As we discussed earlier this week, backlinks, Alexa ratings, and page rank, along with along with traffic and feed subscriptions, are some industry standards for evaluating blogs. Today, let's talk about traffic.
This may seem obvious, but one way to evaluate the success of a blog is to see how many readers the blog has on a daily basis - this is "traffic." As with all things "obvious," however, the truth is not quite as simple as just the number of visits.
Your own statistics software (that you, or your webmaster have installed on your site), should give you a lot of information that you can use - how many "unique visits," you received in a day (a "unique visit" represents an I.P. address, presumably one reader - most stats counters will not count an I.P address more than once within a designated time frame, usually 30-120 minutes), how many "hits" or "page views" you received (this does count repeat visits from URL's, and counts how many posts were actually clicked open), where the traffic was coming from, and what readers were reading. It should also show how long visitors stayed on the site, and how many pages they viewed while there.
If you want to compare your site with another, services like Compete.com's "Site Profile" can be used, as well as ranking sites like Alexa.com (see Rankings).
Remember that traffic is one area where "quality" may be as valuable as "quantity." Sites that exist purely for profit from advertising click-through's will usually focus more on quantity of hits. However, blogs that exist primarily for communication and networking purposes are more interested in "quality," of traffic, and whether or not they are attracting their target audience. If a blog receives 10,000 posts per day, but 99% of those hits "bounce" (quickly view only one post then leave) are from viewers who viewed only one off-topic post, that blog has not really profited from those hits. It would be better to get 300 hits per day from readers who stick around and read a few posts while they are there.
Also see: What You can Learn from your Stats
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.