No ranking system is perfect. One of the most popular ones in the world, the BCS designed for college football, is criticized constantly with people calling for a playoff system instead (which I completely agree with) of the current combination of human polls and computer rankings.
Within the personal finance world, there are several ranking systems. Each has it’s own merits and each has it’s downsides, but there seems to be one metric that outweighs the others.
One of the most popular rankings, the godfather of personal finance rankings, is the Wisebread rankings. It lists hundreds of personal finance blogs, and recently changed from ranking blogs based on Alexa ranking, to be a more comprehensive ranking system including many other factors, including Klout, a metric of social engagement.
However, at the same time, it uses some questionable metrics. Most noticeably, it uses PageRank (PR), Google’s ranking system. When updated, it is the premier ranking that advertisers care about. Search engine traffic comes almost entirely from Google, so metrics can judge, but what Google thinks is what makes the biggest difference.
The problem with PageRank that it hasn’t been updated since March. Those of us that sell advertising based on PageRank and have good PRs are happy (no move is better than risking a move down), but newer blogs have no PR when they should be highly ranked. What good is a metric if it never updates (and we don’t know when the next update will occur, if ever)? Still, it should be included because advertisers are interested in this and if nothing else, it shows which sites have been doing well for an extended period of time. While it’s not ideal, PageRank should be included in any ranking solely because advertisers care.
Another questionable metric is produced by Compete.com, which offers a metric of traffic, but it’s calculations are severely flawed. Even though my traffic has increased dramatically over the past 6 months, Compete shows that until this month, my traffic actually dropped fairly consistently and that’s just not the case. In addition, it significantly misjudges my actual traffic. So it’s both inaccurate and hasn’t even tracked the direction of my traffic.
Finally, the Wisebread rankings don’t update regularly. I’ve been tracking it a lot lately and while some of the metrics have changed recently, the number of subscribers along with Klout score (both metrics change daily) have not been updated in some time. While knowing how many twitter followers someone has, it doesn’t give a good indication of where someone is at this point in time. What’s a ranking system if it isn’t constantly evolving? Almost all of my numbers are wrong, so it does not reflect what’s actually happening.
Another ranking system is the Money Crashers rankings. They came out with their rankings a few months ago, and while they don’t update regularly, they recently updated, so at least it’s moving more than the Wisebread rankings and they’re clearly working on improving it. Their inclusion of mozRank, which we’ll get to below, is a great step in the right direction. However, this ranking too has it’s issues.
Once again, they use Compete statistics. I have yet to find someone who says Compete accurately portray traffic stats. And another awful metric is the SEM Rush score, which calculates the estimated worth of a blog. Sounds cool, right? Except that I would never sell my site for the $2,500 it claims I’m worth. I was offered double that and turned it down several months ago. And while I believe that Bargaineering is one of the best sites out there, I hardly think it’s worth over $1 million as they say it is. (If it is, please sell it now, don’t pull a Groupon!) Clearly that ranking needs some major fixing.
Next, we have the Technorati rankings for Finance, which measures a site’s standing and influence in the blogosphere. It measures linking behavior and other data over a short, finite period of time. Technorati updates every day and there are constant shifts in the rankings. While there is little transparency, having a secret system helps in that there is no easy way to move up because we don’t know exactly which factors are most important. There is no ‘gaming’ the system.
It’s hard to find out exactly what metrics are included, but there are significant flaws with this system. How do I know? Well, if we look at the top sites in the Finance category, look who currently sits at number 8? I do. And guess what? While I take pride in my blog, I am so far away from being in the top 10 of any finance related category. Even if there was a ‘blogs named Sweating The Big Stuff’ category, I’m not sure I’d make it. While I appreciate the honor, I am undeserving. We can’t trust something that puts me above some amazing bloggers who have been doing this for years.
Finally, we have the Yakezie rankings. My favorite thing about them is the amount of weight put on mozRank, a metric similar to PageRank, but one that updates much more regularly. It updates at least once a month. Most bloggers agree that this is an accurate reflection of a blog’s influence and popularity, and it will be interesting to track the metric over a long period of time to see if it sustains it’s popularity. I have yet to find any detractors as it seems like it fairly judges a blog’s popularity.
The problem with the Yakezie rankings is that while it includes all sites that are part of the group, not all bloggers are part of it (though everyone is welcome (and encouraged) to join), so it’s hard to say where they would fall in the rankings. If it were comprehensive, more people would flock to it.
Having activity on the site be worth 50% of the ranking is a lot, especially since the group is about promoting others and this may encourage some to spend more time on one site when it could be better spent elsewhere.
For those within the Yakezie group, it definitely gets the job done. By including PR, it appeals to advertisers and having mozRank beside it shows whether those PR rankings are relevant or if they’re very out of date. Plus, the weight of the interactivity on the Yakezie site shows which people have been giving it their all and deserve to be recognized. Finally, the Alexa rank is a nice inclusion because it’s how the Yakezie got started and while there are ways to manipulate it’s rankings, for the most part it shows accurate traffic patterns.
If I could create a perfect ranking system, I would do away with all metrics that don’t update at least once a month and those that less than 75% of bloggers agreed accurately portray what they’re supposed to. Based on that, mozRank and Klout would be two of the most important factors, with Alexa not too far behind. While there are a few flaws in the system, for most it’s fair.
Readers, which ranking do you think accurately portrays the best personal finance blogs? Which specific metric is your favorite?