How Would You Measure the Top 100 Blogs in the World?

  • July 29, 2010 by Corbett Barr
  • 29 Comments

Top 100 Blogs

If you wanted to measure the top 100 blogs in the world, how would you?

Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems like no one has implemented a good way to measure the top blogs yet. Technorati used to have something that seemed decent, but now its top 100 list is based on “authority,” and seems pretty inaccurate.

Why would you want to measure the top blogs?

I’m sure a lot of people would like to refer to the list to find the biggest blogs in the world. If the list included more than the top 100, up-and-coming bloggers would probably like to use the list to measure their own progress and set some goals (being able to say you run a top 100 or even top 10,000 blog would be pretty cool).

Plus, it would satisfy a lot of curiosity.

If you have ideas for how to measure the top blogs, I’d love to hear them in the comments. I’ll give you my two cents here first.

First, how do you define “blog?”

Let’s start by defining “blog.” I’ve found that people have very different definition of what constitutes a blog. To me, The Huffington Post and Engadget are both blogs. To other people, a blog is something run by one person. To others it’s something like a personal diary.

Blogs have evolved over the past ten years quite a bit. What started out as a way to share your thoughts or personal details online has turned into a flexible format that can support many different uses.

What defines a blog today? There are elements common to most blogs. The ability for readers to leave comments and entries posted in reverse chronological order are typical features of blogs. Although some blogs have neither of these features.

Blogs are usually thought of as being distinct from mainstream media as well, even though the subjects covered on blogs overlap with traditional news and magazines.

Let’s define a blog like this.

A blog is a website frequently updated (often daily or weekly) with content (typically text, but often photos, videos and art) maintained by an individual or group of people. Content is typically posted in reverse-chronological order, and readers usually have the ability to leave comments on each post.

Blogs are obviously not static websites, and they aren’t online services, but they cover most everything else. Is the New York Times website a blog? Probably not, but it fits much of our definition. I’ll let you decide that and tell me in the comments.

How are blogs and websites measured today?

I mentioned that Technorati maintains a list of the top 100 blogs, although I find it inadequate.

Sites like Alexa and Compete measure the popularity of websites, but they don’t distinguish between sites and blogs. Also, I’ve talked before about how those services are skewed in favor of sites with certain types of audiences.

There are various lists of top blogs in certain categories (like the Advertising Age Power 150 list of top marketing blogs), but I don’t know of anything that measures all blogs, and does it well.

How wold you measure the top blogs in the world?

There are two things to consider when coming up with a way to measure the top blogs. First, what would the ideal way to measure “top blogs” be, and second, what data is actually available or could be captured.

On the ideal measurement front, obviously actual visits/pageviews or total time on site would be good starting points. RSS subscribers used to be a decent measurement, but Feedburner has been on the fritz lately.

There are other measures like inbound link popularity or influence on other blogs that you might want to consider.

But there’s the question of what data is actually available that you have to consider. You can’t just look up actual visitors/pageviews and other data easily, because it isn’t public.

Maybe that’s why a decent list hasn’t been created so far.

In practical terms, you would have to rely on existing data, and probably come up with a composite measurement that considers multiple factors. The Advertising Age list does this, and looks at about five different factors to come up with an overall score.

Why do I care about this so much?

Mostly I care for curiosity’s sake. A site that measured this well could become popular on its own, so maybe there’s an opportunity here for someone.

Also, maybe I’d like to build a top 1000 blog myself and have no decent way of measuring that right now ;)

So what do you think? How would you measure the top blogs in the world? Would you like a list like that to exist? How do you define the word “blog” in the first place? Let me know in the comments.

photo by S@Z

Written by . Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.


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Dev - Technshare.com July 29, 2010 at 5:59 am

Hey Corbett,

Really Great post man.

I would measure top blog on the bases of traffic, social media engagement and content.
I think advertise150 & toprankblogs are great sites to find top blogs in the world..!!

Thanks for sharing this great Post.

~Dev

Corbett Barr July 30, 2010 at 10:56 am

“Content” is a hard thing to rank objectively, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing, Dev.

Rebecca July 29, 2010 at 7:12 am

Hi Corbett,

Thanks for posing such an interesting question. I think of measuring blogs like measuring restaurants. There will always be the extreme top standouts, and we can tell when some are better than others, but it’s mostly personal taste. If I don’t care for seafood, no seafood restaurant is ever going to crack my top 100 restaurants. Same with blogs. You can show me the best technical blog in the world, but it won’t do a thing for me. Blogging is such a personal adventure anyway. I think it’s something to keep in mind. However, should someone perfect the ability to rate them, I’d be first in line to hear the results :)

Thanks again for a great post.

Rebecca

Corbett Barr July 30, 2010 at 10:57 am

Hi Rebecca, that’s a great way to look at it I suppose. You could measure restaurants by revenue or customers served, but it wouldn’t really tell you which are the best. It’s too subjective a question. But by “top” blogs, maybe we’re really talking about the biggest, not the best (whatever that means to you).

Joel | Blog Of Impossible Things July 29, 2010 at 7:34 am

Corbett-
Definitely think there should be some sort of standardized [or something similar] ranking system. The problem is, the more info you know about how the system ‘ranks’ a site, the more and more people you’re going to end up trying to game the system. Even with Google’s secret algorithm SEO is still a very ‘gamey’ science where lots of people focus on trying to beat the system rather than competing within it.

Corbett Barr July 30, 2010 at 10:58 am

That’s true, Joel. Ranking systems always get gamed if they become popular enough. It’s not as if Digg and other social bookmarking sites are actually democratic anymore.

Chris Stroud July 29, 2010 at 7:45 am

I think the standard should be to count the amount of people who have subscribed to receive the post via RSS, Email, Twitter, Facebook, or what ever other medium. I’d like to see something like feedburner that is reliable and counts any type of way to subscribe to receive posts and counts them all.

Joel | Blog Of Impossible Things July 29, 2010 at 8:46 am

The problem with this is that these counts are hard to standardize. Lots of blogs have individual twitter accounts or facebook pages, but the authors themselves have personal accounts that people also follow. Also group blogs that have multiple contributers would have a distinct advantage since they have multiple people tweeting/sharing the same amount of stories…

I smell an business opportunity somewhere in all this.

Jarmar | The Best Networker Alive July 29, 2010 at 8:36 am

I’ve been thinking about this over the past few days… mainly because I’m trying to find the top blogs in my niche.

I read your post about launching a blog (HUGE help btw) so I’ve been scouring the net trying to find somewhat of accurate measurement of that.

I’ll let you know if I find something…

Jarmar…………….

Corbett Barr July 30, 2010 at 11:01 am

Cool, Jarmar. Let me know what you find.

Marios July 29, 2010 at 9:08 am

Great post, I would have to agree with Rebecca on this one, its a personal choice, I don’t care about the top 100 blogs because I can’t relate to them, I like this blog thinktraffic.net because I can relate to it.

Marios

Corbett Barr July 30, 2010 at 11:02 am

Although surely you might be interested in knowing which blogs were the biggest in different topics, right?

Asatar Bair July 29, 2010 at 3:07 pm

I had the same question and took a look at Technorati. I too was puzzled by the Authority ranking. There does seem to be a need for something like that though, because the measurement is complex, like you say, a combination of hits, subscribers, audience loyalty, links, etc., etc. I’ve been frustrated by Technorati recently, because I noticed that they don’t have several blogs that I follow, like “World’s Strongest Librarian” and “Far Beyond the Stars”.

Corbett Barr July 30, 2010 at 11:03 am

Technorati’s submission process seems to be borked lately. I’ve tried to submit Think Traffic a couple of times with no luck.

Gary Arndt July 29, 2010 at 5:23 pm

1) The Huffington Post is no longer a blog by any reasonable sense of the word. If the New York Times is a blog, then the word blog really doesn’t have any meaning anymore. The Huffington Post has no focus. They cover everything just like a newspaper. I think a blog has some sort of niche and has some dominant personality behind the site (Mike Arrington, Pete Cashmore, Perez Hilton, etc)

2) Technorati is a joke because their primary measurement is links and links are easy to game. Just because you have links doesn’t mean you have traffic or an audience.

3) RSS also isn’t really a good measure. Only 11% of internet users use RSS and those are usually the most tech savvy people. That is why metablogs and technology sites usually have the biggest RSS numbers, their users are RSS users.

4) The only way to really know would be to look at the log files of every blog, and that just isn’t going to happen.

Corbett Barr July 30, 2010 at 11:04 am

Ah, but the Huffington Post started as a blog? When did it cross the line?

I agree re: Technorati and RSS subscribers. Regarding your suggestion of looking at log files, that’s what Alexa and Compete try to simulate, with varying degrees of success. Maybe that’s as good as it can get.

Michael July 29, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Quite interesting question. I don’t really agree with Technorati ranking as well. I just realized in last months how many great blogs are out there and they are not on Technorati top 10.
I would think that making to the top list sometimes actually can make or break success of a blog. There is so much competition.

To truly measure ranking of a blog there would have to be some very complicated algorithm (something like Google). It takes a lot factors in. Decide what factor are most important and rank accordingly.

What could be factors? Links, traffic, subscribers, age, freshness and quality of content, number of comments, how often do they publish, followers on social media …

But thinking about it raises more questions. Should we measure number of followers on Twitter which may actually disadvantage bloggers without Twitter?

What about new blogs? They still migh publish great content but noone knows about it …

Also why even bother with ranking? Does it matter? It really matters to bloggers ego but does it matter to anyone else?

Corbett Barr July 30, 2010 at 11:08 am

Great points, Michael. This does open up so many questions. Ultimately, it would have to come down to a ubiquitous sign of popularity that can be measured for all blogs. Since traffic can’t be measured perfectly, links might be the only real solution. Technorati may have tried to do that and just missed on execution.

And, does this matter to people other than bloggers? I’m not sure about that. It would seem like people would care about finding the most popular blogs on various topics, but then again maybe they already know all of them from surfing around.

James Tayo July 30, 2010 at 4:30 am

The word blog has become too generic… i think it’s better to categorise and rank these sites in their own right..

As for choosing the top ranking blog, it is better to let the public decide, most mentioned, most content shared. Something like Website Grader from Hubspot does a similar thing

Corbett Barr July 30, 2010 at 11:10 am

Yeah, that may be, but when you let the public decide, the system usually ends up being gamed beyond usefulness. But I also agree, the word blog is maybe too generic now.

alamin@earn by blog July 30, 2010 at 8:42 am

Thnaks. Actually i determine top site by its traffic and subscription. I do believe a large amount of people can’t be wrong

Dave Doolin July 30, 2010 at 11:17 am

I’ve been puzzling this out over the last day or so. Here’s what the top 100 mean to *me*:

1. Must be broken down by niche; no comparing apples to oranges.
2. Must be operated by a person, a single point of known authority.
3. Must deliver real, objective value the reader can put to use.

Number 3 does not rule out inspirational blogs.

Traffic and stats are not always the best indicators of value. I can think of a couple of low traffic blogs with phenomenal content.

Corbett Barr August 1, 2010 at 9:38 pm

I like those criteria, Dave. Breaking things down by niche is key. Also, that a site has to “be operated by a person” might help clarify what the definition of blog is.

Fran Macdonald July 30, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Do you realise how important this question is – and not just to bloggers? If you can work out how to rank blogs in a way that people accept is valid, you can wipe out publishers, the gatekeepers in the reading world. I’m a fiction writer, and this would have huge implications for me.

If readers know they can find out which are the top sites (meaning ‘worth reading’), why would they bother buying published books, especially if writers start using the blog form more and more? And with increasing development of e-readers and net-based assistance for self-publishers, writers will increasingly publish online, especially if they know there’s a better way to market themselves to get readership, if they’re any good. Why would they bother going the horrible round of submitting to publishers, who only choose books on the basis of personal choice anyway, and give them a tiny cut of sales? (As for the exchange of money, haven’t thought that through yet. Any ideas?)

I agree that you’d have to have a complicated algorithm for ranking. I think some kind of direct voting by readers might be useful in the mix. As people have said, good content isn’t just about links and traffic.

I think you’d also make the definition of blog broad, but break it up into different categories, based on the form of blog and content – to help bloggers but also readers looking for their niche. Perhaps you could also start relatively small and expand over time with a system that keeps improving.

Very, very interesting.

Corbett Barr August 1, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Well, when you put it that way, I guess someone really should get working on this idea, right?

By the way, I think publishers will lose relevance regardless of if there’s a good blog ranking system out there. I heard that Amazon is now selling two ebooks for every print book.

Thanks for tying this in to the bigger picture. The world is definitely changing in favor of independents and small businesses, but I’m sure it doesn’t seem to be happening fast enough if you’re an author like yourself.

Dean Saliba August 3, 2010 at 3:07 am

I would measure it on how much traffic they genrate and how much money they make. I guess that makes me quite shallow. :)

Globetrooper Lauren August 8, 2010 at 10:33 am

Rating blogs & websites on content, reach & reader interaction would be the best ranking for me, I think. However content is so subjective and reach, as you noted, is hard to analyze as an outsider.
Does Google Analytics give any way of sharing your stats publicly? Or can you give someone a custom permission to see a few core things?

Corbett Barr July 30, 2010 at 11:00 am

That’s true. I have a Twitter account for this blog as well as a personal one. It’s hard to say how you’d count those followers in such a calculation. Hmm.

Ana @ Blog Traffic Generation August 5, 2010 at 7:22 am

I found Rebecca’s restaurant example exceptionally fitting the posed question.

I don’t think there will ever be a true measurement for the top blogs because the true value will always be in the eyes of the beholder.

I do agree with Dev as well, if there were any objective ways to measure blog’s popularity, it would be traffic and social media engagement.

Great post, Corbett – quite a discussion going on here!

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