Monday, 4 April 2011

Blogging: just another drop in the bucket

Despair.com
I started blogging on June 1, 2010. I'll come to what I'm doing and why, but I thought to take a moment to assess my situation.

WordPress publishes statistics on their system and as of this writing; they show over 18 million sites. Tumblr shows they currently have over 16 million blogs. Google apparently doesn't publish the number of blogs in their Blogger system. Technorati, a blog tracking company, covers over 1.2 million blogs and publishes a fairly detailed report on those blogs State of the Blogosphere. BlogPulse, a company that is part of Nielsen, identifies the number of blogs on the Net as currently over 159 million.

In other words, there are zillions of blogs out there in the world. Yes, I mean zillions.

World Wide Ratings
There are two web companies which provide ratings of sites. Alexa deals with web sites in general while Technorati follows blogs. I would like to provide definitive information on these two ratings but I see that there does seem to be some questions if not controversy about their accuracy and validity. In lieu of anything else, though, this is what I've been looking at.

Let me clarify. I know both WordPress and now Blogger offer built-in statistics on their systems so anybody creating a blog immediately has access to data about how many visitors and pageviews a site has. Alexa and Technorati, however, are offering a ranking of a site in relation to other sites.

Alexa
This company collects its data from people installing its Alexa toolbar in Internet Explorer. From what I understand, data about sites you visit are passed back to the company which it then uses to create its ranking of individual sites. This is where the controversy comes in as Alexa only has data provided by those people who install its toolbar. I'm sure this is quite the minority in the great big world of those surfing the Net so its ranking comes from a narrow audience. How does this fact affect its ranking or the validity of its ranking? Beats me, but there seem to be a number of people who criticise the company's pool of data.

Criticism: ShoutMeLoud
The main data Alexa get’s from is Alexa Toolbar, so if your site gets 20,000 UVs per day and only 10% of them would be using Alexa toolbar then Alexa will get data of only 2000 visitors. The remaining visitors probably won’t be counted or they would get data of them from different sources. So, all in all Alexa Rankings is not too much dependable for considering a website’s total traffic.

Disclaimer: CometSEO
The traffic data are based on the set of toolbars that use Alexa data, which may not be a representative sample of the global Internet population. To the extent that our sample of users differs from the set of all Internet users, our traffic estimates may over- or under-estimate the actual traffic to any particular site.

Okay, we've been warned. Unfortunately, I haven't found anything else representing some sort of global ranking. And, well, it's free!

Alexa's Top Sites show for the top ten (the entire list shows the top 500):

#1: Google http://google.com

#2: Facebook: http://facebook.com

#3: YouTube: http://youtube.com

#4: Yahoo! http://yahoo.com

#5: Blogger: http://blogspot.com

#6: Baidu: http://baidu.com
The leading Chinese language search engine

#7: Windows Live: http://live.com

#8: Wikipedia: http://wikipedia.org

#9: Twitter: http://twitter.com

#10: QQ.Com: http://qq.com
China's largest and most used Internet service portal

Alexa has Top 500 List, Top Sites by country and lists by category. You can find out the ranking of any web site by using their Site Information query. Note that lesser known sites may not turn up any ranking at all.

Technorati
In order to be a part of their system, you have to sign up and register your blog. Note that it only does English blogs. As of this writing, they are tracking over 1.2 million blogs. The company offers two numbers: the rank and the authority. The rank is a number which represents a site's position in relation to all sites tracked by Technorati with number one being the highest. The authority measures a site's standing and influence in the blogosphere with a scale from zero to one thousand with one thousand being the best authority. As well as an overall authority, the company offers authority numbers in various categories like entertainment, politics, Religion, Business, etc.

Technorati: Top 100 blogs

#1: The Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

#2: TechCrunch http://techcrunch.com/

#3: Mashable http://mashable.com/

#4: TMZ http://www.tmz.com

#5: Engadget http://www.engadget.com/

#8: The Daily Beast http://www.thedailybeast.com/

#12: The Official Google Blog http://googleblog.blogspot.com/

#13: Funny or Die http://www.funnyordie.com/

Where am I?
I asked the question out of curiosity. I wasn't thinking arrogantly, but was just curious to see how I may fit into the bigger picture. And let's be honest, the bigger picture is really, really big!

My Alexa rating: 3,999,973
There is a search box towards the top of the page. Copy and paste the URL of your own web site to find out how Alexa sees you in the grand scheme of things. I only found out about Alexa back in October 2010. At that time, I was ranked at 12 million.

My Technorati rating: 22,751
Number one is the Huffington Post and I'm up to twenty-two thousand out of 1.2 million. (Remember that only registered blogs make Technorati.)

So, just what the heck does any of this mean?
A little perspective is in order as you should always take a step back and look at yourself in the big picture. Okay, the bigger picture. After all, how many of us are "world famous"? Ha! Certainly not yours truly by a long shot.

Web Designer Depot: Too Many Blogs? by Cameron Chapman - Jan 6/2011

Chapman points out that we collectively suffer from content overload. There are just so many blogs out there, we can't read them all and any of us probably restrict ourselves only to a few dozen blogs on any regular basis. Most bloggers probably only have a few hundred, maybe a thousand unique visitors per month.

Chapman says that the blogosphere is merely an echo chamber with many producing no new content but merely repeating what has been published elsewhere.

While the author says there is always room for good blogs but there are more challenges facing anybody trying to get into the market. It is a huge investment of time and effort; you have to work hard to stand out. Building a readership is a slow process. Unless you are really, really popular, there is no money in blogging.

Heather Armstrong: Dooce
Like anybody starting out, I have surfed around trying to "get a feel" for writing on the web. This one turned out to be the eye-opening exception that many, I'm sure, strive to be.

Heather Armstrong rates her own Wikipedia article so that immediately tells me I'm dealing with somebody exceptional. The About Page of her web site says that she's a "professional blogger". Apparently she's developed such a following that both she and her husband could devote themselves full-time to this blog Dooce. The content of the web site seems to be her musings on life, being a mother, being hospitalised for depression, etc. Okay, this seems like the personal stories a lot of bloggers write about but she has parleyed this into a business? I looked up her ratings:

Alexa: 14,457

Technorati: 1,341

Good lord! This web site is rated way the heck up there. Why? I couldn't figure it out but Alexa did offer some sort of explanation:

About Dooce (dooce.com): Talking a lot about poop, boobs, her dog, and her daughter. Dooced: to lose one’s job because of one’s website.
Dooce's three-month global Alexa traffic rank is 14,457. This site has a relatively good traffic rank in the cities of Salt Lake City (#1,052) and Austin (#1,336). The fraction of visits to the site referred by search engines is roughly 6%. The site is based in the US. Compared with all internet users, Dooce's users are disproportionately female, and they tend to be moderately educated people under the age of 45 who have incomes over $30,000 and have more children.

Wow. How many of us make a living by merely writing about our daily lives? I've read a number of entries and yes, that's it. It's Heather writing about her daily routine, dealing with the kids, taking care of the dog, and occasionally snapping pictures of all this. Really? Her audience finds this that interesting? I may not "get it" but her ratings certainly impress me.

How long?
As I said, I started blogging on June 1, 2010. On June 30, 2010, the editor of the online newspaper Oye! Times which caters specifically to the South Asian community asked if he could republish my blog. I have no connection to this community but said yes and sometime thereafter, started writing news articles for the paper which were not part of my blog.

As of this writing, I've been at it for 307 days.

How much?
I have written 309 blog posts and another 333 articles for the newspaper. I calculate I will cross the 600,000 word mark in the next 2 days. I have averaged 1,900 words per day.

My personal situation changed about 6 months ago and starting October 1, 2010, I have posted to my blog at least once a day. Since then, I have averaged nearly 2,700 words per day between the blog and the paper. I realise though that I don't manage to reach the average every single day - After all I do have a job! - but I do make up for it on other days.

Why?
Good question. I've never tried to write before and I suppose a blog is a baby step.

I still haven't found my voice
I note that people seem to have a niche. That is, they write about one thing. Or they seem to write about a subject, like politics but with a distinctive style. It could be funny, sarcastic, whatever. There is, however, some sort of niche. - I am all over the map. I'm talking about everything and anything. I can see that somebody may drop in one day and find a posting they like only to drop back to find the current posting is about something totally unrelated. That may not be good.

I note that some people take a question and answer approach. They try to engage their readership by ending a posting with some questions then asking, "Dear reader, now what do you think?" I don't do that. I've shot my mouth off giving my opinion. Oops, wasn't that the point of this exercise? My opinion not yours? - I note I do not get many comments. Then again, I don't have that many readers.

My voice, the approach... hmmm? Investigative? Lots of foot notes to back up my points? I've gotten to hating how some people state their opinion but do not provide any materials to back up what they're saying. If you think two plus two equals five, that's fine. Just prove it okay?

I have taken to citing expert authorities with Ph.D.'s coming out the old wazoo rather than stating my own opinion. I figure having somebody like that make the point I want to make sounds more convincing than little old me stating his mind.

Well, where to go from here? Not sure. I wasn't sure why I started; I'm not sure what I'm doing now and I certainly have no idea of where I'm going. Heck, at any moment, I could set the whole thing aside and go off on another tangent. Maybe I'll take up knitting. I'm never done that before.

Apparently the author Dean Koontz said, "The first half-million words are just practice."

Now to answer the question, "Practice for what?"


References

Wikipedia: Technorati
Technorati is an Internet search engine for searching blogs. By June 2008, Technorati was indexing 112.8 million blogs and over 250 million pieces of tagged social media. The name Technorati is a blend of the words technology and literati, which invokes the notion of technological intelligence or intellectualism.

Wikipedia: Alexa internet
Alexa Internet, Inc. is a California-based subsidiary company of Amazon.com that is known for its toolbar and website. Once installed, the toolbar collects data on browsing behavior which is transmitted to the website where it is stored and analyzed and is the basis for the company's web traffic reporting.
The New York Times - Feb 12/2006
The Early Years By Clive Thompson

Wikipedia: Heather Armstrong

official web site: Dooce

Twitter: @dooce Heather B. Armstrong
Heather B. Armstrong
@dooce Salt Lake City
Mommyblogger, tyrant, snugglebunny
http://twitter.com/#!/dooce

Oye! Times - March 27/2011
Japan's continuing problems (new tsunami video) by William Belle
[The editor of the paper told me this article had 5,420 hits in the first 12 hours online. That is more pageviews than my entire blog gets in a month.]

Google search: all of my articles at Oye! Times

2011-04-04

Site Map - William Quincy BelleFollow me on Twitter

1 comment:

Big a said...

funny william ... i consider my blogging practise as well :)

i will continue with my novel soon!