I have been writing online conversation reports for clients for a number of years now and during that period of time it would be understandable to think that we have seen significant changes in the social channels that are influential in these reports. However, in almost all of the 60+ online conversation reports I have written, blogs are still the most influential sources for brands, whether it is business-to-business or business-to-consumer. It is for this reason that I decided to share some quick tips on how to identify an influential blog. I should add a caveat that I would use all of these tools together to give me a feel for a blog, so I wouldn’t recommend using one of these tools in isolation as sometimes on their own they can give the wrong impression. In truth, there are loads of tools and gadgets you can use to determine how influential one site is over another. I wrote a post way back in 2008 on the fact that blogger relations shouldn’t be rushed. In it I wrote:

“If you really want to communicate with bloggers my advice would be read, read, do a bit more reading and then double check what you have done before you even begin to start engaging. Believe me, if you do that and take the time out it makes it all the more rewarding when you get a positive response from a blogger like: “thanks for actually taking the time out to read my posts”.

I still agree with that statement, so if you are still interested in identifying influential blogs here are my top tips: 1. How many comments does it get? If a blog has more than three or four comments on an average post then it clearly has an audience that is engaging with it. There are thousands of blogs in the blogosphere that have no comments at all, in which case they are probably talking to nobody! Over time blogs usually gain a reputation and become more influential and that normally means they start to receive more and more comments. Depending on the sector or topic I would say a blog with around 10-30 comments per post is fairly influential and worth a closer look. 2. Check the site’s Page Rank The Google Page Rank is, as Wikipedia describes it:

“A link analysis algorithm, named after Larry Page,[1] used by the Google Internet search engine that assigns a numerical weighting to each element of a hyperlinked set of documents, such as the World Wide Web, with the purpose of “measuring” its relative importance within the set.”

The Google toolbar Page Rank tool is quite a useful indicator in showing how important a site is or not. The tool shows a coloured bar – if half the bar is filled then the blog has a 5/10 page rank. The tool gives a mark out of 10 – 5/10 (like pr-squared.com has) is a fairly good score and anything around that score means the blog is pretty influential although it is not an exact science. To add the page rank tool, first download the Google toolbar, once you have downloaded that then do the following:clip_image002[6] · Go to the spanner drop down menu on the toolbar · Select options · Click tools · Tick the “PageRank” box Alternatively, if you can’t be bothered with all of that you can always use this site to check the site’s page rank. 3. How many people are linking to it? The Yahoo Site Explorer is another great tool from Yahoo for assessing how important a website is. Simply type in the the URL in and hit “Explore URL” – the result will show you how many people link to the site giving you a feel for how influential it is. If the site has good, useful content you can be sure that other people will be linking to it. 4. Check its Alexa Ranking Alexa is another web tool that ranks sites with an algorithm that incorporates page views and reach (the percentage of all web users who have visited that particular site). You can check a site’s ranking here or you install its toolbar by downloading it. 5. Check its Technorati ranking clip_image004[4]Technorati is a blog specific search engine which has been around for some time now. I am not a huge fan of its search facility, as it is a little clunky, but it is pretty useful in identifying useful blog sites if you are searching by topic. Simply type your search criteria into the search bar and hit search. You can select to search blogs or individual posts (see image on right). It is also advisable to do an advanced search while using this search engine. It is worth noting however, that this site cannot search every blog because in order for a blog to come up in a Technorati search, the blogger must have notified Technorati that his/her blog exists. clip_image006[4]Technorati basically has its own version of Google’s page rank. It calls it “authority”. Anything with an authority with more than 50 is certainly worth looking at; More than 150 and in my opinion the blog is pretty influential. In my example on the right, its authority is 439 and it is highly likely that this site is extremely influential. There is no upper limit to the authority score. I am not going to get involved in how you measure influence, that’s an argument for another day, I just wanted to share some easy steps to identify sites without having to use paid for services.

About Chris Norton

Chris Norton is the founder of Prohibition and an award winning communications consultant with more than twenty years’ experience. He was a lecturer at Leeds Beckett University and has had a varied PR career having worked both in-house and in a number of large consultancies. He is an Integrated PR and social media blogger and writes on a wide variety of blogs across a huge amount of topics from digital marketing, social media marketing right through to technology and crisis management.