Sunday, November 15, 2009

What's On Your List?

When I was at Internet Librarian 2009, one of the fascinating presentations was about evaluating websites and blogs.

In a nutshell, here's what you do.

First, create a list of all the blogs you're going to analyze. Which, in itself, is HUGE, right? One would have to look at all the different directories, click through blog rolls and links, etc.

Second, create the list of factors you're going to evaluate.

Third, evaluate each blog based on those factors.

Fourth, crunch the numbers.

Fifth, presto! You have a scientific study of the "best" blogs.

I'll add a sixth: now call yourself a consultant and sell this expertise to people like publishers. The presenters noted that their clients subscribe to this type of service and get quarterly updates. I'm not quite sure what the price would be; enough to pay you for what is a lot of time, especially at the beginning. But quarterly updates should also include new blogs; remove dead blogs; and always keep on eye on those factors. What gets added, removed, change in importance.

I'm enough of a nerd (or is it a geek?) that this type of thing fascinates me. I especially love how it shows there is no quick and easy answer to the question, "how do you judge a blog?" Rather, it takes a look at both quantitative and qualitative factors. Also, it removes the potential for bias based on friendships.

So it got me thinking. What should be on the list of factors to evaluate book blogs? These are in no particular order; but I imagine, done correctly, some factors should carry more weight than others.

Statistics, including unique visits, returning visitors, length of visit.

Comments, including quantity, quality, reason.

Subscribers via RSS.

Subscribers via email.

Age of blog.

Amount of posts per week.

Links into blog.

Links out of blog.

Technorati rating.

Content of blog posts (what is being blogged about, as well as quality)

Quality of blog posts (multiple points here: accuracy, originality, grammar, spelling).

Authority (who is the blogger, as well as recognition of blog).

What else would you add to the list? Or leave off? And what gets more "weight" than something else? To me, content is very important, so the content would somehow carry more weight than something like age of the blog.

I have only had one cup of coffee, so I know I'm omitting some important factors.

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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy


Lazygal said...

1. Links out of blog - doesn't matter as much if they're mostly links to books (via Amazon, etc.).

2. Technorati rating - no longer relevant as they've apparently stopped ranking blogs.

3. Subscribers via email - can you really trust a self-reported figure?

Liz B said...

Links out: this would have to be judged different ways, to omit the "don't matter" ones like you point out. I was thinking about "links out" in terms of properly crediting sources, as well as community building. So this would need more than one column.

Technorati: they do have a top 100 book blogs, but frankly, I'm not relying on it very much myself as it makes no sense. However, its an easy thing to add (and to not give a lot of weight to).

Subscribers/stats: anything that is self reported would be suspect. So this would also need to annotated somehow, self-reported versus verified.

Unknown said...

The weighting would depend on what you are looking for in a blog.

Some of the best blogs have very few subscribers, while some of the biggest have poor quality posts.

My blog gets a lot of hits, as I have done a lot of behind the scenes SEO tinkering, but that doesn't mean it is the best blog. I think you'd have to consider the rankings very carefully to get a fair reflection of what are really the best blogs.

I would think that average time on blog would be a good reflection of this, but I guess that would need to be balanced with number of RSS subscribers, who don't visit the site.

Good luck!

Liz B said...

It just goes to show that there is no "simple" answer to give people who want to know the "good" blogs.

FarmLaneBooks, yes, absolutely, what are you looking for? Is it a lot of readers or is it a targeted, specific readership? Is it reviews or industry news? Giveaways? Some want quick reactions, others long reviews.

Michelle said...

Good is such a subjective term though. What is good for me is not always good for you. I could care less about stats but really care about content. I also like reliability of reviews (which falls into content) but if I find a blog where the blogger has similar reading tastes as I do I frequent because I'll know I can find good suggestions and advice.