If you’re a UK Parent Blogger you’ll probably have heard of the Tots100 Index. It’s a ranking system for UK parent blogs which can tell you how you compare to others in that genre by analyzing your blog and social media accounts. The scores are refreshed every month, and there’s always a small amount of “buzz” in the community when the new scores are released, with bloggers wondering why they have moved down (or up) in the charts.
As an analytical sort, as soon as I joined the Tots100 index I made efforts to understand exactly how it works. I was pleased to discover that the Tots100 team are completely open about what metrics they measure and how the ranking works over on their How It Works page, which I recommend is the first thing that you read if you want to understand more about their ranking system. The next most important thing to understand is that the scores are generated based on your performance against each metric relative to all the other blogs. So you shouldn’t look at your individual results on each metric in isolation – you might have had a really good improvement in your Klout score one month for example, but if Klout has changed their algorithm and all bloggers have seen a similar improvement you may stay in the same position for that metric. That’s the most important thing to get your head around.
One of the things I like about the Tots100 Index is that almost all of the metrics they use are public data. That means if you want to analyze things in great detail you can look up how some of the top-ranked blogs are performing in a given metric and compare that to how your blog performs. At the time of writing I understand there are 8 different metrics that go into your Tots100 score, and 4 of those are public. The public metrics are: your MozRank and Total Links from Open Site Explorer, your Klout score and your total Instagram followers. In addition the Tots100 Index includes the number of links to your site found in Google for both all time and just the last month, and if you display the Tots100 badge on your blog the team will include your monthly page impressions and unique visits in your score.
Once you’ve read up on how the ranking system works, for me the next step is to check your actual scores against the public metrics. So here are the instructions on how to check your actual result against the 4 public metrics (and of course you can use the same methods to check how other bloggers perform against those metrics as well, should you so wish):
MozRank and Total Links from Open Site Explorer
To check these two metrics from Open Site Explorer, you need to go to the Moz Research Tool. Enter your blog URL as shown in your Tots100 profile in the search box and press the “search” button:
On the results screen you need to select “Compare Link Metrics” in the left-hand side bar menu, and on the resulting screen you will see both your Page MozRank and your Total Links:
Your MozRank is a number between 0 and 10 which reflects not only the total number of links to your blog, but also the quality of those links. So if you can get inbound links from sites with a very high authority (like the BBC for example) that will improve your MozRank score.
To see your Klout score, go to https://klout.com/<INSERT YOUR TWITTER HANDLE HERE>. Your Klout score will be visible sitting over your avatar picture:
To see your Instagram followers, go to https://www.instagram.com/<INSERT YOUR INSTAGRAM USERNAME HERE>. Your total number of followers is visible under your bio:
Google Links (all time and past month)
You used to be able to see your results for these metrics via a public Google search, but that doesn’t seem to be working for me any more, so I think some things have changed at Google to prevent this. However if you want an idea of how many websites are linking to your blog you can find this information in Google Webmaster Tools (It’s in the Search Traffic menu as “Links to Your Site”. There is more information about this on the Google Webmaster help page.
Monthly Page Impressions and Unique Visits
As I’ve said before, this data is collected by the Tots100 team via their badge on your site. So you can’t see your own results, or anyone elses. But you should have some kind of stats available to your blog – this could be Google Analytics if you’ve installed that, or any other stat counter. I understand that in general the blogs in the top 100 of the Tots100 index are experiencing in excess of 10,000 page impressions per month, so that is a good benchmark to compare yourself to.
Tips for Maximizing Your Blog’s Tots100 Score
So now I’ve told you how to check your blog’s performance against the various Tots100 metrics, here are some tips to make sure you are maximising your blog’s Tots100 score:
Use the correct blog address in your Tots100 profile.
It may sound basic, but make sure the blog URL you enter in your Tots100 profile is the main URL for your blog. The address you enter in the URL field in your Tots100 profile is the address they use to check your MozRank and total links. So if your blog address is http://www.blogname.com make sure that is what you enter, and don’t put in http://blogname.com, as that will give very different results. My blog URL is http://www.geekmummy.com, and as you can see in the picture below, I get very different results from Open Site Explorer if I enter the URL as http://geekmummy.com instead.
If you’re unsure of your best URL you can always try entering different variants in to Open Site Explorer to see how they compare.
Don’t put the “@” in your Twitter username field in your Tots100 profile
The Tots100 Index uses your Twitter username field to find your Klout score. If you include the “@” at the front, they won’t be able to get your Klout score, and you’ll miss out on that metric completely. Ensure your Twitter username is entered correctly:
Experiment adding different social networks to Klout
By default, if you do nothing at all with Klout, the only social network taken into account for your Tots100 score is your Twitter account. If you’ve got really engaged followers on other social platforms you may be able to improve your Klout by adding them. But be warned, don’t simply connect all your social networks willy nilly, because if you don’t have a strong following on any network it can decrease your Klout score. I recommend connecting one network at a time – it takes Klout a few days to take the new network into account. So connect one network, wait a few days and look for a change in your score. If it goes up, great, try connecting another network. If it goes down, disconnect that network, wait a few days for your score to change back and then try connecting another network. Try to avoid doing this at the start of the month when the Tots100 index is calculating if you don’t want it to affect your Tots100 score.
Ensure your Tots100 badge appears on every page of your blog
You’ll only get credit for pageviews and visits to pages where the Tots100 badge appears on your blog. So make sure you put it in a sidebar or in your footer, somewhere where it will load on every page.
Focus on creating great content that others will want to share and link to
Because of the variety of metrics involved, and the way they work, it is very difficult to “manufacture” a good Tots100 score. Those blogs that do well in the Tots100 Index are those who are producing great quality, useful content, which others are sharing and talking about.
Remember your Tots100 score is not a measure of how “good” your blog is
Your Tots100 score is made up of a series of numbers. It’s calculated in a very mathematical way, and because of that it doesn’t capture the essence of what makes your blog unique. You are so much more than your Tots100 score, and whilst it can feel competitive at times, most people blog the best when they forget about the scores and the metrics, and just write about what they love.
So that’s a bit of a brain dump of everything I know about the way the Tots100 score is calculated, and how you can investigate your own performance should you so wish. If you want to find out more about the Tots100 score you should also read 7 myths (and a few truths) about the Tots100 rankings, which is an excellent blog post by my friend Tim. And if you have any queries about your Tots100 score you should definitely reach out to the Tots100 team via their contact form, as they’re a very friendly and helpful bunch of people.
Disclosure: I am not involved in any professional capacity with the Tots100 team or the production of the Tots100 Index. This blog post is a summary of what I’ve learned about the Index over the past 4 years from reading articles by the Tots100 team, and from listening to Sally’s explanations of how it all works at various BlogCamp conferences.
Graph image courtesy of jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net