FAQ: the index

All About the Tots100 Index

The Tots100 index was a monthly ranking of the UK’s top 100 parent blogs. It’s designed to help readers find great blogs to read, and to highlight the most popular, and influential bloggers writing in the UK today. The index is fully updated every month.

On a personal note, there are many, many great blogs that are not listed in the index. We urge you to use this index as a jumping off point. Explore the blogrolls and links in the blogs you find, and you will find hundreds of amazing blogs on every aspect of parenting you could possibly imagine.

If you blog and would like to be considered for the index, please leave a comment on this page, or on the most recent index and you’ll be added to the mix next month. To be eligible, you must be British or based in the UK, your blog must have been updated in the last month, and should be at least three months old (we recommend 6), so we can score it effectively. We do not include blogs that are password protected or which require readers to pay to read. We do not include blogs published by companies where the blog is written by a third party (such as blogs on newspaper or commercial websites). Inclusion is strictly at the discretion of the Tots100 team and we reserve the right to remove blogs from our lists that we do not consider meet these criteria.

We also know that not everyone is familiar with nerdy statistics websites and tools, so we’ve created a user-friendly example of how the index is put together, which you can read here.

Q: What is the Tots100 index based on?

To create the index, we score every blog submitted using seven different metrics, or measurements.These are Google Blogsearch results, Recent Google Blogsearch results, Yahoo Inlinks, Postrank, Google Reader, Klout and Technorati Authority. Each of these metrics is equally weighted – so the score in each category is equally important. We chose these metrics because we feel they’re the best available to show a blog’s popularity and authority. We also chose them because they are all publicly available – anyone can view this information, it can’t be faked, and that means bloggers can easily check their stats for themselves.

Q: How does Google Blogsearch work?

The first metric we use each month is Google Blogsearch hits. We put your blog address into Google Blogsearch and see how many hits there are – this shows how many other blogs have linked to your blog.  This gives us an idea of how many bloggers found your blog interesting enough to link to. Of course, some blogs are many years old and have thousands of links while others are very new and may only have a few. So we then look at how many of these links have been generated in the past month – this gives us an idea of not just how interesting you are generally, but how interesting you’ve been lately. So your blog gets TWO scores from Google Blogsearch each month.

Q: How does Yahoo Inlinks work?

Google is great, but it doesn’t necessarily register every single link to your site. So we also use Yahoo Site Explorer to look at links pointing to your site. Yahoo Inlinks looks at all links – from websites as well as blogs, although we exclude links to your content that originate from your own blog (these are known as self-referring links).

Q: How does Postrank work? 

Postrank is a service that measures how people interact with your blog content, and gives us an easy way to count how many comments your blog receives each month, as well as how many links to your content are posted on services like Twitter, Facebook, Digg and Del.ici.ous. We count up all the comments and links for a month and divide that by the number of posts to give you an average score per post.

You don’t need to sign up to Postrank, or submit your blog, or do anything – in the rare event a blog isn’t listed, we will contact Postrank to ensure it’s added to the index as soon as possible (usually this can be done within just a few minutes so won’t affect your score).

Q: How does Google Reader work?

The fifth metric we use for the Tots100 index is Google Reader. The index only uses publicly available data, so we can’t use traffic stats to measure blogs (those are usually kept private by bloggers). What we do instead is look at how many subscribers a blogger has on Google Reader.

This gives us a good way to compare the relative popularity of different blogs. Google Reader accounts for around 60% of all RSS subscriptions, so although it’s only looking at a small portion of your audience, it is a fairly reliable indicator of popularity. If you have more than one feed, we will count both.

Again, you don’t need to do anything to be listed in Google Reader. Providing your site publishes an RSS feed you’ll automatically be visible there (and if you’re using a blogging platform to blog, you will automatically be publishing a feed).

Q: How does Klout work?

Klout is a website that scores a Twitter account on a scale of 1 to 100, depending on things like how likely the user’s Tweets are to be reposted by other Twitter users, or how often people interact with the user on Twitter.

It’s important to note that Klout isn’t just about having LOADS of followers on Twitter – it’s more interested in how influential you are. This means if you follow 50 people but have 100 followers who regularly chat to you and repost your content, you’ll likely score more highly than someone who follows 5,000 people and has 5,000 followers who rarely interact with them.

Again, you don’t need to sign up to Klout for us to score you on this metric, although if you do, then you can ‘ping’ the site to ask it to update your score at any given point.

Q: How does Technorati work?

Technorati is a blog directory service that lists blogs in various categories, and which people use to find new blogs on particular topics. To help people find the best blogs in any given sector, Technorati gives each site that it lists a score of 1-1,000 based on its ‘authority’. This really means how many different blogs link to a blog over a 30 day period.

The reason we use Technorati is that the score reflects the number of different blogs linking to you, and not just the total number of links – so someone getting 10 links from 10 different blogs will score more than someone getting 20 links from just 2 different blogs. Authority also takes into account the authority of the blog linking to you – so you get more points for a link from a really big, popular blog than you would get for a link from a smaller, less popular blog.

Q: How do I get an Authority score? 

Unlike all our other metrics, you MAY need to do something to get an authority score from Technorati. Until recently, this was relatively simple – you could ‘ping’ Technorati and a blog would be listed within 6 days. However, given the huge number of spam blogs popping up, Technorati has stopped offering this option and bloggers may now need to manually ‘claim’ their blog.

To see whether this applies to you, open your web browser and go to www.technorati.com/blogs/yourblogaddress (change yourblogaddress to your blog URL without a www or http – as in www.technorati.com/blogs/whosthemummy.co.uk, for example).

If you can’t find your blog, then you will have to submit it to Technorati f you want to get an authority score. To do this, sign up for an account and follow the instructions to claim a blog – basically this involves Technorati giving you a unique piece of text that you need to put into a post on your blog to prove you own it.

The claim process can be rather slow and if you’re unlucky, it may not work first time. Use the FAQ on the site if your claim isn’t successful and our tip (based on experience) is that if a claim doesn’t work, it’s better to delete it and do it again rather than trying to fix it.

Once your blog is listed, you may well find that your Authority score is 1, and the site doesn’t seem to be listing your posts. This is because Technorati has decided to manually check each blog added to its directory and will only start indexing posts once it is convinced your blog is genuine. Again, this process can take a little time, particularly if your blog is relatively new.

These are very recent changes, and we’re keeping a close eye on how well the new Technorati process does or doesn’t work, so do keep us posted with your experiences, and we’ll help where we can. If, in three months time, it appears that a significant number of blogs are unable to be successfully indexed by Technorati, we will remove this metric from the rankings entirely at that point.

How is the final score calculated?

We use a simple multimetric algorithm to calculate the Tots100 rankings. Once all the data has been collected we remove blogs that obviously will not make the top 100 (for example because they score zero in most categories). We then rank the remaining blogs from high to low according to each metric. The blog scoring lowest for a single metric will score 1 point while the blog scoring highest will score 150 points (presuming we’re ranking 150 blogs). Once we’ve done this for all metrics, we add up the seven scores to create a total score for each blog. This is then ranked to reveal the overall top 100.

The algorithm isn’t entirely mine – I took a lot of inspiration from Todd Andrlik of the AdAge Power 150 and Brendan Cooper of the PR Friendly index, who provided me with lots of help in creating the index and the methodology.

How often is the Tots100 index updated?

Roughly every month, depending on if I’ve found the time! To make the index fair, I  update all the stats at the same time – so all rankings are collected on the same date.

Why isn’t my blog listed?

Have you asked us to include your blog? If not, drop me an email or post a comment. If you’ve asked me to consider your blog it’s possible that your score wasn’t high enough to make the top 100. If you believe you should be in the top 100, do let me know and I’ll check the figures – it may be that there was an error during the scoring process, or some figures were misused.

My scores are wrong – what can I do?

Because the index relies on other people’s software and websites, mistakes can happen. Let me know and if there’s a problem, I’ll do my best to fix it as soon as possible. If a blog rises or falls dramatically in the rankings, I will usually check for mistakes, but I’m always happy to check things and to let you know what figures I use for your blog. Please leave a comment on the index, or drop me an email with details of your question.

Why don’t you use traffic stats?  

We’d love to, but unfortunately there’s no reliable way to know how many people visit a blog unless you’re the site owner. We’ve decided to only use data that can be independently verified, which is why we look at RSS subscribers, not total readers.

Why don’t you use Digg/PageRank/Bloglines/FriendFeed for Tots100?

If there’s a data source you think we should include in our Tots100 rankings, we’d love to hear about it. Just drop me a line and let us know why you think I should use it. There may be a good reason why I don’t, we may already use it in another form (for example, Postrank reflects things like Digg and Del.ici.ous) or it might just be worth adding to the mix!

Why isn’t my favourite blog listed?

Probably because I don’t read it, and nobody has suggested it. We do add new blogs as we find them but with thousands of new blogs launching every month, Tots100 can’t know about every blog – so we rely on people like you to point out glaring omissions – just drop me a line or post a comment!

How do I improve my blog’s score?

The single best way to score highly in the Tots100 index is to write great content that people want to read, comment on, and share – luckily, this is also the best way to have lots of fun blogging and doesn’t require any extra work on your part.

If you want to increase the number of comments or links your blog gets, the best way is to throw yourself into the blogosphere – read and comment on other blogs, link to your favourite posts, and people will soon start linking back to you.

On a more scientific basis, listing your blog with Technorati can boost your score a little, and signing up to Twitter is also a good way to increase your visibility and readership.

Can you remove my blog?

Absolutely. If you’re the site owner and you would prefer we don’t list your blog in Tots100, we’re happy to remove you, no questions asked.

Any other questions?

If you have a question about Tots100, please get in touch by leaving a comment or dropping us an email.