Thursday, 19 June 2014

What Widgets installed on my Sidebar and Why


Are you wondering what kind of widgets I have installed on my sidebar, and how much does it cost?

How much is that widget in the sidebar?  (woof woof)
The one with the wiggly line.
How much is that widget in the sidebar? (woof woof)
I do hope that widget is for sale.

Wonder no more. All the widgets in my sidebar aren't for sale. They're free! I don't believe in spending a cent on SEO. On the internet, some of the best things are usually free.

Let's go through the widgets in the sidebar on the left, one by one. Shall we?


Google Translator

Google Translate widget

I put this widget on and off a few times. On the surface, this widget is useful because it allows foreign readers who don't speak English to read my blog.

Well, how do visitors come to my blog? Usually they do so via Google searches. And the reason they find me on Google search is because they type English into the search. If they type, say, in Hindi, my site would never come up in their searches.

Or would they?

Well, I was wrong because one user did come to my site by typing the following querry "وانغ يو ديفيد شانج". This is obviously not English. This translates into "Wang Yu David Chang" in English. I don't read Arabic, this comes from google translator. And if google has such a translator, it's not surprise it would do a translation for such a search query as well. Of course, Arabic isn't the only non-English search query that points to my site, it's just stands out in my traffic report.

And then one can argue, maybe the visitors to my site are bilingual, but they can understand their own language better. I have used this widget to translate my blog into Chinese. Well, the result is funny at best, plain misleading at worst. Machine translation isn't going to replace human counterpart any time soon.

Or would they?

Here's an example of a possible machine translation of a well known Biblical quote from Matthew 26:41 (King James Version):

             "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak"

This could easily translated by machine into something like,

             "The alcohol is agreeable, but the meat is soft"

Sounds like a great dinner.

Food aside, according to scholars, the Bible is full of erroneous translations by people. Since machine is far short of the human standard, how well can be expect machine to match human? After all, translation is as much as an art, if not more, than a science. Machine isn't good at arts.

So for all these reasons, I question how useful is the Google Translator. Having said that, the google translator is getting smarter. Furthermore, in the resulting translated pages, one can hover a mouse over the text to look at its original content in English. So if something looks very strange after translation, check it out by looking at the content in its original language.

In any case, the cost of including this widget in my sidebar is low. It didn't slow down the page load time significantly. I decided that the small price worth adding it in.



Paypal Widget



Some people may refer this donation button as begging. Begging is where someone standing (or sitting down) on a street sidewalk, do nothing and expect hand outs. Perhaps they appeal to the sympathy of the passer-bys. Buskers don't.

Busking involves providing something to the public - singing a song, playing an instrument, juggling some balls, drawing some artworks on the ground - for voluntary donations. In the bloggers' case, they provide blogging. The blog posts can be as entertaining as juggling, as inspiring as singing, as artistic as street arts, etc. In fact, what they offer are far more varied than buskers, and in greater quantity. And you can enjoy them in the comfort of your own home.

So if a busker deserves some monetary rewards, why shouldn't a blogger? We're busking, not begging. Having said that, I don't expect cash donation is flooding in any moment as the idea of busking as a blogger have never caught on. I suspect because readers believe that bloggers are getting paid by advertisers. Yes, we do. But most of us are getting it at a small fraction of what the buskers are getting. Some of us are getting a few dollars a year !!! Well, things might improve a few more years down the lines. Well, let's say you can't do this full time, in general. Only for fun.

In any case, I'm barking up the wrong tree. Because the readers who read this post are likely going to be bloggers. I'm preaching to the choir.

To add the donation button, go there, follow the instructions to obtain the code to put into your page element.



Feedburner Subscription



Go to Feedburner to install it, and follow the instructions.

The installation of this feedburner widget is important at least in several ways.

1.  It allows your readers to be notified when you add any new posts, and they can read your blog posts using their favourite feed readers such as Google Readrs or Bloglines, etc. Or you can simply get notified by email if you decide to read the blog post on this site.

2.  Another benefit of RSS feed is syndication. After all, RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. This way the subscribers can read our blogs on their favourite readers or aggregators.

Once you have created your RSS feed, you can submit your feed to many directory that accept RSS feeds. Of course, the best known of this is Technorati. But you're spoilt for choice. Once you submit those directory sites, users of those sites will be able to find you from their directories.

However, submissions to some of these directory charges fees, some expect reciprocal links. Scroll to the the bottom of my blog (Ctrl + End), and you'll see a few rows of widgets. They're directories that need reciprocal links from me. Feel free to click on them, and they will take you to their directories.

3.  Another benefit of submitting our feed to the various feed directories are possibilities of increasing backlinks if users decide to put your URL in their sites or forums, and also improve link buildings.

4.  Feedburner let you track, and manage your feed in all kinds of ways.

Just a final note regarding to the "subscribers" number appear on this widget. Most of us would notice that these "Subscribers" figure can jump wildly from day to day. One wouldn't expect subscribers to subscribe or unsubscribe from your site in great numbers on a daily basis.

This figure can change by as much as 80% from day to day. Instead of think of them as "subscribers", one should think of them as "Readers". This term is in fact what I, and many others, use in this widget. This is the number of "Subscribers" who actually read the content of your site via your Feedburner feed (as supposed to access your site via google searches, or directly, or other means). If nobody accesses your feed on a given day, this count would be zero. This doesn't mean suddenly all your subscribers have left you en masse. No need to panic.

Most days, visitors come to my blog through google searches.



Blog Stats



This simple widget tells visitors to my blogs a little stats about my blog. It reports the total number of published posts and comments on my blog.

Nothing fancy. A nice widget if your blog actually has a lot of posts to impress your blog readers.

As this widget is implemented in JavaScripts, I thought it doesn't increase my load time significantly, so I've decided to throw it in.

To implement this widget, add the following javaScripts into the page element:


If you want the font colour to be black because your blog has a white background, then change the "font color" from "white" to "black".




Flag Counter



Once again, I like to share my blog's stats with my visitors. While the Blogger's own traffic reports would tell me the stats, but there's little that I can share with my blog visitors in the form of a widget. The Blogger's own widget shows only the total traffic. This isn't too interesting for the visitors.

After looking around on the net, I found this Flag Counter. It doesn't just report figures, but do so in a snazzy ways. It also reports the countries of origin of the visitors to my blog.

There's a forum associates with this Flag Counter. One of the thing the forum members do is collecting flags from different countries. This could become an addictive hobby. I was too addicted to it briefly in the beginning, seeing a new flag appearing on this widget. A new flag represents an internet user discovering my blog from the people of a country that had never visited me before.

Many people in the forum like me would wake up in the morning and check their Flag Counter to see if any visitor from a new country had came to their blogs.

Other have developed the whole new hobby of collecting as many different flags as possible by trading flags from others in the forum. Before this, I knew only about people collecting international stamps or currencies, now people have invented the hobby of collecting virtual national (and regional) flags. What do they think of next?

While I don't get much excited as I used to, but I still leave it here to share both the traffic info as well as this strange hobby with my blog visitors.

In this article "Blogger vs Flag Counter Pageviews Stas", I talked about the difference between the 2 widgets in greater depth.

This widget, together with the next 3 widgets, allow the webmaster to monitor the popularity / authority of its blog in a quantitative way.



Google PageRank



According to Matt Cutt of Google, there're some 200+ signals that Google uses to work out your Google search results, and the Google pagerank (PR) is just one of them. While there're 200+ signals, I imagine they aren't carrying the same weight. Judging from the attention it's getting, it must be quite an important single measure.

This widget let you find out the Google PR for your blog. The question is, now that you have the widget and the PR number, how do you interpret it? In other words, is a PR of 3 good, bad or ugly?

The table below gives you some idea.

PR What does it mean
0 You probably just started your blog, and Google has not crawled it yet.
1 Very low ranking. Your blog probably has only a few posts.
2 Below average. You don't have many posts, and / or you publish them infrequently.
3 Average. Most of the blogs - including mine - fall into this rank.
4 Above Average. You're doing well as an individual blogger. Keep it up.
5 Good. Your site is probably a commercial website.
6 Very good. Many popular porn sites ranks here. E.g. xvideos.
7 Excellent. A number of regional Google rank here. E.g. google.ae.
8 Outstanding. Sites with household names like amazon.com and bing.com.
9 & 10 Few make it here. They're usually social media sites like Twitter, facebook and addthis.

I suspect that if anyone has enough data to plot a distribution of Pagerank of websites, I think it would be a positively skewed bell curve with a mode of 3.

With the purpose of my blog and my limited resources (I've spent zero dollar on SEO), I don't expect it will ever go above 4, and quite happy when it achieves a PR4. If I ever get a PR5, I'll be quite ecstatic (I can't really be more popular than porn sites, can I now?).

I have came across sites with the same PR3 as mine, but it has 100,000+ backlinks while I have far far less (not even in the same league) because I haven't really tried to build them. It seems that you can have maybe 1,000,000 backlinks and if they're low quality, they don't really boost your PR. Because I spend only minimal effort (and zero cost) in building backlinks, I've to conclude that all the backlinks I have must be of reasonable good quality that resulted from my articles. My advice is, focus on your content. Content is king.

To check if my Google PR is real, simply google "pagerank checker" or simple "pagerank check". Go to these websites, and check out my PR.



Alexa Traffic Rank



Some people think that Alexa Traffic Rank is a joke. For one thing, it can be gamed to your advantage. Another thing, it seems to be only ranked among Alexa users. Is it true?

Alexa Traffic Rank and Google Pagerank have quite a bit of overlap. But there're also some very wide divergence.

As my blog isn't a commercial website where generating incomes is its main purpose, I don't take my Alexa Traffic Rank too seriously. Like all the previous 2 widgets above, I put here to share info with my visitors. And they can interpret these figures anyway they like.

For people who are more serious about Alexa, they may want to know if installing this Alexa widget would help to improve their ranking.

Firstly, I have installed the Alexa toolbar about a year ago before this widget. And my traffic rank just after I installed the Alexa toolbar was around 25,500,000 (you can see this figure from waybackmachine. Yes, my blog looked a little different then). Just after I installed this Alexa widget, my Alexa Traffic Rank was 1,300,000. It improved quite quickly from 1.3 million to a touch under 1 million in a matters of days. But it had stabled around this figures for a couple of weeks now.

Now, this is what Alexa said about if Alexa toolbar does or does not effect your site's ranking,
"Alexa’s measurement panel is based on a very large and diverse set of browser extensions and plug-ins. Alexa toolbar is just one of many browser extensions that include Alexa data"
Let me put it this way. Before I installed the Alexa toolbar, when I tried to find out my Alexa Traffic Rank, Alexa returns no data. I think most of you have similar experience. I guess I have none of the browser extensions or plug-ins that they mentioned (and they didn't mention what they are). If we don't have them, we don't get measured, meaning you're ranked lower than anyone who has been measured. As soon as you install Alexa toolbar, you're placed at the end of the queue, and measurement starts. Your traffic ranking can only improve from the last position. As more and more traffic data about your site is gathered, naturally, your traffic rank improves.

At first, it improves very quickly as you start off from the last position even if your site have a lot of traffic and/or visitors. Eventually, your Alexa Traffic Rank stabilises as it should be. In other words, your improvement by installing Alexa toolbar is because comparison is being made among Alexa community (those that are measured by the above mentioned browser extensions and plug-ins, whatever they're, and not just the toolbar).

This also makes sense when it was claimed that Alexa Rank is more accurate for the sites that rank near the top than the bottom. It's unlikely that the high profiled sites aren't being measured by Alexa. Many tiny fishes would escape its large but sparse net.

Ok, now that you have the toolbar and the widget, what are these figure means? Is the Alexa Traffic Rank of around 1 million good or bad? Well, considering that there're more some 600 million websites worldwide (at the time of the publication of this post), I reckon ranking 1 million is not bad. I'm happy I don't rank 600 million. If you're measured by Alexa (you're a member of the Alexa Club), you're already better off than those who aren't being measured (Outsiders), as far as Alexa Traffic Rank is concerned.

So I could say that installing the Alexa toolbar alone would "improve" Alexa ranking in the way I describe above. I don't know how much more improvement, if any, by installing this Alexa widget as well. As I said before, I'm doing this for the purpose of sharing my blog's stats.  I suspect it only reports and doesn't measure, which makes sense. Why would Alexa needs 2 tools to do the same thing?

Before 2014 (I don't know the exact timing), you can get JavaScripts for this widget from this link,

http://www.alexa.com/siteowners/widgets.

When I tried to access the above URL just a few weeks ago, it seems to have terminated. Now (as I'm typing this post) it seems that this dead link has been redirected to another link,

https://alexa.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/201514680.

Just in case the link is gone again, here's the html snippet that you need to place into your page element,



Of course, you need to replace "your_site" with the URL of your own blog or website.

By the time you read this post, my rank would have moved up much more...or not !

This is another difference between Alexa traffic Rank and Google Pagerank. Alexa Rank tends to fluctuate regularly as your site traffic is higher or lower relative to other sites. Google Pagerank is much more stable, and tends to grow organically and gradually with time as your site evolves. But this could simply be an illusion as Google Pagerank is divided by only 10 values while Alexa Rank uses actual values.

Also Google update PR only 1 or 2 times a year while Alexa updates its values more often, even these values are based on a 3 months average.



MozRank







This is the 3rd and last widget I installed that measures the popularity of my site (actually I only installed this after I published this article).

If you don't want to bother to read the official definition of precisely what MOZ Rank measures, here's a quote of their brief explanation,
MozRank represents a link popularity score. It reflects the importance of any given web page on the Internet. Pages earn MozRank by the number and quality of other pages that link to them. The higher the quality of the incoming links, the higher the MozRank
Since the page is the home page of my site, the MozRank is therefore referred to the website. In terms of how it is scored, the MOZ website has this to say,
We calculate this score on a logarithmic scale between 0 and 10. Thus, it's much easier to improve from a MozRank of 3 to 4 than it is to improve from 8 to 9. An "average" MozRank of what most people think of as a normal page on the Internet is around 3.
You could say that my MozRank is above average with a score of 4 (actually is 4.07). For now.

Since this is a logarithmic scale (like the Richter Scale that measures earthquake), an increase from 3 (the average) to 4 isn't equalled to an increase of 33%, which is an arithmetic scale increase. It's an increase that much more than 33%.




Copy Space



This isn't really a widget, but simply a banner to warn people who want to steal my content. Clicking this image simply take you to to their website. I don't know how well they work, but I know for a fact that Google is far better at detecting duplicate content. After all, it's all part of their operations. One way that Google goes about this is through Google authorship, which Google help me to claim my content. But this warning banner works better in scaring off potential scrapers.


All the little "widgets" at the bottom of the blog are reciprocal links that are required by these directory sites if my blog were to submit into their directories.


For third party widgets (those that aren't supplied by Blogger), you can always can it by clicking onto the widgets themselves. In fact, this is usually the requirement to allow my blog visitors to sign up to their widgets.

Happy widgetting !!!



1 comment:

  1. Your widgets explain above are very important for blogging. Indonesian Blogger

    ReplyDelete