A question that is always at the front of a bloggers mind is measuring how popular their blog is. How many people are reading what I write? How much influence do I exert on the blogosphere? While these two questions are relatively hard to answer, there are metrics and factors you can use to measure your blog with.
There are a number of metrics out there you can use to get an idea of how much your blog is being used. The simplest way it to count how many visitors and page views your site gets. There are a number of tools out there that do this, however my favourite is Google Analytics, it’s free and tremendously powerful. If you use WordPress, another option is to use a stats plugin. My choice here is FireStats. It integrates beautifully with WordPress and provides a pretty comprehensive set of stats. If these don’t work well for you, there’s a host of other tools out there, from free packages like AWStats to fully fledged packages like WebTrends.
Another set of figures you can use to gauge your site’s popularity is to use web metrics published by various authorities on the Internet. For example, Google assigns each web page a PageRank to determine how “important” a page is. Alexa ranks each website based on how many visits from people using it’s toolbar the website gets. More relevant to blogs is a Technorati Ranking which is based on how many sources your blog has in relation to others that Technorati knows about.
For those of you who don’t trust these figures there are other factors you can use to determine whether your blog is popular or not. One of these is how much spam your website receives. The more popular your blog, the more comment spam you will find. While not an exact science, if the amount of daily spam you get is increasing, that’s a pretty good indication that your blog is getting more popular. I came across another factor this morning: while going to Lilian Chan’s blog 5xMom’s I accidentally misspelt her URL (thinking that Lilian was spelt Lillian) and ended up on a spam site! If people are buying up misspellings of your URL, you can bet that your blog is becoming pretty popular!
Just keep in mind that all these factors won’t mean much in absolute terms but you can use them to chart your growth or to come up with a relative indication of how you compare to other bloggers out there. My main piece of advice is not to get hung up on how popular your blog is getting. Blog because you enjoy it; don’t think of it as a popularity contest! Also, don’t think that just because everyone does it, that’s the way it should be. There are always notable examples, like, for example, how Seth Godin disables commenting on his blog. Just concentrate on putting value in your posts … and the masses will come !