Which metric is the most important?

EDIT: I got every part of this analysis right, up until the very end when I had simply to average some figures out. Please see here for the updated version. Apologies.

I’m on holiday today, so I thought I would spend the afternoon drinking coffee, listening to Pandora (Nick Drake Radio – perfect), stroking the cat, and delving into the metrics I use to assemble the PowerPR index to see which is the most influential. Do I know how to party or what?

This is something I discussed a while back with Flemming Madsen of Onalytica. We had an interesting conversation about what exactly constitues a PR blog. Does it have to talk about PR exclusively? Should it just be an individual’s blog, or should it include blogs run by companies? And, most intriguingly, which metric holds the greatest sway over a set of combined rankings?

In the PowerPR index I use a variety of metrics. Some could conflict with each other, while there may indeed be overlap between them (the subject of another future post). My attitude is, if it’s available, throw it in the mix. This is in the absence of being able to find any appreciable correlations between them which is what got me started on all this in the first place.

So, to the metrics. I use Technorati Authority, Rank, Inlinks, Yahoo Inlinks, Google Hits, Google Blog Hits, Google Blog Hits over the past month, Blogpulse Hits, and Blogpulse Hits over the past 6 months. Which of these is the most influential? That is, if I rank the PowerPR index according to just, say, Technorati Authority, how close is it to the ranking obtained when looking at the metrics combined? If it’s identical then it implies Technorati Authority holds total sway, and my PowerPR index is knackered.

Fortunately, that’s not the case. A list ranked by Technorati Authority alone is similar, but not identical, to the full list. Here it is:

 Authority Rank   PowerPR Rank   (Absolute) Difference 
Alan Weinkrantz PR Web Log 63 69 6
The Bad Pitch Blog 17 16 1
Wired PR Works 78 66 12
Beyond PR 54 45 9
PR Meets the WWW 22 21 1
bitemarks 47 47 0
The Byline 94 97 3
a shel of my former self 6 5 1
Blogging Me, Blogging You 33 36 3
Media Artifacts 66 59 7
Client Service Insights (CSI) 74 81 7
Canuckflack 7 12 5
Common Sense PR 15 25 10
Cooler Insights 31 32 1
copypunk 76 85 9
Corporati 85 83 2
nerd-in-residence 85 88 3
Don’t eat the shrimp 66 72 6
DummySpit 80 79 1
First Person PR 54 74 20
Fusion PR Forum 74 80 6
Getting Ink 59 62 3
Glass House 57 53 4
Heather Yaxley – Greenbanana PR 28 30 2
Indian and Global PR 85 88 3
PR 2.0 71 68 3
The Rosemont Loving 62 64 2
KDPaine’s PR Measurement Blog 34 38 4
my(PR)palette 89 73 16
media mindshare 63 58 5
Naked PR 43 54 11
All Things PR 93 90 3
note to editors… 81 75 6
Object Towers 52 55 3
Communication Overtones 9 7 2
Active Voice 65 77 12
point being: 89 87 2
Pop! PR Jots 13 18 5
PR Communications 35 39 4
Strategic Public Relations 18 17 1
Priscilla’s World 69 65 4
PR India Post 100 95 5
PR Studies 37 43 6
Tech for PR 82 86 4
PR Voice 61 75 14
Public Relations Rogue 72 71 1
Corporate PR 20 29 9
Small Business PR and Marketing 94 96 2
PR (in a jar) 82 94 12
The Spud Gun 85 92 7
Strumpette 16 14 2
Teaching PR 47 50 3
Tech PR War Stories 57 49 8
Drew B’s take on tech PR 40 37 3
The Friendly Ghost 37 46 9
The Jive Man 97 98 1
The last man in Europe… 89 93 4
The New Marketing 59 62 3
The PR 2.0 Universe 47 50 3
The PR Place 69 67 2
Tech PR Gems 35 26 9
ToughSledding 42 40 2
Murphy’s Law 39 41 2
On Message Wagner Comms 24 31 7
wordymouth 89 82 7
72 Point Blog 99 100 1
PR 2.0 Silicon Valley 5 4 1
Engage in PR 46 33 13
GREENblog 82 69 13
Media Orchard 20 13 7
IndiaPRBlog! 52 48 4
The Buzz Bin 12 9 3
Media Guerrilla 32 35 3
Micro Persuasion 2 2 0
NevilleHobson.com 8 6 2
Onalytica – analysing online buzz 66 59 7
On the face… 98 99 1
Paul Gillin – Social Media 14 20 6
Piaras Kelly PR – Irish Public Relations 51 52 1
PR Blogger 19 19 0
PR Conversations 41 34 7
PR. Differently 26 24 2
PR Disasters 45 44 1
PR Girlz 78 78 0
Pro PR 23 15 8
PR Squared 11 8 3
Center for Media and Democracy 3 3 0
PR Works 30 27 3
Wadds’ tech pr blog 47 42 5
The New PR 54 57 3
Spinwatch 29 23 6
A PR Guy’s Musings 25 28 3
….the world’s leading…. 44 56 12
The Thicket 76 84 8
Todd Andrlik 4 11 7
Online Marketing Blog 1 1 0
Valley PR Blog 72 61 11
Web Ink Now 10 10 0
Young PR 26 22 4
PRactical P.R. 94 91 3

As you can see, there are broad similarities, but significant differences too. First Person PR, for example, would shoot up 20 places if I just used Technorati Authority (btw, all the differences are absolute differences because I’m interested in the change rather than the direction). Unfortunately for Kari Hanson, I don’t.

The ‘average difference’ (you can tell I’m not a statistican, can’t you?) for Technorati Authority is 9.4. This means that, if I ranked purely according to Technorati Authority, on average a blog would change its ranking by nearly ten places. This is quite a difference and implies to me that Technorati Authority alone isn’t well aligned to the rankings when looking at all metrics combined.

Post-edit: This is where it went a bit wrong. I strongly recommend you continue from the more recent post where I fixed my figures – click here to see it.

So let’s look at the other metrics. I’m not going to reproduce a table of the whole lot, but the ‘average differences’ are:

  • Technorati Authority=9.4
  • Technorati Rank=49.21
  • Technorati Inboundlinks=12.44
  • Yahoo Inlinks=1.51
  • Google Hits=11.12
  • Google Blog Hits=9.07
  • Google Blog Hits over a month=14.85
  • Blogpulse Hits=15.82
  • Blogpulse Hits over 180 days=14.54

It looks to me like Yahoo Inlinks is the single most influential metric. If I rank according to Yahoo Inlinks, I will get a very similar table to when I rank according to all the combined metrics.

Technorati Rank is way out there. A ranking by Technorati Rank alone would almost completely change the table. This implies to me it’s measuring something very different from the other metrics. On this basis do I keep it – because it’s measuring something different from the others and is therefore valuable – or ditch it because it’s screwing the table up? 

I think the key to this is the ubiquity of Technorati Rank. Every blog has one, so by including it at least I’m being fair, which other metrics such as Alexa might not do because they’re not universal and have a tech bias.

It’s peculiar however that the Technorati metrics especially display such variance. Why should the ranking be so different from Authority and Inboundlinks? Quite possibly the subject of another post…

I should, of course, qualify everything I’ve said here by reiterating that I’m not a statistican. I just quite like data mining and looking for patterns (I’m a pattern-matcher by nature, as I’ve found out in tests that measures people’s heads in the past). Also, whereas I’ve tried *really* hard to make sure all my data is good, this kind of analysis is pretty complicated and I do hope I’ve managed to copy and paste everything in the right place. Let me know if you violently disagree with my findings!

POST EDIT: I obviously didn’t try hard enough, and I do wish people had violently disagreed, because I was wrong…

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17 thoughts on “Which metric is the most important?

  1. Brendan –

    What a great (and interesting) post. It illustrates one of the biggest challenges PR folks have with determining who the key “influencers” are in the blogosphere. I’ve never believed that link love (which the Technorati authority measures) equates to influence. Nor do I believe that traffic necessarily equates to influence. I think both are simply a measure of popularity with a little link pimping thrown in. Perhaps engagement/comments would be a good metric, but I’ll admit I can’t think of a way for you to automate that … hopefully technology will evolve a bit more in ’08 to help out.

    That said, I think your list is getting closer each time you tweak it. And in the meantime, I’ve discovered several blogs from it and others have found me.

    Happily sitting at #74,

  2. Interesting – Tech for PR is listed yet the blog hasn’t been updated since September. Don’t get me wrong – I know the author and loved his blog when he was writing regularly. I’m just trying to understand how the blog still has influence without updates?

    *sniff* *sniff*, didn’t make the list =)

  3. Cece, I’ve had other comments similar to this. I’ve checked the figures and they’re correct, but there are several reasons why a relatively inactive blog will still appear. I’ll be posting about it next!

    As for ‘not appearing in it’, well I’m trying to keep it down to 100 simply because, for various reasons, that makes it much more manageable. I’m minded to remove a couple of blogs which really have become cobweblogs so I could make room for you I guess!

    This is actually quite an important point: the list is just blogs I’ve come across, read, linked to, commented on etc over the past few months. That is, quite simply, the criterion for entry. No web spiders, no fancypants automation.

  4. Cece, following my bemused comment the other day about John Wagner’s blog increasing two points, despite it containing no new posts since early October, Brendan did take my concern seriously and investigated. He contacted me directly with the full “audit” in regards to the metrics currently being employed. Brendan assured me that On Message did gain ground fairly…at least in regards to its rankings on this list.

    I have come to realize that Brendan takes ongoing maintenance of this list quite seriously (including trying to make it as accurate as possible through a balanced set of metrics), in order to ensure it is considered a credible (i.e., accurate and trusted) resource. So, rest assured that Tech for PR probably does deserve its current ranking (given the criteria), at least on this list.

    As lists go, this one ain’t half bad. It isn’t nearly as subjective as several (dodgy) “top” lists that have come out over the last few weeks…or days.

  5. Hi,

    As Judy says, I looked into the metrics for these blogs and I can confirm that they’re correct.

    I think the fact that a blog can continue to climb despite no postings can be accounted for in several ways:
    * Longevity. It’s an unfortunate but valid consequence of blog longevity that it will rise up the rankings, simply by dint of there being a lot of ‘vestigial’ links to it in the blogosphere.
    * Two or three months absence isn’t all that significant. I honestly don’t know how often Technorati et al update their respective data but I would be surprised if a couple of months here and there made all that difference.
    * A blog could rise because it links to other active blogs. By indirect linking this would massage the figures.
    * It’s entirely possible that a blog’s absolute figures have indeed fallen, but by a lesser extent than the other bloggers around it in the index. They could fall more quickly by being younger or less linked.

    This is my take on it anyway. Whatever you think of the figures, they represent an attempt to get to the heart of quantifying blog influence, which is a key issue at the moment. So, even if you disagree then at least you’ve got something/someone to disagree with!

  6. This is a great post. It’s a brilliant explanation of what you need to think about when you’re digging into metrics, AND why you need to take the various “influence” indices with a grain of salt. Except yours. Yours is trustworthy because of its transparency, further proving the theory that the more transparent you are, the more credibility you achieve.

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  9. This is the sort of thing that makes us glad you decided not to hang up your blogging gloves (bad analogy, so sue me) just yet. I think it’s an interesting issue how influence changes according to whose metrics you choose to use on a particular day.

    It’s also been a great intro to some new blogs I hadn’t read before, so thanks for that.


  10. Brendan; Don’t you have better things to do on holiday (lol)?

    That said, I do find this index more and more interesting, and not just because I am in it (though that does help of course).

    FYI, Technorati links count for 180 days, anyone who has been in a meme for a period of time has experienced this sudden drop after 6 months. For some, it is a swift kick in the pants.

    John Wagner probably would be shocked to see he is still ranking so high, but in the day when he was updating regularly, he was (and still is) very popular with high-ranking bloggers. We all have him in our blogrolls. I will have to give him a call and let him know. Which brings me to another point. Many of the old timers do a little better because they are included in a number of blogrolls. So, in essence, those links give a baseline from which to start, so that you aren’t having to earn your inlinks from scratch every 180 days.

    You see, blogging is more a marathon than a sprint, though many bloggers treat it as the later and burn out quickly. As much as I love them, indexes, such as this one, sometimes have the effect of making it feel like a sprint. I remember when I first started blogging thinking, “such and such blogger is a has been,” just to see them rise again from the “has been” ashes the next month.

    Not to mention those like Constantin, PR Meets the WWW, that don’t update very often yet are hugely influential because they give so much back to the community.

  11. Hey Brendan, great work on the list and I especially appreciate the disclosure on the metrics you’re using.

    I am definitely not saying that because Online Marketing Blog comes out so highly on the list – we do well on many lists, but because so few lists give details like you have.

    The 100 blog sample size makes it much easier I can imagine, as we manage a list of around 500 search marketing blogs (BIGLIST) that gets updated weekly (blogs added/removed).

    Just in case the door ever opens for other PR blogs to be considered on the PowerPR Index, perhaps you might consider The Flack by Peter Himler? http://theflack.blogspot.com/ Peter’s a well respected PR veteran that I know on/offline and an active PR blogger. I noticed his absence and if you’d give it a thought, that would be great. If not, that’s fine too – no harm in trying. 🙂


    Lee Odden
    Online Marketing Blog

  12. If I have a small busines in the tech world (selling software as a service), and I post in Plaxo Pulse for my users and the world in general how can I translate that to a blog rating or drive up awareness? Do I start a blog? Do I post lotsa comment son blogs in my field?
    How doe s asmall sub <10 person company generate interest, leads and awareness of their allegedly unique service offering…….? As you can see I certainly should not be blogging as my grammar sucks and so does my spelling…;)
    another thing… how cna I track my comements? I hit several sites a day and post here and there… but its har dot track where I left stuff AND if someone started a conversation.

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  14. Pingback: Oops. Got it slightly wrong. « Brendan Cooper - A social media planner in PR

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