Home Virginia Politics The Continuing Worthlessness of Blog Rankings

The Continuing Worthlessness of Blog Rankings


Virginia Right has been posting "rankings" for Virginia political blogs. What I've always found weird about attempts at ranking blogs is how little they have to do with actual postings & traffic. Just cherry-picking a few of the alleged big movers among the lefty blogs:

  • Armchair Generalist, who hasn't posted since May 2nd, is up 9% this week
  • Mosquito Blog, who hasn't posted since May 31st, is up 17% this week
  • And somehow the rankings have X Curmudgeon, who hasn't posted since May 11th, improving an amazing 27% this week

Meanwhile, that big loser Progressive Dem, who clearly ruined the blog by doing 12 fresh posts in the last week alone, is down 33% this week.

If you want to know how many people are reading your favorite blogs, check out their Sitemeter rankings, which sites like Blue Virginia, Not Larry SabatoThe Green MilesNOVA CommonSenseMoonhowlings & Bearing Drift happily share publicly.

  • They just make s*** up and expect people to believe it, apparently. What a joke, but it’s insidious – just like, but far less important than, their lies about climate science, tax cuts not worsening the deficit, ties between Iraq and al Qaeda, Obama supposedly being a Kenyan/Muslim/Commie, health care reform supposedly being “job killing,” etc.

    By the way, what’s funny is that I received an email several months back from one of the bloggers who I’ll just identify as being towards the “top” of Virginia Right’s rankings. The email was basically a friendly “complaint” that no matter what he did, all the material and front pagers and everything else, he couldn’t get more than about half the traffic of Blue Virginia. Obviously, he was comparing Sitemeter data to Sitemeter data, which is exactly what he should have been doing, as it is basically the only way to get a reputable, apples-to-apples comparison of blog traffic. The question is, why do some blogs NOT publicly reveal their Sitemeter numbers, as we’ve always done here (and, before this, at Raising Kaine/RK), as we believe in transparency to the greatest extent possible? (even more odd is blogs that have a Sitemeter, but don’t reveal the stats publicly – WTF?!?). Perhaps that’s a question you might want to ask some of these bloggers?

  • VirginiaRight

    There is absolutely no way to please everyone with any type of ranking. I am absolutely doing my best to be fair. I use rankings from several sources – Alexa, Technorati, Compete. The problem you find is that not all blogs are ranked on all the engines. I have no idea how BNN ranked blogs. They never revealed that “science” to us mortals.

    But if you think a simple measure like site traffic reflects a good measure of your site, I respectfully submit that you are missing the big picture.

    Alexa, Technorati et al crawl the internet and look at links to your site, syndicated traffic, and reflect a far better measure of a blog’s reach than simple hits. A few years ago hits were all that mattered. No longer. The reach of your site is a factor used in Google, Yahoo and other search engines.

    I am working on a number changes as I have time. I will be incorporating the raw data from each of the ranking engines and sorting and ranking on the average – which is what I am presently doing, but creating the tables, although I have automated a lot of it, is still time consuming.

    You might know I also run http://www.olddominionblogs.com which aggregates all of the blogs similar to BNN.

    This morning I went in and deleted 11 blogs from both the ODB aggregator and from the ranking database. Any that had not posted in 6 months or so are gone.

    What I do with the blog rankings and the aggregator is not intended to favor left or right blogs, rather, my intent is to promote political blogs – period. If you note my emphasis each week is on blogs that have improved, not ones that decline.

    It has actually been a pretty popular endeavor and it is still evolving.

    But please know that my intentions are not partisan in this task. I am open to suggestions and from what I have gathered in the 6 months I have been doing this is the best way to display a ranking is to incorporate a number of metrics and encourage Editors to list their sites with all of the major ranking platforms.

    You are always welcome to offer suggestions at my blog, or via email. I would really like to evolve this project into something that we all think is fair and honest and to promote a healthy competition that will make us all work harder to improve the art.

    Honestly, folks. I want to make this something helpful.

  • let’s put it this way: “many in the web marketing community still question the relevance of Alexa’s information and its accuracy.” See here for more. A few highlights.

    *”I don’t consider it to be a high value tool in terms of accuracy”

    *” I think all these traffic estimation tools have a big margin for error, and its easy to read too much into the base/core number. Having mentioned that, you can try to use traffic data from Alexa, Google Website Trends / DoubleClick Ad Planner, Compete.com, and Quantcast to try to see how well they agree in terms of the traffic volume of a site or the relative volume between multiple sites in the same vertical.”

    In sum, take Alexa with a huge grain, actually pillar, of salt.  At best.

  • which show them publicly (at least a couple have Sitemeters, but don’t show the results publicly), the top Virginia political blogs in May (in terms of traffic to their sites) were:

    1. Blue Virginia: 47,587 visits

    2. Not Larry Sabato: 45,782 visits

    3. Bearing Drift: 34,066 visits

    4. Moonhowlings: 22,619 visits

    5. BVBL: 18,464 visits

    6. NOVA Townhall: 12,225 visits

    7. NOVA Commonsense: 7,621 visits

    8. The Green Miles: 3,988 visits

    9. The Richmonder: 2,703 visits

    10. Red NOVA: 1,567 visits

    Now, if we could just get Sitemeter stats for a few others, particularly Too Conservative (my guess is that they’d be in the BVBL/Moonhowlings range, maybe a bit higher) and Vivian Paige (based on the # of blog posts and local focus, I’d guess the middle of the pack somewhere, but hard to say), we’d have a pretty good idea of the top political blogs (not counting corporate media blogs) in Virginia.

  • VirginiaRight

    So, you somehow see 100 users sitting on Blue Virginia hitting refresh to see if there are any new comments 10 times each – creating 1,000 hits as something useful?

    If you are not interested in an honest metric, by all means cling to Sitemeter. I don’t find it very informative to see how many times someone can hit refresh.

    Google Analytics does a much better job, but does not rank or make the measurements available.

    I notice you do not use GA. Sign up and put the GA code on your site. Give it a week and compare the count to Sitemeter. Pay close attention to the “Absolute Unique” count.

    What you will find is that your visitors are the same ones hitting refresh, or checking back multiple times a day to view any new comments. Your unique visitor count will be less than half of what Sitemeter reports.

    If you pay for the premium sitemeter your count will drop dramatically because the remembered IP addresses go up to 4000 per day instead of 100. The count will be more accurate as far as unique visitors, but page counts still reset every 30 minutes.

    Free Sitemeter simply does not give an accurate picture.