How do you determine if a blog or website is "successful"? Well, if it's your blog or website, you largely get to set the goals, and determine for yourself if those goals have been met. However, if you think you might eventually want to attract advertisers, you'll at least need to be aware of what standards and measures are used in the industry to rank and evaluate blogs. These include backlinks, Alexa ratings, feed subscriptions, traffic, and page rank.
One of those standards is the number of "backlinks," which include the number of times other bloggers or webmasters have linked to your site, as well as the number internal links (links from one post or article to another within the same site) there are on your site.
There are a number of tools online for seeing how many people are linking to you. Your own stats program should provide you with information about which websites are sending traffic to yours (also see What You Can Learn from Your Stats). Two free tools online are the iWebTool backlink Checker, and the Yahoo Inlinks Site Explorer. The iWebTool will check only sites from external sources. Yahoo gives you a choice of whether you want to include links "from all pages," or "except this domain."
So, what can you do with this information?
It's always a good idea to know who is linking to you. Checking your backlinks will help you to know who is driving traffic to your site, and who is writing about your site. Following those backlinks, then commenting on the linking blogs (perhaps also linking to those blogs, if appropriate) is a great way to build a network. Increasing the number of backlinks to your site will improve your page rank - a topic we will discuss later in this series.
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is a trainer and tech writer in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking. Her weakness is the mocha frappuccino.