The Amazing Blog Rank FAQ
Virginia Right! editor Tom White started researching methods of ranking Virginia’s Political blogs in early 2010. After a lot of research, trial and error, he finally came up with a workable method to derive a fair system of ranking using several different ranking sites already in existence. Blog Rank is a non partisan project that is part of the effort to promote and improve Virginia Blogs and is an offshoot of Old Dominion Blog Aggregator.
There were several requirements that needed to be met in order to come up with a fair and transparent ranking system that will encourage Bloggers to take the steps necessary to promote and maximize exposure through the various tools freely available around the internet. Many bloggers simply put up a blog site and start writing. That is the crucial first step, but if you actually want to have an influence and bring people in to read your blog, there are more steps that must be taken. That is the purpose of these rankings. To encourage Virginia’s bloggers to take the next step.
A number of methods were evaluated, and many were discarded as not accurate, or not plausible or they did not meet the following criteria.
- Mostly passive for the blog owner. Registering and adding a code snip-it is OK. But there must be no charge for this service.
- Not susceptible to over-counting by hitting refresh. Most “hit-counters” are eliminated here.
- Multi-faceted assessment. We are looking for large databases with several months of statistics. Sites crawled on a regular basis with an assessment included for links and mentions on other sites.
- Anyone can easily visit the sites from which the data is pulled and calculate their average at any time.
Each week, on Sunday morning, the Blog Rank 2.0 software springs to life and visits 4 blog ranking sites: Alexa, Compete, Technorati and WebArbiter to obtain the current ranking for each of the 60+ blogs we are tracking. This information is placed in an SQL database and stored. We use a “screen scrape” method to automate the process and harvest the data. Once the data is gathered, a second software program kicks off and this reads the 4 entries for each blog, sorts the results to determine the worst ranking and throws that entry out. It then averages the remaining 3 to arrive at the Average. Once this is completed for each blog, the software uses an SQL Query to sort all of the blogs in ascending order (lowest number to highest) using the average just computed and assigns a ranking based on the sort (lowest number being the highest ranking).
Next, the software looks up the standing from the previous week which is stored in a different table and compares the ranking and average from the previous week, trends the blog up or down and computes the percentage. All of this information is then exported to a spreadsheet and saved on the computer. The standing and average is then stored in a table for the comparison next week.
The same process is then completed for left leaning blogs only, and then right leaning blogs. The final product is 3 spreadsheets which are then imported into a WordPress plugin and finally put into the weekly ranking.
There was quite a bit of software to write to accomplish this, but the process is rather quick. The screen scraping data harvesting takes about 15 minutes and the rest of the process takes less than a second to produce the 3 spreadsheets. The manual process of writing the post takes a few minutes.
First, if a blog is not listed, or not individually “broken out” from the parent blog – like the community blog sites at Typepad, WordPress.com and Blogger – there is no way to get a ranking based on the blog. Instead, you get a ranking of the free site provider itself, which is pretty high. Compete seems to totally disregard individual sites for all of these free blogging sites. Since Compete is an otherwise good source of ranking information, it was decided to throw out the worst ranking for all blogs and only take the best 3 out of 4. Any non-listed blog is assigned a ranking of 100 million. And yes, this can be a penalty. The good news is that the worst ranking is thrown out. Of the remaining 3 ranking sites, Alexa and WebArbiter list everyone. And Technorati will list your site for free if it is not listed, so if you are not listed there, you need to take a few minutes to do so.
Absolutely. Use the links below to manually look up the rankings – remember that these change often, at least daily. When you check, you might be looking at a newer version than the Sunday AM version I harvested.
- For Alexa, click here and enter the URL of the blog (www.BlogName.com)
- For Compete, click here and enter the URL of the blog.
- For Technorati, click here and enter the URL in the Search Box beside the Header that reads TECHNORATI. Important: Make sure to click the blog button on the left of the search box to get the right result.
- For WebArbiter, click here and enter the URL of the blog. The search box is at the top of the page. Click the blue button that says “check it” after entering the URL.
That was one of my first thoughts. They have a free version, so how hard is it to encourage everyone to place the code on their blog and use a simple counter?
The main reason is that they are not accurate. Sitemeter has a very short memory and counts return visitors over and over again. If you have a site that is a “hangout” or a Social Media type of blog where lots of back and forth discussions take place between a group of regular readers, these readers tend to hit “refresh” dozens of times a day. And when they do, the Sitemeter counter goes up and up. But these are the same visitors counted over and over. Not exactly a good representation of site traffic.
I documented an experiment I did with Sitemeter that proves it is very susceptible to these over-counts here. Give it a read to better understand why Sitemeter was rejected for this project.
While the number of hits a blog gets is important, the quality of these hits is very important. Search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing are in a competition for customers. One of the best ways the search engines become your favorite is to deliver highly relevant links when you are looking for something. For this reason, a site with 2,000 Sitemeter visitors a day should be a good indication that the information on the site is good. But if the site only has 500 visitors that are over-counted 4 times each, Google would rather send customers to a site that has 1,000 unique visitors. The information is more likely of greater interest and quality. So, how do you figure the real value of a blog and how do you rank a blog with better information higher than another blog?
The science behind the ranking is nothing short of amazing – and complected. Who reads you, what else they read, where you are linked and millions more bits of information are compiled to take a picture of your site.
Here is what Alexa says:
Alexa is continually crawling all publicly-available websites to create a series of snapshots of the web. We use the data we collect to create features and services:
- Site Info: Traffic Ranks, search analytics, demographics, and more
- Related Links: Sites that are similar or relevant to the one you are currently viewing
Alexa has been crawling the web since early 1996, and we have constantly increased the amount of information that we gather. We are currently gathering approximately 1.6 terabytes (1600 gigabytes) of web content per day. After each snapshot of the web (which take approximately two months to complete), Alexa has gathered 4.5 billion pages from over 16 million sites.
And Technorati uses Authority:
Authority is calculated based on a site’s linking behavior, categorization and other associated data over a short, finite period of time. A site’s authority may rapidly rise and fall depending on what the blogosphere is discussing at the moment, and how often a site produces content being referenced by other sites.
The new Authority calculation differs from the past version, which measured linking behavior over a longer 6 month timeframe. Please note that links in blogrolls don’t count towards Authority, as they are not indicative of interest in relevant content; we stopped including blogroll links in August 2008.
- Topical Authority measures a blog’s influence within its subject category.
- Blogs will appear ranked by topical authority within Technorati’s blog directory.
- Factors include linking behavior from blogs and posts in the same category, how well a blog’s overall content matches the category in question, and other associated data.
- It’s possible for a blog to have authority in several different categories. The authority in each category may be different.
You are free to dispute these algorithms, but they were all derived by statisticians, mathematicians, IT Professionals and business experts. And like polls, not all are perfect. It is for that reason that we decided to use an average, much like the poll averaging site Real Clear Politics.
First and foremost, the calculations toss out the worst ranking among the four sources. This is done because mass blog hosting sites like TypePad and Blogger are not ranked on an individual basis. If your blog is not listed on Technorati, for instance, and you are on one of the mass blogging sites, your search engine rankings are much lower than if you were listed in several. This is important because of the war most people blog. If you are writing on a particular topic and want to quote or link a source to provide more information or collaboration, you will go to your favorite search engine and research the topic at hand. And most times, you will choose a site to link that is on the first page. If your site is not listed highly on the search engine, you are invisible and will miss out on a lot of potential mentions and links.
Every week when these rankings are posted, the bots that crawl the web find each and every site. This simple weekly mention on this blog has increased the rankings of every Virginia blog included. Simply being mentioned on this blog adds standing to every blog that appears. (Note: Blogrolls no longer count. The bots are looking strictly for post links.) The higher the blog linking to you, the more weight placed on the link.
And it’s not just this blog, it is any. A link on Drudge, HuffPo or most of the very large sites counts far more than Virginia Right.
And by the same token, a link to Drudge on this blog has virtually no effect.
So, the higher the ranking of a blog, and the more places it is listed, the more valuable the links become.
Well, not much. In fact, if you are on a mass blogging site, you will not be listed. They find you.
Simple. Claim your blog. It is free and easy. Click here to find out how.
Simple. Claim your blog. It’s free and easy. Click here to find out how.
Nothing. You most likely are already listed. If by some chance you are not, this ranking will take care of that with a weekly link to your blog.
There is nothing sinister about these blog rankings. They are as open and honest as I can possible make them. If you follow the advice above to claim your blog, you will rise rapidly in the rankings and any penalty will be negated, as will your worst ranking site. The purpose of this weekly ranking is to improve the reach and significance of every single Virginia Political Blog. And to encourage open dialog and even a bit of friendly competition, not to mention raising the overall quality of blogs in Virginia.
Blogging has become an important part of the political landscape and much of what happens in the Mainstream Media happens first on a blog. Yes, we are ripped off all the time by lazy and underfunded reporters out to step on the lowly bloggers because they can do it with impunity. However, when a blog has high ranking on the search engines, this type of blatant activity becomes much more dangerous and frankly, if your search engine ranking is high, the story will already be out and these reporters are simply too late.
While the left and right blogs may be at odds politically, the higher the platform we all share the better for all of us.
If you disagree with the methods here, or the fairness, that is your prerogative. If you have an idea or suggestion on making this a better tool, please let me know by clicking here.
Thank you for taking the time to help make the Virginia Political Blogosphere a more relevant place to get your news and opinions.