IzeaRanks & RealRank – How Many Lies Can You Tell Your Advertisers?

Lets face it, bloggers love stats and rankings, even if they are based upon meaningless data. For some it is an ego thing, or just a measure of their own worth or progress to achieve whatever goals they have set for themselves, and for others it is monetary. If you want to sell advertising on your blog other than PPC or CPM based, you need to have some kind of carrot to wave at advertisers to encourage them to part with their advertising dollars.

Adage Power 150

Over the last few days for instance I noticed that Advertising Age have rejigged their Adage Power150 which I previously discussed a few months ago. It is great to see that Google PageRank has a lot less importance, and the inclusion of Yahoo link data, but there is an over reliance on Technorati.

Technorati is easily gamed, because they count links from the sidebar and footer, which can easily be encouraged by creating widgets and WordPress Themes. They do try to clean up their own Top 100 list, manually removing blogs that seem to have an overbearing number of links from viral content.
There are also some aspects of how a theme is designed that have a huge affect on how many links Technorati claim from a single blog, or the number of blogs that Technorati think are at a single domain.
Technorati currently accounts for 70 of the possible 150 total points a blog can receive, and the top ranking blogs can gain close to a full quota, unlike PageRank for which only 6 or 7 points can reasonably be attained.

Adage Power 150 changes

You will notice that a lot of the Yahoo references show zero – values returned from an API need to be cached and discounted if they are zero, or return a number that is a significant change. I have seen Yahoo numbers drop from 30K links down to less than 9K, only for them to rebound.
It should also be noted that Yahoo also give credit for nofollow links from places like Delicious, Stumbleupon, and even blog comments. Not all links are created equal.

There is a bonus with the changes – I have gone from around 30 on the list to 17 or 18, and Adage is a low but consistent traffic source and has certainly extended my reach with new subscribers.

Top 100 Make Money Blogs

Another list that sends traffic daily is Mark’s, but again it suffers from a number of anomalies.

Top 100 Make Money Blogs

First of all PageRank plays a visible factor, or I am sure Yaro would be placed a few points higher, he used to be a PR6, and whilst it might not affect position so much, I have highlighed the other sites that currently have a penalty.

There also seems to be a problem with the Technorati rating on a number of blogs being much lower than it should be. I am not sure if this is a canonical domain problem, or some kind of new factor being applied to specific domains for data accessed by API.

Niches

Many niches don’t link out as much as meta blogging and technology blogs, and those in related niches such as venture capital.

As an example regular reader Lucia also has a knitting blog – I know that at times she gets 3 or 4 times as much traffic as me, even without social media influence.

PR3 (I remember it being a 4?), Technorati rank 44,000 (141 blog reactions), Alexa around 200K

The current statistical measures people use just don’t relate to the vast majority of bloggers.

Existing Stats Are Not Accurate?

Alexa is based upon toolbar usage – though their own toolbar isn’t very useful for many people, webmasters in the meta blogging niche can recommend the highly useful Search Status toolbar for Firefox that feeds Alexa with the same data.

Compete used to suffer from poor uptake of their Firefox toolbar because of problems with Firefox, but when Compete was added to the Search Status toolbar, again meta blogging and SEO blogs saw a boost.

With Technorati being used as a factor in so many monetization services, various methods have been used to boost links from other bloggers. Whilst they might get manually edited out of the top100 blogs on Technorati (and I have written how to avoid this several months ago), their numbers still get reported through the API though there is no guarantee that will last forever.

What would top bloggers do if the API for Technorati starts to report zero for anyone that Technorati feel is gaming the system?

Quantcast

Quantcast is accurate, but only if you include their tracking code on your blog and get “Quantified

If you don’t, you end up claiming they are inaccurate in your end of year stats ;) – sorry Rand, I couldn’t resist that one.

If you compare our data and the SELand data to what Compete, Quantcast or Alexa are reporting, you can see how tragically inaccurate those services are. Sadly, that’s no anomally. Everytime I get access to a client’s visit data, I’m always curious to check the three and have not once found accuracy, even on a relative basis. Third party traffic metrics still have a very, very long way to go.

Just to give you an idea of what happens if you don’t add tracking code to get quantified, here is a comparison between this domain and DoshDosh, Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land & SEOmoz.

note:the Quantcast images will display much clearer in a feed reader, they are limited on display width on the blog and forced to a smaller size

Search Engine Land traffic is directly measured, as is my own, the other sites are just a panel estimate. As SEL effectively makes the others almost invisible, lets replace SEL with Marketing Pilgrim

You can see some clear traffic spikes in the panel estimates, probably due to click traffic from other sites which have Quantcast code embedded such as Digg

In fact of the major social news and bookmarking sites, only Digg and Propeller are Quantified.

Why IzeaRanks IS Needed, But Might Be Rejected

When you create a page on a blog to help you sell your advertising inventory, how can an advertiser trust the traffic figures you give them, and why should they have to research whether you in some way gamed the statistics?

If you are a large publisher and it is a significant advertiser, you might be willing to give them access to some real statistics, such as Google Analytics through shared access, or your advertising administration system might provide reasonable stats to advertisers. As an example B5Media use Valueclick – I would hope Valueclick have some tools to provide statistics that can be verified before an advertiser makes a purchase.

Certainly Problogger isn’t listed as Quantified

For smaller publishers it would be possible for them to use existing services like Quantcast, but they don’t, because using Quantcast isn’t being encouraged by the people that count… the monetization services and advertisers.

For all the negative publicity Izea has had due to their PayPerPost service, one thing remains clear – they are an advertising company looking to help bloggers make money. They are not a competitor.

I would be more worried if I was placing tracking code on my blog if Izea in some way were a competitor creating content, such as Performancing with their Metrics service, which Izea themselves almost purchased though then it was a different animal, and not just a branded version of an existing tracking service.

I am a firm believer in not making things too easy for competitors, well with this blog I don’t care so much, but certainly for niche sites. I don’t worry too much about monetization services gaining stats, and I never looked on MyBlogLog having access being a problem. I am not sure if Blogcatalog are collecting anything, but again, they are not exactly running a blog network.

Izearanks

The IzeaRanks interface is honestly pretty basic compared to what is offered by Quantcast as far as raw traffic stats, and you are certainly missing all the segmentation data (though I am not sure how reliable that is).

Izea’s “RealRank” is based upon the following factors (from their announcement)

  • 70% weighted towards visitors per day
  • 20% weighted towards amount of ACTIVE inbound links per day
  • 10% weighted towards pageviews per day

I am not sure whether Izea have come up with a way to have only “Real” pageviews and visitors counted, as many stats packages have problems with the pre-fetching of pages from Stumbleupon causing massive errors.

The active inbound links is an interesting statistic. Links that deliver real traffic. It is relatively easy to build up links and gain PageRank from obscure sites, or to game rankings with themes and widgets, but those links rarely get clicked on by visitors. Even blogrolls are pretty much ignored by visitors unless you have an unfair advantage of your sitename starting with the letter A ;)

Many people state that the value of RealRank will be based upon how many bloggers use it. That is partially true, but the real traffic and unique visitor values will be valuable to advertisers even if just one blogger signed up for the service.

I am disappointed that Izea are not doing anything with feeds, though it is much easier to do that with WordPress blogs than blogs on Blogspot, especially with the way Google have now integrated Blogger and Feedburner. The technical skill that would be needed to feed a feed into izea and back out to Feedburner would cause countless technical support problems, and Izea have enough technical support problems with some of their other services, and no end of headaches.

There is an API, I am sure some smart people will jump on it and use it to provide something useful, though I am not sure how quickly that will happen. The usage restrictions of 5000 calls per day is generous.

It is true that Google might currently look on javascript from Izea as an indication of writing paid posts, but hopefully with Social Spark that will be cleared up. Social Spark will offer total transparency. If you are doing nothing wrong, it probably isn’t going to be a major problem even if Google clock up even more false positives for a short while. If you are doing something naughty, you are probably going to be caught anyway.

Do You Have An Advertising Sales Page?

If you have an advertising sales page on your blog, have no doubt that advertisers will start to expect the availability of real statistics, not something you quote from AWStats.
AWStats typically reports around 6x as many page views compared to javascript based tracking on my blog, and quite a few more unique visitors.

You could include Quantcast, but you might as well include IzeaRank at the same time especially if some smart people come up with a way to present the stats effectively.
I can see Paul’s point at Mashable, that Izea maybe should have concentrated on the whole of the internet, and not just the blogosphere, but you could argue that the BBC or the Washington Post should be included in the Technorati Top100 as well, because they offer RSS feeds.

In my mind the individual rating of blogs by RealRank is meaningless unless it it put into context of their topical niche, such as I could compare Mashable with Techcrunch on Quantcast and discover that neither are quantified, so the statistics are totally worthless.

I can understand why Darren doesn’t necessarily need it, or other B5 Media Blogs, but many niche bloggers do need something they can use to demonstrate their relative worth. Just a week ago a key tip from Shoemoney on Darren’s blog was about a clear advertising page.

Is there a difference between clear and transparent/honest/uncoloured ?

How much creative license should people use to sell advertising?

Liked this post? Follow this blog to get more. Follow

Comments

  1. says

    Hey Andy, you know what? I was very keen about this initially but now that I see how easy one can flag a site as ‘not a blog’, I am glad I took off three of my (good) blogs from PPP. I applied for reconsideration and got my PR back after I install some no-follow plugins, including your No-Dupes.

    I love competition and rankings but seriously, those tiny boxes where one can just tick at fancy makes me nervous. Someone reported one of my blogspot to Blogger as spam just because that surviving one still has PR. *roll eyes*

  2. says

    As always, thank you for the great feedback Andy. I believe we located the issue around the lower traffic reporting today and should be deploying it after it is run through QA. We really like the idea of including RSS feeds subs, but have struggled with a reliable way to do so. I am all ears if somebody has an idea.

    lilian:
    The system is designed to help us spot problem submissions and is merely a flagging system for us to take a close look at a site. It is by no means an instant process. That said, perhaps it should still be a feature that requires login.

  3. says

    “It is true that Google might currently look on javascript from Izea as an indication of writing paid posts, but hopefully with Social Spark that will be cleared up.”

    Andy, I just had my blog reconsidered and restored to a PR4 a couple of days ago with the IZEA code in place. All of the old PPP posts are still there, just nofollowed (all are over 30 days old). This is clear indication that the IZEA script in place does not necessarily mean I’m writing paid posts.

    • says

      Hi RT,

      Great to hear that – I have also read a comment by Ted over on Darren’s post that the code for IzeaRanks is actually different to that used by PPP bloggers, though the PPP code works for IzeaRanks, so even less worries.

      Did you happen to nofollow every link, or just the ones to the advertiser?
      I am not sure whether you had any additional editorial links in your reviews, it depends on what terms you wrote them under.

        • says

          To to add in, I also requested reconsideration from Google with my PPP script still installed. I only placed the no follow tag on sponsored links. Additionally, I removed a lot of the “spam looking” posts that I made for PayU2Blog.

          Two weeks after my request, my PageRank was restored to my previous 3.

  4. says

    Everything can be gamed is the bottom line I think. It’s up to these sites to do their best to prevent the gaming.
    Alexa is so useless for data Andy as you know.
    As someone who uses Izea/Payperpost for a number of sites, when you are hiring the bloggers, they should stop altering rates for pagerank. I know the console lets us choose their ranking system, but I don’t pay any attention to it at all. Most bloggers don’t either. Ted, please do your bloggers a favor and stop using pagerank for pricing.
    When something can be taken away so easily be another company, it makes no sense at all.

  5. says

    I’m interested in seeing how the ROIRank will work. A ranking system that can aptly computer and compare a blog’s conversion rate with other sites would be of significant value to an advertiser, as well as the blogger, especially if the blogger has low traffic but has shown an ability to converts sales at a much higher than average rate.

  6. says

    Interesting points Andy. I think there are major flaws in every ranking system, but I still check on some of them because it gives me a little extra motivation. Even though I know it really doesn’t matter where I am ranked it still helps a little bit.

  7. says

    Andy, little off topic, but I found something very interesting. “Matt Cutts, a key Google engineer, used to work for the National Security Agency. Google wants to hire more people with security clearances, so that they can peddle their corporate assets to the spooks in Washington. …” The blog is down now but you get this here

    Regards,
    Igor

  8. says

    If you have an advertising sales page on your blog, have no doubt that advertisers will start to expect the availability of real statistics, not something you quote from AWStats.
    AWStats typically reports around 6x as many page views compared to javascript based tracking on my blog, and quite a few more unique visitors.

    Actually Andy, javascript based tracking reports much less visitors than real. The stats from awstats might appear a big inflated if you compare it with the stats from, let’s say Google Analytics but in reality Awstats is far more accurate than Analytics. The reason: many people in your niche have ad blockers installed. I have ABP installed in Firefox and use it if I use my dialup. And here’s the thing: ad blockers not only disable ads, they can stop tracking scripts from loading, which means the stats aren’t recorded for that visitor.

    AWstats on the other hand is server-side and there’s no need to embed a code into your pages. So it tracks almost all of your visitors…

  9. says

    Thanks again for the great post Andy. Manipulating data for advertiser’s is not a new game :-).
    I don’t know how you can get a totally honest and open “report” of rankings/relevance that are unbiased, untainted and are widely accepted. Google is the closest thing available but they become less credible because they have something to gain from rankings i.e. directly profit from a sites ranking or lack thereof.
    Is the Internet to vast to come up with standardized “rankings” and who will pay for it?

  10. says

    In my eyes Ted Murphy brought hope back to Izea/PPP by announcing at the ITM that Google’s PR was to be dropped from SS & PPP.

  11. says

    In the end it doesn’t matter in my opinion on how many different features there’ll be for advertisers to look at when it comes to how much traffic a site might be receiving, it’s all pretty much useless data anyways.

    The entire idea of izearanks in example is nice, but in the end with autobrowsers and such the entire idea can be put to waste again as well since those might easily add up (unique) pageviews to the blogs just to get ranked higher.

    You’ll get additions added against the usage of such systems in their ToS and suddenly things like blogmad and whatever more traffic exchanger systems quite a lot of people still use can’t be used anymore.

    Gets rid of some of the competition though in the ranks, but on the other hand it’s just one of the potential issues with a system like realrank. In return yet another ranking system will be designed, it’ll be outsmarted and the circle goes around once more.

Trackbacks