A Guide to Finding Top Blogs in Your Niche
Technorati is no longer with us.
Actually, scratch that. Technorati is still with us as a company, but their famous blog directory is gone.
Whether it's gone for good, we don't know, but right now, the company has transformed into a fully fledged advertising network.
So … now what?
Where to find quality blogs if not via Technorati?
I mean, this sort of research was so easy back when the directory was online. All you needed to do is browse through its many categories. You could find hundreds of blogs there, all ranked according to their authority score. It was perfect.
Well, okay, I may be exaggerating a bit. To be completely honest, Technorati was the lazy man's approach at research, and even though the directory was a great insight, it wasn't a be all end all kind of resource.
The basic rules of finding top blogs in our niches haven't changed, we only need to shift towards different tools.
Before actually figuring out the top blogs in your niche, there’s another important thing you need to do, particularly if you’re looking to outreach to influencers for some link building.
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How to find top blogs quickly
Let's divide the process into two parts:
- Getting a list of all / most / a number of blogs in your niche and create a general spreadsheet – the bird's-eye-view step.
- Picking the top ones – the laser-focus step.
The first step is where you'd have traditionally used Technorati. So now, we have to cope by focusing on other things:
Method 1: Google
There are two ways you can use Google: (1) looking for blogs one by one, or (2) searching for list posts compiled by other people that already showcase the top blogs in a given niche. The latter is a much more effective approach.
For example, when I search for the following keywords, and use the Search tools to select only the results from the past year:
"top web design blogs"
(Please notice the quotation marks. This tell Google to find exact matches.)
I get these results:
The same idea can be used for any other niche. Just use the keywords that sum up the essence of your topic.
What you do next is put all the blogs you find into a spreadsheet. You will use this spreadsheet as your main resource later on.
Method 2: Alltop
[Alltop] is kind of similar to the old Technorati directory. It has a number of categories, and there are tens of blogs in each of them.
In the end, going through Alltop's many categories is a great way to find some established sites that have already been around for a while.
Method 3: Social news sites
Also known as Reddit-style sites. In short, it's where people can have their links or news published, and other people vote them up or down.
There are two things you can do with those sites when searching for top blogs:
- Use Reddit itself. There are tens of sub-Reddits on even the strangest topics, so you are very likely to find something related to your niche. Once you've found a category, browse through the submissions and pick some interesting blogs and put them in the spreadsheet.
- Find other sites just like Reddit, only focusing on one specific topic. The only downside is that not every niche has a popular social news site. Examples: for design there's DZone, for small business there's BizSugar, for SEO there's growth.org, but for fly-fishing there's nothing.
Using just those three methods, you should end up with more blogs than you can shake a stick at!
Now, let's get to the important part – going through your spreadsheet and picking the actual top blogs.
How to pick top blogs using popularity metrics
Unfortunately for us, the metric that tends to be the most accurate is not publicly available. Of course, I'm talking about traffic. Top blogs have traffic.
So since very few people share their traffic numbers openly, we have to look at other indicators.
Factor 1: Raw numbers – Alexa rank and SEO indications.
Alexa provides some data that can help you to gauge a site's success, with the Alexa rank and Traffic Rank. However, websites that don't get a decent amount of traffic are unlikely to show much data.
A good starting point is to check these values for the blogs on your list. However, don't erase any sites based on these metrics. Treat them only as additional insight, not as the thing you're using to make the decision.
Factor 2: Average number of comments
Comments can be tricky. Although a blog that has a lot of comments under every post is surely popular, if a blog has zero comments, this doesn't necessarily mean it's unpopular.
It's just that some audiences are naturally preconditioned to comment while others are not. So don't make any rash decisions, but simply put the average number of comments in your spreadsheet.
Factor 3: Average number of social media shares
Social share numbers are quite similar to comments when it comes to assessing a blog's popularity.
Some audiences, like the online marketing audience (for example), are very likely to share content with their followers, while people looking for advice on how to cure acne won't be as eager to share.
In the end, same thing goes – get the average numbers and put them into your spreadsheet.
(By the way, you can use this tool to get individual social media metrics for any page on the web.)
Factor 4: Google rankings
You will never get a complete insight into how well a given site ranks, but you can get a general idea by doing a search with your niche's main keywords.
For instance, if you're in dog training, the main keyword is probably "dog training". Check who's ranking on places 1-20, and then mark those sites in your spreadsheet.
Factor 5: Content quality
This is something that you can only assess according to your own judgment.
Browse through the last 3-5 posts on the blog you're researching and answer the following questions: Are they high quality? Would you want to read more stuff like this? Does it seem on topic and relevant to your niche?
Go back to your spreadsheet and mark the blogs that publish quality content.
Put it all together
Once you have all this info at your disposal, you can probably remove some of the blogs just by glancing at their overall numbers.
For instance, if a given blog has high Alexa (above 1.5 million), no comments, very few social media shares, and low quality content, you can safely assume that it's not the top one.
On the other hand, you can probably also pick the absolute top 5 pretty easily. Look for sites that have the lowest Alexa (and good SEO stats), many comments and social media shares, and exceptional content.
Evaluate each blog one by one until you have the top 10 or the top _whatever number you're looking for_.
Do you have your own spreadsheet containing the top blogs in your niche? No? It's surely about time to start creating one