diamond geezer

 Monday, July 06, 2020

Hello from the 39th best blog in London. I might have hoped for better, but in a city of 9 million people 39 is actually damned good.

This is an independent ranking from Feedspot, a site that exists to aggregate other people's content and make a little money on the side. They've been around for several years, since the era when RSS readers looked like they might democratise the web, and are based in California. I don't recommend you sign up for Feedspot because nobody needs to view the blogosphere through a commercial filter, but their London rankings are interesting and might just have a dash of objectivity. Let's see.

Feedspot's list of Top 100 London Blogs & Websites by London Bloggers is regularly updated, maybe every couple of weeks. I was number 27 earlier in the year, have since slipped as low as 43 and last Wednesday scraped back to 39. Various criteria are used to shuffle the order, including relevance, frequency of posting, social media engagement, domain authority and Alexa Web Traffic Rank. Essentially it's a magic box which generates a list, nothing more, nothing less. But perhaps that list will contain some other blogs you'd be interested in reading in addition to reading this one.

Here's the current top 3.
1) Londonist
2) London On The Inside
3) Secret London
If Londonist weren't top of the list you'd assume something was wrong. Feedspot tells us they have 1.4m Twitter followers, 900K Facebook fans and 271K Instagram followers, a combined total no other London blog comes near. Feedspot also notes that Londonist are currently averaging "one post a day", rather than the usual eight, because it's hard to maintain a commercial focus during a pandemic. London On The Inside (2) and Secret London (3) are more unashamedly experience-related, focusing on events, venues and (especially) refreshment opportunities the capital's younger residents might enjoy. If A Huge Beer Garden Is Coming To Walthamstow, then you'll read the reworked press release here.

Secret London writes with more hyperbole, LOTI feels more promotional and Londonist is more likely to slip a report on heritage bollards inbetween. But it's an inescapable fact that London's three big-hitters each exist primarily to suggest where you might go to spend some money.

The rest of the top 10 is a little more eclectic.
4) Absolutely London
5) London Remembers
6) The Londoner
7) London Historians' Blog
8) London Eater
9) Mapping London
10) London Cycling Campaign
London Remembers (5) is a remarkable catalogue of the capital's plaques and memorials, though hardly designed to be enjoyed sequentially, blog-style. The London Historians' Blog (7), Mapping London (9) and London Cycling Campaign's news page (10) are blogs even you might be interested in reading, and also proof you don't need to be commercial (or abundant on social media) to be in this Top Ten. Meanwhile London Eater (8) specialises in restaurant reviews, but has only posted twice this year so I'm not entirely sure how it merits eighth place. It is however by far the highest placed foodie blog - surprisingly there are only two others in the Top 50.

What there are a heck of a lot of in the Top 50 are luxury lifestyle blogs. Absolutely London (4) is one such, officially "for the benefit of the city’s stylish cosmopolitan residents", i.e. much like an upmarket online version of Time Out. It's run by a sizeable team who specialise in fashion, beauty, food, travel and interiors, whereas The Londoner (6) is the domain of a single Instagram influencer living her very best life in front of the camera. Tens of thousands lap up this stuff because it's perfectly pitched. If you're a 67 year-old man who likes recounting vintage bus anecdotes, however, I doubt you'll find anything of interest here.

By my reckoning almost half of Feedspot's list is focused on appealing to a moneyed, mostly-female audience. Why target Walthamstow's skint millennials when you could earn more by showcasing super little bakeries, branded facecream and holidays in the Algarve? The roll call includes My Timeless Footsteps (11), A Lady in London (15), Hannah Gale (21), Scarlett London (22), Poppy Loves (25), The LDN Diaries (26), SilverSpoon London (31), Love and London (32), Liberty London Girl (35), Diary of a Londoness (37), London New Girl (42), The Stylist And The Wardrobe (43), Mummy in the City (47)... and we're not even halfway down the Top 100. As for Inthefrow (14) and Lily Pebbles (24), two classics of the glamorous lifestyle genre, both have Instagram followings that put Londonist totally in the shade.

Scattered throughout the Top 100 are some really weird entries. At 12 is Ably Realtime, the blog of a digital API platform service with no London relevance whatsoever. At 13 is City Falcon, the blog of a fintech dashboard based at Canary Wharf. At 20 is London Beep, which isn't a blog of any kind, more a succession of crass gift ideas. As for Crises Control at 33, this one's for you should you want to "keep up-to-date with the latest news updates and tips on incident management, mass notifications and business continuity plans". I know my blog is somewhat niche, but what it's doing below all of that lot I do not know.

You may by now be wondering where the good stuff is, by which you mean the blogs most likely to pander to your own personal interests. Well, Ian Visits is at 16, Spitalfields Life at 29, A London Inheritance at 44 and London Reconnections at 48, and I'm guessing they'll be more up your street. See also Brixton Blog at 40 and Kentishtowner at 54, although other local news blogs appear to have been overlooked in favour of cosy chats about cabaret and cupcakes. Cabbie Blog (65) and Deserter (71) provide useful correctives further down the list, but promotion-free blogs are very much in the minority.

And there I am at number 39, this week at least. "An east-end based London blogger who covers everything from new and quirky places to explore in London to city travel updates, in a distinctive and addictive style!" That's very kind of them. I'm a Feedspot rarity in having no Facebook presence whatsoever, which won't have helped my ranking, although I do apparently have a perfectly-middling Domain Authority of 50 out of 100. I rest one place below Mini Adventures, A Travel, Food and London Lifestyle Blog (38), but two places above FortySeven, "helping our clients to scale up their business by using .Net, Java, PHP and C++ technologies" (41).

So yes, I know all of this ranking business is meaningless marketing bluster, but if nothing else it demonstrates quite how much blogging has changed. Ten or fifteen years ago a similar list would have brimmed with personal musings, local newsfeeds and semi-professional collectives. Today the most highly-rated blogs exist to showcase personal brands and flog refreshment experiences. Times change. But dig down and the blogs you'll want to read are still there.

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