How I Climbed the Tots100 Rankings
In the first Tots100 rankings of 2015, this blog was placed at number 226. I was pretty pleased with that, to be honest; despite having dropped 7 places since from the previous month, I felt like I was still doing okay – and when you consider just how many blogs are included in the Tots chart (around 8000 I think? It’s growing every day), then being number 226 was nothing to be sniffed at.
Fast forward a few months though, and when the May rankings were published I found myself at number 35. Assuming this month was not an anomaly and I’ll be back at 226 when the June rankings come out, I’ve climbed 191 places in four months.
This year, I decided to make a concerted effort with my blog; I have been taking it more seriously and working harder at it, and I’m so pleased that this extra work seems to have paid off. There’s no way to “hack” the Tots rankings (that I know of) – and quite honestly, I don’t know why anyone would want to any way – like in maths tests at school, “you’re only cheating yourself” by doing things like that. That said, a lot of people seem to think the Tots100 rankings are some sort of unintelligible witchcraft, so I thought it might be worth explaining how (I think) I’ve reached the heady heights of the top 100.
For the Tots100 rankings, blogs are scored using eight metrics. For each metric, bloggers are ranked from 1 to whatever position is the last (depending on how many blogs there are). Then those eight scores are put together to give you an overall score. They’re put in order and the one with the most points wins! In this way, someone with a low Klout score but high traffic can have a better ranking than someone with a high Klout score but lower traffic – and vice versa.
Here I will explain what the criteria are, and what I’ve done to improve each one:
1. Unique visitors per month
The number of unique visitors you have per month is something a PR will usually want to know before they work with you. Because it’s unique visitors, that means you can’t just sit there at your computer and keep refreshing your blog front page – it needs to be different people visiting your blog. The best way to do this is to broaden your horizons in terms of what you post, who you promote it to, and where.
For me, I think I’ve just upped my game over all in the last few months. In this post I explain how I maintain my momentum, usually publishing at least 15 posts per week. Whereas previously, I would sit there of an evening and think “hmm, what day is it tomorrow, do I normally join in with a linky on that day… oh shit what can I post…” I now have a very pretty diary, which I keep updated with which linkys I’m joining in, which posts I intend to write and any other topics I want to cover. Rather than rely on my (somewhat addled) brain to remember at 7pm that tomorrow is Wednesday and I usually post this on a Wednesday, I have it written down and am a big fan of scheduling.
What can you do to get more unique visitors? If you want to get more unique visitors per month, that means essentially that you want to get lots of different people coming to your blog rather than the same 100 people each day. To do that, I believe you need to broaden your horizons in terms of what you post, when you post, and where you share it. I also launched a podcast this year, and I’m sure the work I’ve been doing on the radio station Wave 105 has also brought in many more different viewers, as people who’ve listened to the show come to my blog to read more about the things we’ve discussed.Look at promoting your posts on different social media. If you’ve never used Pinterest before, give it a go. If you’ve written a post about something that’s gone on locally to you, tweet it to your local newspaper or radio station. Brainstorm ways you can get your blog out there, past the loyal readership you already have. If I were a walking cliche, I would tell you to think outside the box.
2. Page impressions per month
Your page impressions are the number of page views you’ve had over all through the month – so it includes returning visitors. My page impressions have grown over the last few months, and I believe this is down to a growth in both the number and variety of posts I’m publishing.
Say for example, you have 100 loyal readers who read your blog every day. If you publish one post per day, and they all read it, you’ll get 100 page impressions each day. If you publish two posts per day, and your readers are very loyal, you can potentially get 200 page impressions per day.
What can you do to get more page impressions? Post consistently, and often. You don’t have to post three or four times per day – but the more you post, the more reason there is for people to come to your site. If you publish a post at 8am about a book you’ve read, and some of your readers are not interested in that book, they might be interested in your post published at 9am about your recent trip to the zoo. This could also be referred to as the “throw enough shit at a wall; some of it will stick” approach. It only works if you are genuinely enthusiastic about your blog, and want to consistently up your game though – if you’re cynically posting clickbait just to get people to visit your blog, people can tell and they don’t much like it.
3. Links to your site from other blogs
How do you get a link to your site from another blog? You can ask them nicely, you can make a badge and hope they will put it on their page, you can write a guest post. Many blogs have an option to put a link to your blog beneath a comment you make – but some of these will be no-follow and therefore don’t count. Another way is to run a linky, and put a badge on there for people to add to their posts when they link up. That badge (if you get the code right, ha) will be another link to your site – and if they link up every week, and use the badge at the bottom of their post each week – that counts as a link every time.
I already co-hosted the Weekend Blog Hop with Laura from My Life As A Mummy (that’s a link to her site to be counted in next month’s Tots rankings!). I had also been running Wordless Wednesday, and I’ve recently started a goal-setting linky on a Monday. The latter two are not hugely popular, purely because I’ve not been too great at promoting them – but Laura and I have done a fair bit of tweaking to the Weekend Blog Hop this year, and it’s been very popular in recent months.
What can you do to get more links to your site? Joining in with linkys won’t mean more links to your blog, as linky/blog hop links are nofollow. Running a linky with a badge might result in more links, if everyone uses your badge and you get a lot of people joining in. Leaving comments is also a good idea – but I have a strong aversion to people obviously leaving comments just for the link – things like “nice post” or “aw hun” make my finger hover over the “delete” button, to be honest. If you’re going to comment, make it worth reading. Add something to the conversation!
I think the best way of getting more links to your site is to write some bloody cracking content, that other bloggers will want to share with their friends. They might write their own post responding or adding to your argument, and in doing so a polite blogger will reference your post with a link.
4. Total links to the site, as listed by Moz
This includes links to your site from other blogs, but also from other sites – so if you manage to get a link to your site on another website, it’ll be counted here.
What can you do to get more total links to your site? Get yourself out there! Comment on news websites, submit your work to other websites requesting a byline including a link to your blog. Basically, hustle. Don’t link drop – nobody likes that – but give people a reason to have a link to your blog on their website. Oh, and make it easy for people to share your blog posts, with social media buttons clearly visible on each page.
5. MozRank score
A MozRank is a score between 0 and 10; the average is generally agreed to be around 3. Like with Klout scores, it’s twice as hard to get from 3 to 4, as it is from 2 to 3. MozRank scores basically represent link popularity – so it’s to do with the quality of the links to your blog. For example, you could have 50 links to your blog from tiny sites nobody visits – or just one from a really popular site that has thousands of visitors each day, and that one link would be worth more than the 50 smaller ones.
What can you do to get a higher MozRank score? This is one of those things it’s best to just not think about, in my opinion. You can drive yourself to distraction by seeking out only “big” websites to target for links to your blog. Or you could just carry on as normal, and see it as a nice bonus if the Huffington Post adds a link to your blog.
6. Recent links to the site (last 30 days)
As with the previous few points, this measures how many links there are to your site. I think the idea of measuring how many are within the last 30 days is about measuring who has been active this month, who’s been the most sociable on the internet.
What can you do to get more recent links to the site? Stay active! Don’t leave 50 comments, get links to your blog on several sites, and then tick “get more links” off your to-do list and go on with your day! It’s an on-going thing, as is blogging. Which is why I think they include this.
7. Klout score
I wrote several posts about Klout scores a while ago. My Klout score at the time of writing is 71. In short, your Klout score is a measure of your “clout” on the internet – it measures how much influence you have on social media.
What can you do to improve your Klout score? In short, be more sociable on social media. There’s no way to “hack” this – you just need to be online and engaging with people more! I would suggest reading this post – and any others you can find on the topic.
8. Instagram followers
This is a relatively new addition to the Tots lineup, and I seem to recall at the time they weren’t able to take into account things like the number of likes or comments our posts got – so they just count how many followers. When it was announced, whole swathes of bloggers suddenly started Instagramming anything in sight in the hope of gaining more followers.
My Instagram following has grown a fair bit this year. I think I hit 1000 some time in January, having been on Instagram for at least a couple of years before that. A couple of days ago, I passed 2000 followers without even really noticing. What I’ve found with Instagram is that followers attract followers – the more you have, the more you get.
What can you do to improve your Instagram followers? That’s a topic for a post all of its own! In short, post more, comment more, like more – basically, be active on there. Some weekends, I can post 12 or even 15 photos. My account is clearly active when people come across it, so they will follow me.
A few take-away points
- Content is king. If you’re posting engaging, readable content on a regular basis, you’re on the right track.
- Promote your posts – the old “build it and they will come” really only happened in that one movie.
- Be sociable on social media – not just with links to your own blog, but to other blogs and articles you find interesting, comments and anecdotes.
- Don’t obsess over your stats. The time you spend watching your traffic – or that of your competitors – would be much better spent writing, preparing and researching your own blog posts.
- Don’t worry about your Tots ranking! I’ve yet to meet a parent blogger who started a blog just to get a chart position, or who reached the top 10 and suddenly their lives changed. It’s useful to know how you’re doing aginst these eight points, only, and only against other parent bloggers who have joined the chart. It’s not worth losing sleep over; even Sally Whittle will happily tell you that herself
Interesting post. I'm not one for joining in with linkys much or commenting on lots of blogs. I took this blog off tots100 last year as I didn't feel that as a small business blog it fitted. But I still have Charlie Moo's on there but I don't blog daily so I can see I unless the posts go viral I'm unlikely to reach the dizzy heights of 100. I'd be more interested to hear how reaching the top 100 your blog has changed? Are you offered more opportunities? Are they better quality? Are you making more money? Joanne Dewberry recently posted...Blogging for Business Tips for Bloggers
Perhaps I should follow this up with "how being in the top 100 changed my life" with a photo of me outside a mansion, holding one of those little yappy handbag dogs! I might make a few notes over the next couple of months (assuming I can stay inside the 100, ha) and write something later...
haha! That would be funny! Defo take some notes as you might not realise until you look back. Joanne Dewberry recently posted...5 takeaway tips from Mumsnet Workfest
Aw hun....JUST KIDDING!! Absolutely awesome tips thank you. I know tots isn't be all and end all but I'd love to be in that top 100 with you xx Amy recently posted...My Top 6 favourite perfumes
This is a really helpful post, thank you! I like that you acknowledge what's worth worrying about and what's not. I find that one of the hardest things to do when thinking about promoting my blog on social media.. it's hard to know where to focus the little bit of time and energy I have free! Erin @Yorkshiretots recently posted...Candlelighters Colour Me Crazy Colour Run – Family Fun for an Amazing Charity
Very interesting to read....I've been in the top 100 for the last 3 or 4 months and I can't believe it. I really don't get it because there are a lot of others who seem to do a lot more than I do. I'm not complaining though....hehehe Kim Carberry recently posted...Father's Day Gifts - All under £10!
haha I know what you mean Kim, I'm always surprised if I'm reading an amazing blog and then I see their Tots ranking is behind me. I think because the rankings take into account social media presence as well, and not just blog traffic etc, it's not a perfect measure of how "good" a blog is, so much as how "bloggy" a blogger is in terms of being active in the blogging community as a whole.
Classic Grl (Amanda Charles)
Hi Vicky, Thanks for sharing some great tips - I've recently joined Tots 100. My unique visitors and page impressions have been increasing quite a lot recently as I've been working harder on my blog. I'm not at a point where I'm consistently posting every day yet (mostly due to morning sickness and feeling exhausted all the time!). But it goes to show that you get out what you put in. Well done and keep up the great work! xx Classic Grl (Amanda Charles) recently posted...Beauty Wishlist – June 2015
This is really informative, I'm sure it will help loads who get so stressed out about not climbing the charts. I've been with Tots for 3 years and have never made the top 100. I know why, it's because I don't do most of these things! But that's ok, I do know how it works, I just decide what's more important to me. :) Anne recently posted...Decorating a Cork Board - A Crafting Challenge
Sara | mumturnedmom
Really interesting, and well explained, post. I made it into the Top100 sometime last year, somewhat unexpectedly, but I've managed to stay there, or just outside it, since. I completely agree that it's not the be all and end all, and that simply being consistent and sticking to writing about what you love, is the way to go. I think it can be a double edged sword too, as you put more pressure on yourself to stay there... well I do anyway ;) Great post Vicky x Sara | mumturnedmom recently posted...Rewind: upside down
A "linky" is where one person will set up a post and ask people to join in by adding their own posts on a certain topic; they add a bit of code that allows other bloggers to add their links and there are usually rules involved too. It's a great way to find other blogs to read and get new readers to your own blog!
Good tips, Vicky - and well done! I think you're right that it's helpful to be aware of what drives your ranking but not to get too tied up in playing the game. Generally I think it's helpful to remember that blogging is partly about producing great content, partly about sharing promoting it and partly about interacting with other people. What proportion you attribute to those three categories depends on what you want or are trying to achieve. I crept into the top 100 in May. I'm still not entirely sure how, if I'm being honest - it's certainly not on the basis of views and visitors! - but equally I'm delighted by that and realistic enough to know that I'm unlikely to rise higher unless I commit more time and effort that I don't have to spare. But that's fine by me - my ranking is a nice pat on the back (and who doesn't like that?) but it's not going to change the way I blog for now. Tim recently posted...The changing face of mornings
I think you're exactly right Tim - it's a nice pat on the back but it shouldn't be the reason any of us drastically changes what we're doing. It's useful to keep in the back of one's mind, like SEO and putting Alt tags on photos - but shouldn't be anywhere near the top of the list of priorities!
Lianne @ One of each kind
Wow such great tips!!! Massive congratulations on your tots100 score ranking 35 is an amazing achievement you should be very proud of yourself and your blog, the hard work and dedication pays off, well done you :) I'm defiantly going to put some of these excellent tips into practice Thank you for hosing #WeekendBlogHol Lianne @ One of each kind recently posted...Getting my rant on
Thank you for sharing this post, it's very helpful. I would love to get in to the top 500 just for month, that will make me happy! I just need to remember thats not why I started blogging. I didn't realise that it also took Instagram into account. Popping over from the #WeekendBlogHop Becky xx Littleoandme recently posted...Me and Mine: May 2015
In all honesty, when I started to think "bugger it, I didn't start blogging for a number and I don't care where I'm ranked" that's when I actually started to climb. I think it's definitely better to make creating fantastic content our priority and just bear these other things in mind in the background.
Clare's Little Tots
Thank you so much for taking the time to post this. It's encouraged me to finally reset my Totss100asswod and log on and I'm happy to say I've been (very slowly) moving up the charts so will be taking into account all of what you've said in the above now. Well done on getting to no. 35 that's amazing.
Adventures of a Novice Mum
Well done on your Tots100 climb; that must feel very nice. It's good to note that it didn't happen by chance though, you've worked very hard for it. 15 posts in a week ... good on you. I keep meaning to write one a day but I have a long way to go. Ranking is fab, isn't it; but even more important is focusing on what really matters - content. I suppose if we look after the pennies, the pound will take care of itself. Cheering you as you continue to climb. :-) #aNoviceMumTwitterFind Adventures of a Novice Mum recently posted...Breastfeeding and I Linky 1
Hats off to you, you're doing so well. wisj I could focus on my blog but life is going a little too fast and I rarely get the chance to write. Anything you can suggest to keeping your blog alive with a 37 hour a week job, a home and a baby (2 babies where one is also dad)?? Fola lewis recently posted...Sunday Picture