The Drudge Report, one of the most popular news websites in the world, had its most successful year yet in 2012, with more than 11 billion views.

The eye-popping figure -- 11,103,636,815 to be precise -- is the highest in the site's 18-year history, and a good enough number to make the Drudge Report the Internet's 407th-most-popular site, according to Alexa.

That's not too shabby for a site that has just two employees and began humbly as an email newsletter in 1996 before hitting the big time at the beginning of 1998, when it broke the Monica Lewinsky scandal after Newsweek declined to run the story.

Matt Drudge, the site's namesake and owner, has been at the helm of the Report since the beginning, and he is behind its genre-creating news aggregation model. He is also the basis for the site's slant, which is generally conservative-leaning but has a long-running independent streak, much like Drudge himself.

The site sports a very simple and sparse design, but the layout helps it serve as a one-stop shop for folks wanting to know what's going on in Washington and around the world, at least as filtered through Matt Drudge's viewpoint.

The Drudge Report is essentially just a plain site featuring a few dozen links to the stories Drudge  deems most important, intriguing, or otherwise worthy of reading, at any given time, organized neatly in a clean manner with just a few photos.

Its design makes it very ease to browse, and many politicos and newshounds keep it open all day long to be on the lookout for the newest bits of information that will pop up the next time it refreshes.

The popularity of Drudge Report has been rising over time, and it in fact has risen to the 407th spot from 425th on the list of most-popular websites in just the period since September.

The site reported its number of views on its homepage on Wednesday, and accompanied it with a graph showing the growth of the site over time. In 2011 it had just over 10 billion, in 2010 it was closer to 9 billion, and so on, all the way down to 2005, when it was in the range of 1 to 2 billion.

This massive growth is due in part to the spread of the Internet and home computing, but it is also a function of Drudge Report's continued relevancy.

And it appears Matt Drudge and his colleagues are taking note, judging by a thank you message the site ran Wednesday.

"Thanks a billion!" the quote read. "For making 2012 DrudgeReport's BIGGEST in 18 year history..."