I’ve been in this blogging game long enough – almost a decade – to know that some parts of it are legit, and other parts are total trash. That’s the way it is in every industry, and there’s no way around it. Unlike other industries though, the blogging and website owner space is made up of a whole bunch of independent people working on our own projects and occasionally crossing paths when interests align.
At those moments, we all need to get on the same page about what’s important, and that usually means relying on a few metrics to compare between sites and make business decisions.
The blogging industry is mature enough now that there are a few metrics that aren’t actually useful (anymore, in some cases). These blogging vanity metrics don’t actually provide meaningful info in terms of comparing sites, whether that’s between your site and mine for your own knowledge or for a brand partnership.
Below are five of the worst offenders – the vainest of the blogging vanity metrics out there. Do you agree? Let me know in the comments!
DA (Domain Authority)
Can 2023 be the year we throw DA in the trash? Please?
I know that Moz – the company that created Domain Authority (DA) as a metric – had the best intentions, hoping to create a proxy for Google’s understanding of the backlink profile power of websites. (Similar to other equivalent metrics, like Ahref’s “Domain Rating.”)
And there was a time when DA (or DR) was helpful for understanding if you stood a chance to rank against other sites – but that time is long over, with the rise of EEAT and niche site expertise. Today, it’s less important that you have a huge backlink profile of sites than that you truly are a trustworthy expert with experience and authority – and you’re able to demonstrate that on your site.
Don’t worry about the DA/DR of sites when doing your keyword research; instead, consider how well you and your site can become the best resource possible on that topic, especially by leaning on other content you’ve already published.
What metric can you consider instead? How about:
- Whether or not the topic fits within your niche
- The number of posts you have on the same/similar topics (i.e. the same destination, the same type of recipe/ingredient/style of preparation, the same craft or activity…)
- Your experience actually doing the topic vs other sites ranking already
Number of Blog Posts
I don’t feel like anyone really flexes by sharing how many posts they have – except they kind of do if you’re in blogging circles or listen to blogging podcasts. Maybe sharing the number of blog posts you have is meant to evoke some sense of your expertise in talking about blogging – like, oh I’ve written 500 posts, so I must know more than you.
Except – as we all know – you can write 500 terrible posts that never get any traffic. Just writing doesn’t make you an expert; it’s choosing the right topics, targeting them in the right way, and distributing them to people to earn traffic that really makes you successful at blogging.
I’d love to disabuse the world of the notion that having more posts is a good thing because hanging onto the idea that more posts = better means that people are hesitant to delete content that they really should get off their site!
Certainly, once you master SEO and figure out how to write for your audience, more content is the best strategy you can have – but don’t listen to any blogger just because they have X many more posts than you do.
Here’s one that really bugs me: when people share their gross annual or monthly income with no additional context about expenses, or the hours they work, or the number of articles they have, or the size of their team…
Don’t get me wrong: I love income transparency and want people to share what they make. (That’s why I do it myself in my case studies!) But it’s also really important to have context for those numbers. You can make a million dollars with your blog – but if you spend $999,999 of that just to run your site, you haven’t really built the level of success you’re claiming.
Admittedly, the real reason this metric irks me is when other people share it with no context; we all fall prey to the thief of joy (comparison), and not having the context to create a true comparison – I know all the work/expenses I have, but I know none of yours – is worse than not sharing your income at all.
For that reason, I rely on tRPM to compare between sites. Finding the number of posts on your competitor’s sites is easy enough, and you can then at least create some sense of equivalence between what you do and what they do. It can give you more peace of mind.
Number of Words (in a Post)
A few years ago in SEO circles, the idea that longer is better also came into being. Everyone was encouraged to create the most comprehensive skyscraper posts possible about each and every topic, and it has ended up destroying the creative souls of many great blog writers.
The number of words in a post has no bearing on your ability to rank for the keyword you’re targeting.
What’s more important is understanding user intent and “needs met” and writing content that accomplishes that goal. Of course, learning to understand user intent and meeting reader needs is hands down the hardest part of SEO right now, so this is no simple task. But it is the key to SEO success in the future.
So it’s worth throwing out the idea that writing more words means you better understand user intent and meet their needs – it doesn’t. Write the best post possible to answer the question and provide relevant information for the reader, and then hit publish.
Total Blog Traffic
This one sort of shoots me in the foot, but stick with me: total blog traffic is a really useless metric of how successful any one post is (or can be) on a site.
You often hear bloggers splashing big numbers around, but it’s a really uninformative metric to determine whether you’re good at getting some traffic to all your posts, or if you get all your traffic on only 10 posts and the rest get no traffic at all.
Brands and businesses ask for total blog traffic like it will predict future performance for whatever you create with them – spoilers: it won’t! (Especially if you step outside your EEAT to do it!)
Instead, it’s more informative to share your average pageviews per post; sure, you’ll have some outliers on both sides, but it’s far more informative of your actual site performance than some big total number that actually means nothing.
Bonus: Number of Followers
I don’t talk much about social media on this site because I don’t love building my entire business on another person’s platform – but I couldn’t write this list without hopping on my soapbox about it.
I just don’t understand why social media following is still a relevant metric, when everyone in the industry is well aware that nobody reaches their entire audience when they post on social media. We all know we should be using average impressions/plays per post, throwing out the huge viral outliers, but everyone keeps putting their head down and just paying people with the most followers even when they have terrible engagement.
Anyway, I’m finally not the only one sounding the alarm; experts like James Nord from Fohr are saying 2023 will be the start of a shift toward ROI for influencers/social media people. Finally!
So what can you do with these metrics? I doubt anyone’s going to stop sharing total blog traffic or total followers in their Media Kits… Instead, I’d encourage you to just be more skeptical when you see other bloggers sharing these numbers – and also start sharing more important and relevant metrics when you do share your numbers with people.
What do you think about these blogging vanity metrics? Did I hit the target or miss the mark? Let me know in the comments below!