A Local Perspective on Life in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

TsukuBlog’s First Anniversary

I completely missed TsukuBlog’s first anniversary! I have a fairly good excuse (I was travelling around Africa at the time), but perhaps I was the only person who realized that I missed it so it doesn’t matter that much! Anyway, I would like to take this opportunity to share some thoughts about my first year of TsukuBlogging.

TsukuBlog came into existence on July 14, 2006. I started the blog because I wanted to:

  1. get information out to the Tsukuba international community faster
  2. allow a dialogue with the people in the community (through comments)
  3. give people another way to contribute to Alien Times so that I did not have to create as much content myself!

I think that we have succeeded at getting information out to the community faster. Or, at least, a few members of the community are getting the information faster. According to our FeedBurner stats, we have about 70 regular subscribers, with about half of the subscribers receiving the posts by email every morning. I would like that number to increase, but I am not sure how to encourage people to subscribe to the blog without sounding like an infomercial! (Subscribe to TsukuBlog now! It slices! It dices! It will even do your dishes!)

In addition to our regular subscribers, we also get about 1000 visitors per week, so quite a few people are finding the blog. I still think there are more people out there who could benefit from our services, though, so maybe we have to be more pro-active in seeking out links with other Tsukuba- and Japan-related blogs and websites.

When I think back over the past year, I feel like we haven’t received as many comments as I would have liked. However, when I look at the stats (we currently have 395 posts and 222 comments), I suppose we aren’t doing too badly in that department. And since many of our posts are about upcoming events or just information for daily living, I guess I shouldn’t expect a huge number of comments. It’s not like we are writing controversial articles that make people feel like they need to say something back to us.

If comment spam is a sign of popularity, however, we are definitely doing well! Akismet, the plugin that can be used with WordPress to fend off spam, has saved us the hassle of moderating 9361 spam comments! You would think that the spammers would eventually give up, but alas, they are more tenacious than that. If only they would use their powers for the forces of good…

The third goal was to get more people involved as “Tellers of the Tsukuba Story”. In that respect, I think that we have been extremely successful. Some people have contributed a lot (thank you, RRFish!) and some have contributed less, but I am equally grateful to all of our writers for taking the time to blog about their ideas and experiences in Tsukuba. I am always happy to see posts that are written by someone other than me (and I’m sure our readers are too)!

We have a Technorati ranking of 599,844 and our current authority is “12”, which I think means that 12 other blogs have linked to TsukuBlog posts in the past 3 months. I think that our Technorati ranking and authority are not likely to get much higher because our topic (everything you need to know about Tsukuba) is not really relevant to people who are not in Tsukuba (or connected to Tsukuba in some way). I’m sure that if we blogged about something more mainstream, we would be rewarded with higher Technorati stats, so I am not very worried about this indicator of our performance.

One thing that I would like to do is to improve the placement of TsukuBlog and Alien Times for the keyword “Tsukuba” in Google searches. I am not sure why, but Alien Times comes up on the 9th search page for the word “Tsukuba” and I am not even sure where TsukuBlog shows up. However, if you put just about any other word with “Tsukuba”, we show up much higher. I can’t really explain that result. Perhaps we need to start using the word “Tsukuba” in our posts more often so the Google crawler starts associating us more clearly with the city? Not sure.

Overall, I think that the blog is a success. I feel that we are providing a good service to the community and our efforts are appreciated by our readers. Over the next year, I hope that we can increase our subscribers and the number of people who casually view our site so that the information we provide can reach an even wider audience. I am not sure whether there are any particular topics that we should try to focus on over the next year, but I’m sure that if anyone has any ideas, they know how to tell us!

Here’s to another good TsukuBlogging year!