Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A Few Tools to Help You See Your Audience

I mentioned coComment! a few days ago. I've been playing with two other free blogging tools worth mentioning.

The first is Amazing Counters. The service has a wide variety of counters to choose from. Once you've installed the counter, the site gives you a variety site statistics, and allows you to monitor all hits or just unique hits. Another useful feature is being able to teach the counter to not count your own visits. On the down side, the counter comes with an advertisement link. Fortunately, you are able to make it very small (see the link at the very bottom of this blog).

The other tool is great fun. gVisit.com allows you to track visitors to your blog using a Google Map. To use it, register at the site and tell it your blog's URL. They give you a piece of javascript code to insert into the html code of your blog. For those of you using Blogger, this is easily accomplished even if you don't know anything about html. From your settings controls, click on the Template tab and paste the code into the page. It doesn't seem to matter where on the page it is, and it doesn't show on the blog.

After that, visit the link they gave you to view a world map showing the location of your visitors. You can also display the data on your blog. The free service allows you to track your 20 most recent visitors. If you donate any amount of money to them, they will expand your features, including allowing you to track the 100 most recent visitors.

After I set up a SuprGlu page to aggregate our student blogs, I'll add both a counter and a Google Map. As Mr. Kuropatwa says,
The real "blog juice" is the global audience. When kids finally realize that what they write is being read and talked about by people across the globe they are inspired to do better work; they want to make a good impression. ... This is the main reason all my class blogs have Visitor Maps. They were installed, but invisible, for the first two weeks of the semester. When the map links went live the students were able to "see" their audience immediately.
What an exciting time we are living in, when these powerful tools are free and easy to use.