Tracking Results and Measuring Success : Competitive and Diagnostic Search Metrics (part 5) - Tracking the Blogosphere, Search Engine Robot Traffic Analysis

11/8/2012 3:04:44 AM

6. Tracking the Blogosphere

The blogosphere is a very dynamic part of the Web—always fresh and constantly updated. News tends to break in the blogosphere, and in Twitter, before it hits mainstream media or the Web at large. Tracking the blogosphere will help you stay current on both your industry and the SEO industry. Major influencers tend to hang out in the blogosphere as well as have their own blogs. Identifying these influencers is the first step to reaching them.

Here are four major uses for tracking blogs:

Reputation monitoring

A significant component of reputation monitoring relates to the discussion in this section about domain and brand mentions across the Web. Reputation monitoring takes it one step further, where you look to identify problems and risks to your reputation as they materialize on the Web.

For example, knowing when someone starts to bad-mouth your brand somewhere on the Web is important. Tracking down those issues early and addressing them quickly is a wise thing to do.

Tracking buzz and public relations campaigns

A closely related activity is tracking buzz and the response to your PR campaigns. When you make a major press push of some sort or you succeed in getting a write-up about your website on an influential blog, you should monitor the ripple effect across the rest of the Web.

Using the type of brand tracking we’ve already discussed can be a great way to do that. For example, did the number of mentions you received on the Web this week increase significantly over the number of mentions the week before?

Identifying potential influencers

Identifying influencers is a key part of link building. Establishing yourself as a recognized expert is an important part of your content strategy. Part of that is creating world-class content, but this won’t mean much unless you get the word out somehow. A great way to do that is to reach out and develop relationships with the key influencers.

Competitive analysis

If you can do this type of research for your own site, why not do it for your competitors’ sites? You can see reputation problems that are developing for them, or see the impact of their media campaigns as they roll them out.

7. Tracking Your Blog(s)

Blogs offer a lot of different benefits to the online marketer. They can offer a great way to position yourself or the team behind your site as experts. For that reason, you can reach major influencers as well as a broad audience of people at the same time. This can become a nice source of links as a part of your link-building campaign.

7.1. Blog subscribers

Measuring the number of subscribers to your blog is one basic way to monitor the blog’s progress. One way to do this is to create your RSS feed with FeedBurner and have users use that RSS feed instead of any other solution, such as the one that comes with your blog software. By having users subscribe to the FeedBurner-based RSS feed, you can get much more granular statistics on your subscriber base, as shown in Figure 26.

Figure 26. FeedBurner stats

As you can see in the figure, you get data on the growth of your readers over time, as well as a breakout of your subscribers showing which feed readers they are using. Be aware that although this measurement is pretty inaccurate, it can still give you an idea of where you stand. Note that in Figure 9-39, Bloglines is used by about 10% of this blog’s readers.

You can also get some data regarding how many of the people who are subscribing to your blog or to your competitors’ blogs are using Google Reader or Bloglines to do so. Figure 27 shows an example of how such a report looks in Bloglines.

Figure 27. Bloglines subscriber information

Figure 9-40 shows that 394 people are subscribing to Google Blogoscoped ( using Bloglines. You can perform a similar check in Google Reader to see how many people are subscribing to the blog using Google Reader. As there are many different types of readers out there besides Google Reader and Bloglines, this data is limited in its scope, but it is still extremely useful for telling you something about how many people subscribe to your blog, and for its use in competitive analysis.


Another way to take this analysis deeper is to look for specific reader user agents in your logfiles. For example, you could use this to find out how many My Yahoo! readers you have.

7.2. Blog links

There are a few ways to extract data on the number of links to your posts. One is to use Technorati to see the number of Reactions (i.e., links) to your posts. You can also use either Google Webmaster Tools or Bing Webmaster Tools to track the number of links to your blog.

As we outlined in the discussion on link tracking, you can use these tools to get link data on your website. You can also take a more granular look at your data. For example, if you have a blog at, you can pull a report from Google Webmaster Tools (or your favorite tool of choice) and sort your spreadsheet on the URLs of the pages receiving the links. When you are done with this, your data might look something like Table 2.

Table 2. Sorted link report

You can then find the end of the links that go to the blog and see how many total links you have. So, for example, if the last link is found on line 12,367 of the spreadsheet, the total number of links to the blog is 12,367 – 8,437 = 3,930. That can get you a raw count of inbound links to the blog. To go further, you can start analyzing what parts of the blog have the most links as well.

If you want additional data on the links to your blog, you can sign up to use Enquisite Optimizer, formerly known as Enquisite Optimizer, which will additionally allow you to track the traffic into your site from your links. You can organize it to track on a per-URL basis, on a per-domain basis, or even on a custom group of URLs or domains as a single item. Better still, you can also track the sales that result from such links.

8. Search Engine Robot Traffic Analysis

Understanding how robots are spidering your site is another thing that the expert SEO practitioner should know how to do. For one thing, spidering frequency is a clue as to which pages on your site have the highest PageRank and trust, because Google crawls the Web in reverse PageRank order. It can also help you detect spidering problems on your site.

You can use the tools we discuss in this section to help you find potential spidering issues, and analyze how important the search engines consider your content to be. You should be looking for clues of SEO problems, such as robots.txt blocking the crawlers, architectural problems, or even signs of a penalty (as might be signified by a big drop in crawling frequency).

However, it is important to know that this data will not tell you everything. For example, the fact that a web page was crawled does not mean it will be placed in the index. The page will still need to pass some additional tests to achieve such placement (such as the presence of unique content and enough links to justify its inclusion).

For pages that are indexed, you can look at how often the spiders visit/crawl your pages versus how often the engine actually shows a new version of your page in the index. To do this, look at the last cached date the search engine reported, and compare it with your crawling data.

Tools that perform log analysis include Webtrends, Unica Affinium NetInsight, and Lyris HQ Web Analytics. These are well-known web analytics packages that offer the option of analyzing your logfiles. Figure 28 shows a snapshot of a robot report from NetInsight.

Figure 28. NetInsight robot report


Google acquired Urchin in March 2005 ( Urchin’s JavaScript-based solution became Google Analytics. However, the logfile analysis software version of Urchin continues to be available as well (

Other logfile analysis programs include:

8.1. Google Webmaster Tools

You can also get detailed information about spidering activity on your own website using Google Webmaster Tools. Figure 29 shows a snapshot for one site.

Figure 29. Google Webmaster Tools spider activity report

This provides a great visual snapshot. One question that emerges from this data that this publisher may want to consider is why the time per page jumped up from 300 milliseconds to 650 milliseconds or so in mid-December. This may be the result of a change in the site architecture or a change in the hosting arrangements for the website. When you see these types of changes, it can be a flag that something happened with your website, and you should investigate it.
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