What’s the value of ranking blogs?

And how does one accomplish this in any meaningful way that presents utility?  If such a list were to exist (and there are many, many such lists out there) what are the important factors and how do you determine them?  Is traffic paramount?  And how do you determine a blog’s traffic without the owner disclosing it?  Some folks use Alexa…I doubt the validity of Alexa. The thumbnail for my site there is still the “parked” site with ads on it.  I’ve been using WannabeWino.com for about 6 months…so that suggests to me it doesn’t update and isn’t accurate.  Not to mention it says I have virtually no traffic…which is not true!

How about Technorati authority?  Well, again, not terribly accurate, doesn’t update as often as you’d like, and doesn’t catch anywhere near the number of links that actually come into your site.  Again, I know this for a fact as I have lots of people linking to me that don’t show up on Technorati.

So then, what inspired this post, there’s what Pamela did about a month and a half ago over at Enobytes.  She Googled “wine blogs” and then weeded out the results that were commercial sites, relists of other blogs, or hadn’t updated in 3 months, etc., thereby devising “Google’s Top 100 Wine Blogs.”  My blog didn’t show up.  In fact, you could have scrolled through 60 pages of Google results and still not found me.  Yet my blog has been around for 2 years, has decent traffic, plenty of incoming links, etc.  What was I lacking?  As I pointed out in her post, the term “wine blog” was missing.  I decided then I wanted to do an experiment and see what would happen if I changed the title of my blog to include the words “wine blog.”  Well, it worked, I’m now on page 4 of the Google Results, which I think would put my blog at around #20 now.

What was the point of this?  Simply to point out that there is a flaw in creating a list of best blogs as there’s really not a great method to quantify it in any meaningful way.  It took less than a month (and probably less than that, I forgot to check until just about 4 weeks in), simply by adding the words “wine blog” to my site, to move my blog from non-existent in 60+ pages of results all the way up to page 4.

Ultimately, I don’t really see the utility of attempting to rank wine blogs.  So many different types exist, from review blogs, to winery blogs, to wine business blogs, they all cover different facets of wine life and focus on different audiences and purposes. The best way I’ve found to discover new wine blogs is through the blogrolls of blogs I like.  I figure if the author likes them enough to list them, I’ll check them out…and then find more from there!  That’s how I ended up finding wine blogs in the first place.  I read The Pour, and followed the blogroll from there, to others, to the point where I now have over 300 wine blogs in my Google Feed Reader.  My advice: find a wine blogger you like, and read his or her blogroll and move on from there!

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10 Responses

  1. “find a wine blogger you like, and read his or her blogroll and move on from there!”

    Could not agree more!

  2. I, too, could not agree more. Great post Megan! Rankings are not terribly useful. Now, please excuse me while I go add “wine blog” to the title of domaine547…

  3. Searching other people’s bookmarks in delicious is also a good way to find interesting stuff to read (not to mention digg, mixx etc).

    As you’ve shown – lists drawn up by googling a particular term are just lists of blogs or sites who’ve focussed (intentionally or not) on particular terms.

  4. I agree too that rankings are basically meaningless as there are few objective measures that are appropriate. I think we can all judge on our own how our blogs are doing, by measures such as increased traffic.

    Ranking lists appear to be most popular to those who have ranked high. Yet the artificiality of the rankings should make them think twice.

  5. Great post. I agree with you…the best way to find like minded people is to look at the blog rolls on other blogs.
    However, I kinda write for a very small group of people…and myself, so if no one reads my zany little blog I’m not too bothered.

  6. I think the best questions are (a) do other wine bloggers look to your site with any regularity; and (b) do you provide a service outside the wine blogging circle?

    Question (a) can be answered with blogrolls and links, not necessarily hits. Why? Several reasons. First, as noted above, hits are not accurately measured. Second, some sites seem to get a lot of automated hits from RSS feeds or search engines (I have a cartoon site I haven’t updated in almost a year, and it gets hundreds of hits a day, seemingly at random). Blogrolls and links, though, tell you that other people found your entire site, or a particular post of sufficient interest that they wanted to tell everybody else about it.

    What about service outside the circle? That is probably best measured by seeing where your hits come from. If all your hits come from other bloggers, even if you get a boatload, you are big AMONG bloggers, but you haven’t broken outside that circle. If, on the other hand, you’re getting hits from elsewhere, then you’re providing a service. Where? Not just from googling “wine blog.” Maybe, though, from googling “good white wine under $20,” or “2005 Jean-Pierre Robinot” or “C. Donatiello.” That means somebody was looking for information and you gave it to them.

    Also, if you look at that list of “wine blogs,” half of the weren’t. Instead, they were extensions of existing mainstream commercial media. Does Steve Heimoff blog? Yeah, I guess so, but is he a blogger? No. He’s a well-established professional wine writer with an existing following, the benefits of a big magazine’s commercial footprint, and a blog. How about Eric Asimov? You’ve got to be kidding me! That’ not a “blog.” That’s an on-line extension of his NY Times column.

    Take a look at Enobytes list. Let’s just look at five, #1, #25, # 50 and #75 and #100.

    #1 Vinography- Yahoo shows 176,700 links. MSN shows THREE. Yup, three. Okay, go with Yahoo.

    #25 The Fine Wine Blog from Berry Bros. & Rudd- Yahoo shows 40,838 links.

    #50 Box Wines Blog- 8,108 links. Remember that one.

    #75 Dragon Phoenix Wine Blog- 637 links. Yup, six-hundred-thirty-seven links.

    #100 Joes’ Wine- 9,100 links. Wait, isn’t 9,100 more than 637? Yup, that’s what I remember from first grade.

    Okay, so let’s grab a few that aren’t on the list, like this fine blog right here.

    #?? Wannabe Wino- 15,300 links. How can you have that many different sites linking back to you and be behind a site that is almost invisible?

    #?? 2 Days per Bottle- 11,400 links. You’re kicking my butt, girl, but I’m still top 50.

    The Passionate Foodie- 13,500 links

    Eating Leeds- 2,710

    Domaine 547- 20,900

    The bottom line for me? If I have the respect of my blogging and wine-loving peers, and I provide a service to wine lovers, I am happy.

  7. dhonig, I do too blog! nyah nyah! Hey, seriously, just because I’m (in your words) “a well-established professional wine writer with an existing following” doesn’t mean that I can’t blog. What’s the difference between my blog (or my blogs, including at Wine Enthusiast) and any other blog? I report, rant, opine, tell it like I see it, analyze, poke fun, criticize, celebrate, etc. etc. just like the others. Besides, you’ve commented on my blog many, many times (and thank you for that), so I think that you do believe it’s a blog.

  8. Steve, you blog. I said you blog. You do. You blog like crazy. But IMHO you’re not a blogger. You’re an established writer with a blog (and hey man, huge kudos to you- do you have any idea how many virgins I would sacrifice to make a living doing what you do? Seriously, I’m in awe).

    Let me use a more mainstream comparison, political blogs, which have a better foothold than we wine folks do. Kos (Markos Moulitsas) is a blogger. He started with Daily Kos and turned it into something. Arianna Huffington has a blog, but she’s not a blogger. She did not create her public existence through a blog, but instead used her notoriety/populatiry to start a blog. See the difference? It’s not a knock, merely an observation.

  9. Thanks for the excellent discussion all.

  10. [...] I said, why not, all the while keeping in mind the limitations in blog rankings that others have previously pointed to. Now, technical issues kept me from getting the rankings in time to write my [...]

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