(Hollywood actress, Jayne Mansfield, proved “figures count.” Who’s her daughter? None other than comely Mariska Hargitay of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” )
There’s absolutely nothing dearer to a blogger’s heart than his or her ratings, because unless the author has some altruistic purpose in “throwing material out there, for the sheer joy of it,” she wants to know “Who’s reading my stuff?”…”What are my numbers? (Recall Julie of the movie “Julie and Julia” jumping in ecstasy the first time she learned anyone was following her blog.)
Now, I’ll admit it: I’m competitive. Stick a carrot in front of me (or tell me I can’t have something), and I’ll go after it with a vengeance. That drive has gotten me in a lot of predicaments in life, as well as afforded me success. But, as writer of a blog, I’m in a whole new milieu—technology (the world of computers), and crunching the numbers regarding my site isn’t easy.
But bloggers and all who follow them have a friend in Alexa. This is a tool that ranks all websites, a system of metrics that tells how a site is doing in Rank, Reach, Global Attention, Users, Time on Site (Minutes) and Bounce. The last category measures viewers that come in and bounce right off (interest isn’t sustained), so a high rating here—over 50%–doesn’t mean success. “Time on site” tells how long people stick around to read the material.
When I first installed the Alexa bar on my computer (easy to download, just access Alexa.com in browser, bring up site and follow simple instructions), I learned BiddyBytes’ rank was 25 million. I was ecstatic, foolishly believing myself an overnight phenom. It was then I discovered that a high number is what one doesn’t want (“Google is #1.”) I was 25 million because I had no readers.
Since then, my number of viewers has steadily climbed while my rank has dropped (good, while confusing). My blog is called “Encouragement in a Difficult World: Biddy Bytes Blog,” and it’s basically vignettes of experiences offering hope to others on life’s journey. I post stories on Mondays and Fridays with a provocative picture (photo), on Wednesdays. The photo/picture is a story in its own right.
When one has Alexa, she can access numbers and rank of other sites, too. I recently came across darleneegelhoff.com (also known as Metamorphosis of a Mom –MOM—catchy!) when I pumped in “blog of encouragement” –my category– in my browser. Her home page showed a young person (Darlene’s son?) standing, looking up to the skies, his arms open, as if imploring the heavens or merely graciously taking the beauty in.
Blogger Darlene is a 47-year-old Colorado woman who’s enduring some really big changes: she’s close to empty-nesting; she and her husband lost a restaurant they owned; they’re adrift. She’s been personal trainer, fitness instructor, restaurateur, while being wife and mother. But she has inordinate faith, and she invokes that faith often on her site (the Christian bloggers always figure high in the ratings wars…).
She’s got another attribute: She’s Heidi Montag’s Mom (you know, the 25-year-old starlet from “The Hills” who sustained innumerable plastic surgeries to achieve perfection). Her plastic surgeon was recently in the news, too, for running off a cliff in California, plunging to his death.
What’s her other Ace in the hole? Her celebrity. Darlene’s had guest appearances on “The Hills” TV show; she’s been in People magazine and US Weekly; celebrity gossiper Perez Hilton (perezhilton.com has Alexa rank of 689 global and 253 USA) mentioned her on his website. Apparently, they met at a wedding; Perez discovered she’s Heidi’s Mom (told you he’s a gossip junkie); and he mentioned her blog to his readers. Result? Darleneegelhoff.com got a bounce into the stratosphere!
Now, here’s the stunner: www.darleneegelhoff.com’s Alexa rank is 633,000, while Biddy’s is 636,805, and we’re roughly the same age (she started in August; I began in July).
Today, Biddy’s dropped 24,000,000 (remember–that’s really good), but she’s a baby in the blogosphere, despite the fact she’s got 84,000 visitors per month, worldwide, who spend approximately 101 minutes on her site daily (the average is 2-5 minutes)..
As creator, I’m heartened because I haven’t even begun to connect with the vast repertoire of social sites such as Digg, Stumbleupon, Delicious, Twitter, etc…etc…(You’ll find icons reflecting these at the bottom of most blog pages.) Why? I don’t know how and fear crashing my site, if I try.
So, Biddy chugs along and continues to build, keep, and grow audience…her niche of readers looking for hope (and often humor) on life’s journey. And the good news is: Today, she appears as guest columnist on Forbes,/CNN/NY Times-recommended kevinMD.com, voted “Top Medical Blog” in 2008 (see that site for Biddy’s “Pocketful of Miracles: Our Doctors” story). She’s slated for future posts, there,too.
But she suggests: If you’re a statistical person; you want to know how popular a site is in the world marketplace; or if you want a great toolbar that easily shows hot news on the web (that icon is “fire”), install the Alexa bar on your computer. But be forewarned: You’ll be entering addictive territory.
How do I know? I check sites’ statistics all the time…most of all, my own.
(Click on blue biddybytes.com# at top of post to access Alexa.com. Either download by hitting “Toolbar” or just put any web address in box marked “Search” to determine any site’s Rank, Reach, Visitors’ Time on site, etc. Alexa.com’s another tool to help you surf the world wide web.)