Blogging & Social Media Tips

Geek Out Down the Rabbit Hole #MyOldNemesisAlexa

4 Sep , 2018  

Mesmerizing

Look at all the pretty counters

I am resisting the urge to “metablog” as my friend Dave M once put it. Blogging about blogging. Writing about writing (or writers). Neither of those things are very interesting to anyone but bloggers and writers. It’s like all the backstage action at a theater – fun for the theater geeks, but ruins the magic for everyone else. I’ve always enjoyed knowing how the magic trick works, because I’m still able to suspend disbelief and enjoy the show. Not everyone can manage it.

BUT… I can’t help it. There is a challenge out there with the hashtag #MyFriendAlexa. Now, Alexa and I are barely on speaking terms, these days, since Amazon bought it (most likely to protect the trademark in their voice response gadgets) and started charging exorbitant rates for things that used to be free, like certifying site metrics and getting insights on your traffic sources beyond the current freebie basics. So while I won’t be participating in the challenge, I do think it’s great fun to periodically kill off my blog, then resurrect it from the ashes, and see how quickly I can go from relative Alexa obscurity to “Whoa, Nelly, how’d she do THAT?” (Does anyone really think Alexa is an important metric, in 2018? I’m told it’s MOZ, these days, which is much harder to game.) The first screenshot is from 08/27/18. The second is from this morning – 09/04/18:

As of yesterday, my Traffic Rank in the US went from — to six digits, leaping up by about 100K in the past 24 hours. That’s what led me to wondering “how many active websites are there in the US?” I can’t help but think that some very active websites have a lower Alexa rank.

And for all you readers out there (all 34 of you, at last count), I apologize for the fact that my site’s slower than 80% of all the others. It’s the pretty pictures, I’m sure. And I’ve tried compressing them some, but…meh, you’re not complaining, and I couldn’t care less what Alexa thinks.

Alexa claims it can’t be so easily manipulated. I’m not sure. I jumped about 3.4 million spots before even posting a new blog – after taking about two months off. I reinstalled their browser extension. I don’t know of any way to exclude my own visits from their counter (since I’m not about to pay $150/month for “certified” site metrics!) And this is the first blogging geekery post I’ve made here in a long time, but what do you want to bet this gives my rank a boost?

I commented on about 20 of the #MyFriendAlexa posts over the weekend, dropping my blog’s URL in the comments section at every opportunity.

I added a plug-in to beef up my Schema.org tagging.

And finally – finally – I blogged. Several times. Take that, #YouJerkAlexa. That’s when I got my US rank back.

Don’t think I can’t do it, either. I once took a now-vanished-from-the-web-entirely site from unranked to 15K worldwide, in ten weeks. It took a whole team of the most fantastic bloggers I know to help it get there, and pretty much left me despising all blogging challenges and contests from that day forward, but don’t think I can’t – with my weirdly competitive streak – if I wanna.

Burnout is real, people. Don’t chase the stats. Write for the love of it, or don’t. Enjoy the networking; build engagement between real human beings. Make friends on the Web.

Alexa doesn’t give a damn about you. Alexa is not your “friend.”

Updates

01/21/19:

Who am I kidding? Take two lousy weeks off, and slide back a month’s–er, no, take THREE lousy weeks off and slide back a month’s worth of stats. Stagnate, in other words. I should’ve taken a screenshot the day I noticed I’d landed in the 99,000 range for the US. I was busy, and forgot to do that. Now, I have to work to recoup the losses. Or not. But you know, this is a good reminder that something out there gives brownie points for writing regularly.

Alexa Stats for January 21,2019

Does this matter? Not one bit. But, as my grandmother used to say, “You have to write letters to get letters.” No one’s going to leave comments, if the search engines won’t lead them to the blog. It’s not exactly hard to get a boost with a post or two. I should try to keep this up for a solid 10 weeks and see if it’s gotten harder or easier over the past 8 or 9 years. Where do we top out and start playing with the big boys?

12/29/18:

It took a little while to recover from the http: vs. https: thing. Mainly, I think, because most of the links in to my site are http: and Google sees them as distinct from https:. It did not drop me back to “who the hell is Holly Jahangiri?” but it did take a while for my own site to bubble back up into the top search results. And then there were year-end project deadlines to meet, at work, and vacations and holidays and… excuses, excuses! The fall in search engine results is offset, of course, by the Knowledge Graph on Google.

Also, most of the “sites linking in” (150 at last check) are probably old. Really old. In some cases, abandoned (but still existent). It’s hard to build links organically, today. It’s hard to get anyone to click on links; I blame sneaky, underhanded ads and marketing ploys for the erosion of trust and purpose on the Web. Infolinks, Outbrain, and the like are a trap for the unwary, and they don’t stay unwary long.

For once, I recognize every one of the “similar sites” listed. That’s unusual, and I wonder if it has to do with recency of comments and links between us.

Here’s where things stand today, at the end of 2018:

It’s interesting that the global rank is almost back to about where it was in October, while the US rank has fallen, some. My best rank for the year, as far as I know, was 474,413 Globally, and 100,336 in the US. I did better at this when I set goals, monitored metrics, and actively looked for ways to improve the site in general. So here’s the next one: back under 100K global by my birthday!

SMART GOALS! Specific, Measurable, Aspirational, Realistic, and Time-Bound.

10/23/18:

I’m no longer checking daily, or even weekly. In fact, I mostly forget Alexa exists, unless I see mention of it on someone else’s blog. I’ll admit it’s a little gratifying to play this game, to see how quickly I can get this blog to rise from the ashes. (But it’s a bad habit, letting it burn down till the embers cool, just to resurrect it again, and I apologize for neglecting this place like a seedy corner bar, when I do. You regulars who’ve stood by and even followed me through several moves deserve better, and I am trying.) Anyway, here’s today’s stats:

For once, I see a blogger I know listed under “Similar Sites,” and I’m thrilled to be in such good company. Shout out to @CorinneBlogs and everydaygyaan.com!

09/12/18:

One week after the original post – this week’s leaps come courtesy of almost daily (and sometimes multiple posts in one day) blogging. I mean, after a two month hiatus, search engines are hungry for new content and the Google gods must be appeased. Using JetPack Publicize to automatically blast new posts out to my social media sites: Twitter, the blog’s own Facebook page, Tumblr, and Google+ (which is still relevant and active, despite any rumors to the contrary); sharing among friends and within Write Tribe, a smallish but kind bunch of bloggers – based in India but with an international membership; and commenting on friends’ blogs, are about the only things I’ve done to promote A Fresh Perspective. No frenzied blog challenges, no begging, no dropping links on every blog that would let me… in fact, I think I’ve linked out more than in.

There is one other cool bit of news. Google me – my first and last name. Google is the first major platform to “Verify” me, and they let me suggest edits (a link back to this blog, and links to all my verified social media platforms). I now have a Knowledge Graph of my very own! That said, they won’t let me comment on most Blogger blogs, lately – even when I’m logged in on my Google account, both on my laptop and on my Android phone. If you blog on Google’s Blogger/Blogspot platform, and ever hope to hear from me, send them a complaint. I’m not the only one having difficulties with this, and their forum was no help at all. The only response I got there was an add for “blank ATM cards” with a $5000 daily withdrawal limit. I don’t even know what that means, but it sounds shady AF, doesn’t it?

Oooh, just realized one more thing! webmaster.google.com sees http: and https: as different sites; I resubmitted a brand new sitemap today. That should give things a bit of a boost, too. It hadn’t been updated in a week!

Facepalm Moment

You know that you overuse ellipses when one of those site summary sites says your site ranks for the keyword hellip.

 

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10 Responses

  1. I wouldn’t trade the pretty pictures for all the links in Germany! Unless they were bratwursts. But you ought to capitalize on that long-tail lemur.

    (I hear you saying, “Wait, Mitch, don’t you mean ring-tailed lemur? What is a long-tailed lemur?” To which I reply, “Hellip I know!”)

    Writing for the 34 appreciative followers is so much more satisfying than streaking across the night sky–visible to millions, but forgotten in seconds.

    Cheers,

    Mitch
    Mitchell Allen recently posted…Social TouchstoneMy Profile

    • Right you are about that!! As long as even one or two drop by regularly, I’m happy. I do kind of miss the conversations in comments that used to go on and on and on.

      I was a little horrified, over the weekend, to see that about 99% of what little traffic I had to this site was what’s called “referral spam.” I filtered that out, spent about five minutes feeling horribly discouraged, but reminded myself they were never really there at all. And now that I’m writing, real people are coming back! 😁

  2. This is the most sensible post I have read in a long time. I would love to share this, if you don’t mind.
    I started writing a year back. All I did was pen down my thoughts and left for people to read and decide if they liked it or not. I didn’t even know that you needed to track stats. Alexa, DA, PA and moz are words I learnt in July this year. Infact until the A2Z challenge happened I didn’t even know if I didn’t even know there were social media groups to post your link and find other writers. I’m discovering new blogs, people and metrics now. I still don’t understand much about the last one. I love writing and I will continue doing that because that’s my passion turned into profession. Whether Alexa chooses to get decent or be my enemy is her choice. It won’t dampen my spirit

    • Yes, please do share! And never let anyone or anything dampen your spirit. Why do you blog? Focus on that. Each person’s answer is slightly different and personal. Metrics are just that, and are meant to serve YOU, not the other way around.

  3. Pierre Laberge says:

    The only Alexa I ever liked…..

    Was the one in the song. The Downeaster.

    By Billy Joel….

    “Well I’m on the Downeaster Alexa
    And I’m cruising through Block Island Sound
    I have charted a course to the vineyard
    But tonight I am Nantucket bound ….”

    Gads, but then chap CAN sing!

  4. That’s an amazing jump just from a couple of articles. I hadn’t realized Alexa was that easy to manipulate; it must mean I’m doing things wrong. lol

    You’re already hearing about challenges; probably because you’re more apt to participate in them than I will. The last one I did was when we did the Sunshine challenge; that was a very long time ago.

    Oh yeah; Downeaster Alexa was on the Storm Front album which had the song “We Didn’t Start The Fire” on it.

    • Thank you for explaining that! (Good lord, I have to stop giving you a hard time for not getting old Disney references, after this week!)

      I hear about the challenges through Write Tribe. 🙂 Fun bunch. It’s almost like the old days (and in many ways, better). I was telling them, today, that I think India has more bloggers with more human engagement than we have in the US. There, community seems to carry more weight, and this particular group is mostly personal bloggers, not MMO hustlers. I had to do something to recapture the fun of it. That used to be my #1 rule, didn’t it? Seems a million years ago… but you know, when you need an escape from your “escape,” you’re in trouble. And I’ve been there, on and off, for about 6 years, with blogging.

  5. BellyBytes says:

    The most useful blog post I’ve read in my current war against Alexa . I now understand the very basis of an Alexa rank. Thanks for this informative article Holly.

    • I’m glad you found it helpful!

      No point being at war with Alexa. Alexa doesn’t CARE. Are you paying them? Are you planning to pay them?

      See https://www.alexa.com/plans – that “Certified Alexa Rank for Your Site” used to be free. But other than adding a little code to your site and getting a tiny little badge you could show off and brag about to your friends, who cares? And trust me, it’s not worth burnout or killing the fun of writing and blogging.

      Huffpo has a DA of 94/100, btw.;) Their Alexa rank is 319 WW, 77 US.
      Flipkart.in has a DA of 85. Alexa is 166 WW, 10 in India.

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