The Z-list meme started by Mack Collier has picked up incredible momentum. While it's been fun to see my blog's Technorati rank skyrocket, it's more interesting to step back and analyze the big picture (it's what I do for a living). Compare authority and influence; the presence of one does not necessarily mean the other exists. (see David Armano's image at right illustrating potential presence of authority, probable lack of influence). So how can you think about blog measurement with these concepts in mind?
Like many other bloggers, I've redirected my feed through Feedburner. Your subscription stats give a great idea of how many people [and bots] you may be reaching on a daily basis – a better indicator of ongoing influence rather than point-in-time authority.
I tested out a lot of different analytics packages as I started blogging: SiteMeter, Performancing, Fireclick, Google Analytics, and Blogbeat. I've heard good things about Mint and MeasureMap, but I don't run my own server and have been on the waiting list of the other for about a year. Google Analytics and Fireclick are robust – a bit much for a personal blog. So I coughed up the $24 for Blogbeat (which was refunded around the Feedburner acquisition) and have been loving the service. Now that Blogbeat stats have been merged with Feedburner, there's no need to go anywhere else – and their customer service is FANTASTIC. Again, thinking about influence: these stats give you a sense of (1) new vs. returning visitors, (2) volume of traffic from inbound links, and (3) popularity of outbound links, i.e. what you are influencing.
In the land of the non-quantitative, there are comments that form conversations – any blog that doesn't allow them is all about authority. Press outreach indicates a combination of authority and influence; when you receive concept pitches and get on BR (blog relations) lists, or when journalists call/write to follow up on posts.
Bottom line on determining the balance of authority vs. influence depends on why you blog (a subject for another post). Whatever your reason(s), putting the right tools in place will help you keep tabs on how quickly you're getting to the goal. (BTW you do have goals…right?)
Your help is absolutely welcome here – are you using any tools that I haven't mentioned here (e.g. Alexa)? Do you see the authority vs. influence issue differently?