Finding Truth in Blogger Stats

On the Internet it is still a wild west and for the most part it seems like people take each other at their word (or don't believe anything). When interacting with bloggers it is essential that you quickly size up the relative influence that a site has. The basic statistic for doing this is "unique visitors", though you can look at other factors like social media following, page rank, etc.

Unfortunately, we are pretty much at the mercy of the blogger when they give us a number because they control the absolute numbers. Even within an "accurate" report on the number of visitors there are numbers and then there are numbers. For instance, if I count a site using the server tools it reports ALL TRAFFIC - including bots. This number could easily be double the report from Google Analytics that typically is very conservative in only counting those visitors it determines are "real".

Despite this, many bloggers I have worked with tend to inflate or grossly exaggerate their numbers - telling me they have 50,000-60,000 visitors per month. Based solely on that number I would love to work with them to develop a campaign and shower them with products to review.

That isn't the whole story though!

Before you jump in whole hog and start spending your budget or you client's money it is essential that you verify the numbers and figure out what the reality is. Are the numbers really 50,000? Could it really be 35,000 and they just inflated it a bit? Or is the number a LOT lower and the numbers reported to you are total BS?

The following tools are essentially surveys. They sample traffic and predict what a site's traffic should be. It is not 100% accurate, but when comparing the relative strength of a site it is an essential tool and can knock out the blogs that are simply being deceitful about their traffic numbers.

Alexa

Alexa is one of the most basic ways to determine a site's relative traffic. They track traffic by leveraging tool bars and on-site widgets that some webmasters have added to their sites. The numbers can be a bit tricky since a LOWER number is actually better.

For instance, if one site has a rating of 600,000 that site has more traffic (and potentially influence) than a site with a rating of 3,000,000.

Alexa also provides a variety of other information including contact information for the site and basic audience statistics.

Compete

Compete is very similar to Alexa, but also allows you to see a nice graph over a period of time and is better for comparing sites side by side. This is also a commercial service and it offers a wealth of premium information should you have the budget and needs to do more detailed research.

Like Alexa though, Compete also works off of toolbar sampling but also uses a variety of other methods including working with ISPs, application vendors etc. to give a more complete picture.

What's the Truth Anyhow?

At the end of the day, one must really just make a gut decision. If the tools listed above don't mesh with what you feel based on talking with the blogger, just ask for some verifiable proof before engaging them beyond conversations.

The other reality is that numbers aren't always the most important metric. For instance, on my site Man Tripping, I have about 5,000-7,000 visitors each month. This is a relatively small number compared to some of the mommy blogs out there. My traffic however is far more valuable because it primarily consists of guys looking for travel ideas and ultimately spend a LOT of money.

So if you were a destination, would you rather work with Man Tripping, or a site that is larger but just entertainment? Additionally, advertisers and sponsors understand that I often do interviews and have speaking opportunities that extend beyond the reach of my site's traffic numbers.

Contact James Hills

email: james@aboutjameshills.com

phone: 630-779-9302