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Patrolling the blogs

November 17, 2005

There's no keeping those competitive instincts at bay. Even when your original purpose in starting a blog was to 'write for yourself', or to have a convenient forum on which to store your scattered musings, a time might come when you gaze into the vastness of the blogosphere and wonder, "How does my readership compare with that of others?" When those thoughts start to nibble at your mind, you know it's time to turn to site-count and ranking tools. Here are some:

Hit counts: To start with, there are the basic Web counters like Site Meter and Blog Patrol. On registering with these sites, you get an HTML code that you can paste into your blog template. Once that's done, you'll be able to keep track of the number of visitors to your site on an hourly and daily basis.

Personal take: Site Meter has been a consistent performer since I began using it last December, but Blog Patrol went through a couple of renovation phases when it stopped updating statistics for three to four weeks. Still, both tools are undeniably useful when they are working. 

I get information on the Google searches that are leading people to my blog, as well as the URLs of other websites that link to mine (this last is also useful for tracking people who enjoy your writing, have similar interests, or are saying nasty things about you!).

Blog ranking: Many of the ranking systems in the blogosphere are based not on the amount of traffic each site gets but on a system similar to the one used by Google to rate search results: the number of other sites that are linking to yours.

One of the most entertaining ranking systems is The Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem, which places blogs in categories that simulate a real ecosystem -- at the top of the food chain are 'Higher Mortals', at the very bottom are 'Insignificant Microbes'.

Categories in between include Playful Primates and Slimy Molluscs. Your status will keep changing depending on the number of other blogs linking to yours at any one time.

This is a fun methodology, but it can be misleading. If you have friends who are highly ranked bloggers and who link to your site, your own ranking will be high regardless of your readership. Also, personal bloggers (including some with high readerships) tend to get a bad deal because they aren't often linked to by the 'respectable' bloggers.

However, the TTLB does have a separate page on which blogs are ranked by traffic -- for this, you need to register with Site Meter.

Personal take: The last I checked, I was an Adorable Rodent in the TTLB Ecosystem. That sounds squeaky but it's decent going by Indian bloggers' standards. The top-rated Indian blogs incidentally include DesiPundit and India Uncut -- both are Large Mammals.

Note: There are, of course, many other webcounters and tools -- notably Technorati -- but the ones mentioned above are among the simplest to use.

Jai Arjun Singh, aka Jabberwock, blogs at http://jaiarjun.blogspot.com.


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