outbound links to other people’s blogs or websites – if you don’t link to others, they won’t link to you. However, if someone asks you to link to them, check out their stats first – if they don’t have a good ranking it’s not going to help you to link to them. In fact, it could decrease your GPR. The quality of the links matter because Google tries to define what you’re about, so links from “like-minded” sites count the most in building your online credibility and ranking. Practice “safe linking,” because when you link to another site you’re creating a partnership whether you like it or not.
Compete.com and Alexa.com also allow you to examine the traffic statistics of people who visit your site. These are all free tools and are not always accurate, but they can be used to establish a benchmark for your blog stats. Additional free tools include Wordtracker.com, Google Adwords and Postrank.com.
PR people do ask bloggers who do product reviews and giveaways for media kits, and they are looking for information including coverage (particularly from larger media), whether you’ve been featured in any local broadcasts and site statistics.
Leaving comments on other blogs (not overly promotional comments, leave comments when you really have something to say) and inviting comments on your blog are great ways to build engagement and measure your influence. Don’t get tied up in the number of comments you get – it’s only one indication of your influence. Others include GPR, subscribers to your blog’s RSS and links. Google’s Feedburner.com can help you track your subscribers.
It can be a challenge for bloggers to break through, but you can own a specific niche and be influential. Protect your brand – don’t do every giveaway and product promotion out there, if you’re going to do promotion of any kind, reach out to brands you love and make it personal. Tell them why you would make a great fit. And when growing your presence and influence ask yourself: what do you want people to do when they go to your site? Then, develop a plan to make that happen.
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