What is a “Popular” Post?

The other day, I posted a list of the Top Ten Posts on this blog. I used Google Analytics’ measure of “top content” to create that list.

Top Content according to Google Analytics is page views. But does that really equate to popularity?

Aside: Postrank tried to change our perceptions of “top” content, looking at visitor engagement rather than merely visits. I loved the concept, but unfortunately had trouble with hosting the widget on this blog and finally removed it after several months of no results.

So how do you want to define popularity, or top content? Really, it depends on what you’re hoping to achieve. If I want to know what posts are bringing people to my site, the list I posted is appropriate. If I want to know what posts elicited a response in people / caused them to forward, retweet or comment, that would likely be an entirely different list. Arguably, determining what it was about those posts that interested people would be a bit more challenging: and if I really wanted to geek out about it, I could figure out which posts elicited the most feedback per eyeball by cross-referencing the two lists.

There are plenty of tools out there to get data about your content or activities online. The tricky part is figuring out how to turn the data into meaningful information, and how to learn from it.

7 thoughts on “What is a “Popular” Post?

  • An easy way for self-hosted wordpress users to gauge the popularity of a post is through Alex King’s Popularity Contest plugin. That’s how I created my 2009 blog post recap, picking posts here and there based on different criteria the plugin tracks and displays.

    Google Analytics is great for interpreting basic data but it is not complete today; for instance, if I’m on twitter.com and click a link to your page, the referrer will be twitter. But if I’m on a mobile or desktop twitter application and click that same link, the referrer will be listed as generic, which could be from anywhere.
    .-= Ari Herzog´s last blog ..How Electromyography May Change Your Life =-.

    Follow me on twitter: ariherzog

  • Great post! As you’ve probably heard before, I think the correct answer is “It depends.” I think too many people are hung up on page views being the be-all end-all of success when in many cases it doesn’t really mean anything. You really need to determine your goals and dive deep into your analytics to really come up with relevant measures of success.

    Follow me on twitter: wfisher

  • Thanks, Will!

    Often I like to boast that online engagement gives us ways to track things we’ve never been able to before: yet sometimes I think we get caught up in the tracking and don’t think about whether or not we’re really achieving what we want.
    I was once chatting with a client about Google Analytics and tracking where their traffic was coming from. As far as I’m concerned, knowing what percentage of your traffic comes from search results vs inlinks isn’t near as important as knowing how appropriate the individual sources are.

    Follow me on twitter: afhill262

  • An example is this post, it’s thoughtful and that is what I felt and thought halfway through reading it. Knowing how to measure the numbers of people are important, how do we or can we ever measure emotional reaction by a readers actions. Using emotion may be a scary thought but I’d like to measure it as long as no one is measuring mine.. 🙂 thanks for the post Andrea.

    Follow me on twitter: organichat

  • Hi Craig,

    The idea of being able to measure intent or sentiment is really interesting. I actually chose the name of my blog (Digital Likeness) because I wanted to allude to the more human aspect of things.

    One company I’m aware of that tries to look at intent is MotiveQuest: I met the CMO Tom O’Brien at a conference a few years back. They do some interesting work beyond simply “social media monitoring” but actually looking at the sentiment around mentions. Again: it’s a step beyond the data and actually making it relevant.

    Thanks again for the stopping by and leaving a comment!

    Follow me on twitter: afhill262

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