Please pardon me while I toot my own horn for just a minute because I’m pretty excited about how quickly a few tweaks have improved the visibility of my blog.
Online blogging platforms, such as WordPress and Blogger, and social networking sites like facebook have made blogging quite the simple task for many people. Unless you are exceedingly lucky though, getting the attention you deserve may require some additional effort.
I’ve always had an interest in technology, particularly computers. About 1970 or so, I recruited two other conspirators as freshmen to convince our math teacher, Mr. Perkins, to sponsor Colby High School’s first computer programming class.
We’d write our Basic programs and then drive 100 miles to Fort Hays State University to have them converted to punch cards and run on the only mainframe in Western Kansas.
More recently I’ve been satisfying my geek by playing with blogging and content management platforms, like Joomla and WordPress, and learning how one gets attention in this increasingly crowded space call the Internet.
No one seems to even know how many blogs actually exist. The best I could find in Technorati’s “State of the Blogosphere” series were estimates ranging from 22.6 to 26.4 million blogs started in the U.S. and an astounding 184 million worldwide.
Like many other people who blog for personal satisfaction, I am interested in knowing as much as possible about my readers, where they come from, how much time they spend reading my blog posts and which posts get the most “hits”. Most blogging platforms offer some form of statistical reporting, but there are even more options are available for self-hosted blogs.
One service that just about anyone can use to find out how their blog or website ranks on the www is called Alexa, which is owned by Amazon.com. Just type in your blog or website’s URL (address) and Alexa will tell you how they think you rank. Alexa is not perfect in the way it ranks websites, but it is more accessible and easier to use than some of the other ranking services, which are also imperfect. Besides, while I am curious about comparative rankings with other sites, I’m most interested in how my site compares to its previous history, or trending, which Alexa is pretty good at.
Note: due to the way they are constructed, some blogging platforms, including OpenSalon, only return Alexa results for the entire platform (Alexa rank: 1,897), rather than the ranking for individual blogs.
When my blog was on wordpress.com last year, Alexa ranked it at 8 million plus. In the Alexa ranking system, the lower the number, the more traffic a site gets. The busiest site on the web, for example, is google.com, so it gets the number 1, followed by facebook (I know, I can’t believe it either) at #2, and so on. In December there were some 8 million websites with more traffic than my own.
When I move my blog to a self-hosted server around the first of the year I expected a drop in traffic, but instead it almost immediately jumped to 3 million-something, and has been steadily climbing since then.
A self-hosted blog allows the use of add-ons, plugins and widgets that can enhance the attractiveness of one’s website for search engines. This is known as SEO, which stands for search engine optimization.
Just a couple of weeks later my blog’s Alexa ranking is now up to 1,722,713 (ranking likely to change by the time this is read).
For perspective, the website for my home town of Colby, Kansas, with a population of about 5,000, is ranked at a lowly 15,671,140. The local Kansas City gay rag, Camp, ranks 2,022,851, and Alexa give the local alternative arts and news publication, the Pitch a pretty amazing rank of 54,614.
Needless to say, I am quite happy to see this kind of improvement in such a short period of time.
As I said earlier, blogging is pretty easy to do nowadays… getting an audience takes more than just writing.
UPDATE 1/20/2010 1/24/2010 3/8/2010: The blog ranking continues to improve and is currently 1,383,003 1,245,836 567,472!