Few people genuinely blog for fun. A person may start a blog for fun, but that feeling is only going to last for a couple of weeks before it fades. In order for a blog to be sustainable, it must offer something in return. In other words, it must be successful. The only question is, how do you determine the success of a blog?
What’s your objective?
Success is a subjective metric, regardless of the process or outcome. Success is in the eye of the beholder and sometimes the beholder doesn’t even understand what it looks like. Having said that, it’s important for a blogger to determine the blog’s objective before digging in too deep.
According to content marketing thought leader Jay Baer, there are three overarching objectives for any blog. In some situations, a blog may possess more than one objective, but typically there’s only one primary goal. The three options are as follows:
- Blogging for content. In this situation, the primary emphasis is on developing a strong, competitive SEO strategy that allows you to drive traffic to your website via specific keywords, search terms, and topics. When blogging for content, things like referral sources, traffic numbers, and SERP rankings are important metrics.
- Blogging for conversions. The second common objective has less to do with traffic numbers and more to do with the percentage of blog visitors who are converting – i.e. making a purchase or signing up for a service. Blogging for conversions is a pretty common objective for ecommerce blogs.
- Blogging for community. Finally, there’s blogging for community. In this scenario, the blog exists to bring people together and create a sense of togetherness around a brand, industry, or niche.
Clearly, success is measured differently depending on the blog’s primary objective. If you’re blogging for SEO purposes, your success metrics will be different than if you’re blogging with the intent of building a community around your brand. It’s imperative that you recognize this moving forward.
4 ways to quantify blogging success
Depending on the objective of your blog, the specific metrics you use to measure success will vary. However, regardless of whether you’re blogging for content, conversions, or community, there are certain things that can almost always be used to quantify success. Let’s check out a few of them:
1. Blog rankings
Success might be a subjective thing, but you can get a pretty good gauge on how others feel about your blog by taking a look at objective rankings from third-party sources who have no vested interest in your blog.
Take this list of top small business blogs from Consultants 500 as an example. They’ve determined the top blogs by reviewing other lists and using a point system to determine which ones are most successful.
While not entirely scientific, this example points to an important and revealing question: Are people in your industry talking about your blog? If people don’t know it exists, or are unimpressed by it, then this is probably a sign that the blog isn’t successful. On the other hand, if you’re regularly ranked and referred by people in your niche, this is a sign that you’re doing something right.
2. Conversion rates
Regardless of whether or not your primary goal is conversions in the form of sales, you have to take conversion rates seriously. They don’t lie and do a pretty decent job of telling you what your traffic is doing.
For example, if you’re generating 500 clicks per day to your blog, but only 3 users are clicking on the CTA’s at the end of your posts, then this indicates that (a) people aren’t reading through to the end of your content, or (b) your CTA’s aren’t compelling. Either way, it’s difficult to quantify this as “success.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum, getting 20 percent of your blog visitors to opt-in to your email list is clearly a good thing. It means that you’re offering something that your visitors see as enticing. Regardless of the main objective, this is a universal indication that you’re on the right path.
3. Comment activity
One oft-overlooked measure of success is comment section activity. If you spend any time looking at popular business blogs, you’ll notice that they garner a ton of traction in the comment section. This isn’t by chance. People are compelled to comment when the content they’ve consumed has moved them in some way. Taking the time to write a response – whether in the form of a question, compliment, or rebuttal – indicates that the reader has been engaged in a meaningful way.
4. Guest blogging requests
This fourth measure of success is one that’s extremely telling. If you’re getting a ton of guest blogging requests from readers, colleagues, peers, and others in your industry, this is an indication that they believe your blog is a good thing to be associated with. Clearly, you’ve made a positive impression and have some clout.
However, if you’re sending out a ton of requests for guest bloggers and nobody is taking you up on the offer, then this is a sign that people don’t see a mutually beneficial opportunity. In all likelihood, this indicates a lack of success.
Examining your blog
This article doesn’t necessarily change the fact that success is an entirely subjective metric – whether in blogging or any other personal or professional pursuit. What it does do is provide you with some tangible metrics and signposts to latch onto. If your blog has reliable third-party ratings, a high conversion rate, lots of activity in the comment section, and guest blogging requests, then you know good things are happening. It tells you that you have good processes and systems in place that are worth repeating.
If your blog is underperforming in these areas, then it’s a sign that you aren’t living up to your potential. It doesn’t mean that your blog is a total failure, but should indicate there are areas where you can improve.
So, how’s your blog doing?