7 Signs Other than Traffic that TRULY Indicate a Blog Article’s Success

by Marcus Sheridan

bloggin successHave you ever written a blog post and within a few minutes or hours of publishing you just knew it was something special? In the beginning days of TSL, back when it was me and the crickets, I used to write blog posts with such a high anticipation as to ‘what might be’.  But, inevitably, because my site got the traffic of a backroad in the desert, nothing ever seemed to amount to anything.

But over the last 5 months or so, as I’ve said before, the times have drastically changed. Somehow, as I stumbled from one post to the next, the audience grew. And with this growth, I’ve now had the opportunity to analyze the true characteristics of a successful blog article versus one that’s, well, not so successful.

Success Equals Action

When it comes down to it folks, great writing leads to action. And as the saying goes, ‘Actions speak louder than words.’ This statement could not be in truer when it comes to the blogosphere. You see, I don’t really judge an article’s success based on the number of tweets, comments, or even views it gets. Yeah, sure that can be somewhat of a sign but have you really done anything if 100 people leave you 100 different versions of ‘nice job’ in your comment section?

For example, about a year ago, I wrote a guest post on ‘The Change Blog’. Since it was published, that little post has gotten a meager 230,000 views on Stumble Upon and has also been ‘liked’ over 1,000 times on Facebook. Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, yes and no. Although it has produced hundreds of visitors to TSL, I’m not aware of any clients that I’ve gained from it or even loyal readers.

Now don’t get me wrong here, high numbers are all fine and dandy, especially in the beginning, but depth and breadth of action are what carry the day as a blogger experiences more success and a richer understanding of online fulfillment.

7 Signs Other than Traffic that Truly Indicate a Blog Article’s Success

So that’s what I’ve done with this article today. I want to discuss the essential factors that truly measure the success of a blog article, and I’m excited to get your thoughts as well.

1. Lurkers Come Out- The quickest way I can tell that I’ve just written a great article is when the ‘lurkers’ come out. And who are the ‘lurkers’? John Falchetto wrote a great article about this but in most cases, they are roughly 90% or more of a blog’s readership. This majority comes by to learn, not ‘interact’ (thru commenting, tweeting, etc). They are often loyal, but they do it in silence. And it is this silent majority that in many ways is the essence of a blogger’s success.

This is why one of the best indicators for me of a successful post is when I see a number of commenters without avatars in the comment section. In other words, if someone leaves a comment on my blog who doesn’t have an avatar, I know they are likely not a ‘blogger’ per se,  but rather a business owner, a company employee learning about marketing, etc. It’s these people that often turn into my actual clients and are a great indicator as to a blogger’s ability to engage his or her community on a higher level.

2. DM’s on Twitter- Although regular tweets are nice, direct messages on Twitter from readers give me way more satisfaction, as I know the sender has no other intention than a true 1 on 1 interaction. An example of this came with my now semi-infamous article about the ‘Biggest Blogging Jerk Ever’ , when at least 5 or 6 people  that day alone direct messaged me to ask questions about ‘Blogger X’.

3. Personal Emails- Very similar to DMs on Twitter, when personal emails come rolling in after a post you know you’ve done something great. The best example of this I’ve ever experienced was when I asked my entire community on TSL to help me come up with my tagline (Thanks again Mark Harai!). From this post alone, I received double-digit emails, most of which came from my wonderful ‘lurkers’, suggesting various tagline ideas.

Also, from a business standpoint, I can tell an article was effective when an unusually high amount of potential clients fill out a contact form expressing an interest in one of my services immediately after posting a service-related article (Monday’s post was a perfect example of this).

4. Comment Length- My friend Adam Toporek left an awesome comment on TSL yesterday that really got me thinking about this. Here’s what he said in regards to my article “Massive Blog Growth: Do You Have the Time It Takes?”

…..I’ve been out of the loop for a few days with offline life, and I was going to drop by a few of my favorite blogs this evening and do some commenting. I got stuck on this post for over 30 minutes. It was a great conversation, and I was reading all of the comments. When I finally got to the end, I noticed how small the scroll bar was on the browser. That’s when I realized – wow, this is a lot of text!

So, I did an experiment and copied the text on this page into Word; it is around 18,000 words with the comments. Yes, Marcus, that’s 1/5 of a good-sized modern novel for a single blog post!

Upon contemplating Adam’s words, I realized that even though that particular article may not have had the most comments of any article I’ve ever written, it had far and away the best conversation and most words of any previous comment section. In fact, a few people, like Tisha, Elena, Davina, Diana, Ayo, Tony, Shonali, Alex, Paul, Stu, Erica, John, JK, and Bill all contributed comments over 300 words each! And some, like Shonali’s and Tisha’s, were much longer.

My point is that between my thoughts and your incredible comments, we ended up with over 18, 500 words!!! Considering Seth Godin has written books that long (or short, depending on how you look at it ;-) ) I think we did pretty darn well my friends!! How ‘bout them apples??!

5. The 2nd Day Phenomena- An easy way to know if a blog article is going to do very well is by the performance it has during the second day. Similar to the way Hollywood judges a movie by how well it does its 2nd weekend, if a blog article gets more views the second day than the first, it’s probably going to be a hit. For example, my ‘Blogging Jerk’ article received around 700 views its first day and then 1200 the second. As soon as I saw this, I knew it was going to do very, very well.

6. Continued Comments- As most of you know, I usually post every 3 days. There are many reasons why I do this, but one is because most of the time, the conversation and comments pretty much die out by day three. But there are certain cases when an article’s comments will continue to grow for many weeks. For example, the article I did about  ’15 Bloggers that are Changing the Blogosphere as We Know It’ got at least one comment a day for the first 2 weeks after it was published.

7. Guest Post Solicitations- The final sign that you’re blog post is a huge success comes from the kind solicitations of other bloggers asking you for a guest post on their blog. To me, this is a wonderful form a flattery, as it really shows the person respects your work and trusts you enough to invite you over for dinner at their place (blog). For example, last week I got 6 separate guest post invitations from some of my amazing friends and acquaintances in the blogosphere. (Sorry Chris Brogan, but I’m still going to have to turn you down for now ;-) ) Needless to say, these kind petitions were very, very humbling and appreciated.

Your Turn: So there you have it folks, 7 signs that truly indicate the success of a blog post. Now I’ve got a few questions that I’m very curious to hear your thoughts on. First, are there any indicators you feel I’ve left off the list that should be on there that you’ve noticed from you blogging experience?  Also, do you disagree with any of the ones I mentioned above? And finally, of the 7 I’ve mentioned, which one is the most important indicator of success to YOU?

Jump in everyone, I expect this conversation to be a great one…. :-)

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