As teachers, we’re focused on helping our students to polish their work. Some of us set up a classroom blog so that our students have an authentic reason to write: to publish their work online to a larger readership – the world.
Then, the harsh reality sets in. It appears that no one is visiting your blog.
This post isn’t about how to drive traffic to your classroom blog, although that’s a vitally important step. (As soon as we figure it out, we’ll let you know.) Instead, this post is to figure out how popular is your blog.
How To Figure Out If Your Blog Is Popular
We’re teachers, not web designers (for the most part). So, although many of the following points might be common knowledge to bloggers and designers, if you’re not a teacher in the biz, chances are it’s new to you.
- Do strangers leave comments on your posts or your students’ posts? If the only people leaving comments on your student work are students in your class, then you’re missing out on the power of the internet. There’s nothing more exciting than seeing your first comment from somebody out in cyberspace… Just make sure you consider internet safety and figure out how to protect your students online.
- Are you tracking your visitors? Most teachers don’t know how to set up a wesite, let alone track visitors, but one of the most exciting things can be knowing that other people are visiting your site. You can install a free invisible webtracker like statcounter which will collect data about provide detailed real-time stats about who your visitors are. (You’ll need to be able to edit the HTML code of your blog directly, which means you’ll probably need to run your own self-hosted blog,)
- Do you know where your visitors are from? One of the most attractive features about running a classroom blog is that people from around the world can read your work. A free widget like clustrmaps displays a map right on your blog showing where your visitors are from. Your students will love it. (You’ll need to be able to edit the widgets on your blog, which means either a classroom blog hosted by 1) an educational service like edublogs, 2) a free blog service like WordPress.com, or 3) a self-hosted blog.)
- Does Google know who you are? Search engines can drive a lot of traffic. If you type in site:http://blog.classroomteacher.ca, you can see if this site is indexed by google. Although the googlebots regularly crawls the web and updates the index, you may want to submit your site directly to Google.
- Does Google consider your site important? Google PageRank (PR) is a score out of 10 ranking how important Google considers your classroom blog. Zero means Google doesn’t consider your site important or your site is brand new. In comparison, a PR of 10 means your site is the ultimate authority. (Curiously, Google.com has a PR of 10). Today, Blog.ClassroomTeacher.ca has 7 posts, 1 page, has been active for approximately 2 months, and has managed to get a PR of 3. (There are several sites online that will allow you to check the PageRank of your classroom blog.)
- Do other people consider your site important? There are several different ways to measure the popularity of a classroom blog. Alexa is a traffic rank where the lower your number, the more popular your site is. (We currently have an Alexa rank just over 2 million.) Your Alexa score is based on the number of Alexa users (people who have downloaded the Alexa toolbar). Similarly, Technorati is a rank of how popular your blog is in the blogosphere. The lower your technorati rank, the more popular the site. (We have a technorati rank just over 1 million.)Jon Lee has a neat little piece of code that lets you show off some of your blog stats. Showoff Rankings will proudly display your Alexa, Compete, Technorati and Google PageRank (although you do have to manually enter your Google PageRank because it’s against Google’s Terms of Service to have it automatically updated. Some bloggers might throw in a PageRank of 10, but they’re not really fooling anybody.)