Writing Blogs, Search Terms, and Our Corporate Overlords
I’ve talked about search terms before. Pretty much everyone who blogs regularly winds up doing it at least once, for the laughs if nothing else. We’ve all had someone wind up on our blogs because they were looking for “how to stab penguins in the ear” or something similar (and now stabbing penguins in the ear is forever tied to my blog in the mind of Google — I am hoist by my own petard). If I invited everyone to share one oddball search term that’s directed people to their site in the Comments section, I’d probably have my new Most Discussed post (and sure, knock yourselves out — what it’s there for).
But the funny ones are, for the most part, the exceptions. Most of them are weird terms that return no real results. Your blog somehow contained a hodgepodge of words that came closest to the gibberish about penguin mutilation. You don’t actually need to do much with them except post them for a cheap laugh once in a while. What I’ve always found interesting are the unrelated terms that aren’t isolated incidents, but wind up directing a substantial amount of traffic your way.
By way of example: the far-and-away most common search term directing people to this blog is not “Geoffrey Cubbage” or even a variant on “Misanthropology 101″ of some kind (though both are flatteringly high in the rankings). It is “yoga pants,” followed at some distance by “snuggie.” If regular readers are chuckling, it’s because I’ve mentioned yoga pants in exactly two posts: here and here. “Snuggie” appeared once, in the deservedly-popular “How to Shop for Your Neurotic Writer” post. Far more commonly-occurring phrases are things like alcohol, alcoholic, alcoholism, and get me a drink right fucking now, and once in a while something about writing. There are a few lessons to take from this:
1. Say Hi to Your Corporate Overlords
The majority of the internet gets used for one thing, and that thing is, well, porn. But discounting the porn, commercial use — buying and selling shit — takes up the majority of most people’s internet time (buying or selling porn gets you a two-for-one bonus, I guess). So expect some amount of traffic, most of it meaningless, to result from every reference you drop to popular consumer goods.
2. If a Search Engine Directed Someone to Your Blog, You Probably Aren’t What They Were Looking For
It’s sad but true. There’ll be exceptions — I’m sure people who Google “Ayn Rand overrated” and find “The Top 10 Most Absolutely Overrated Books You’ve Probably Had to Read” aren’t disappointed. But for the most part it’s people looking for a good deal on snuggies and finding out that Steven King has a really ugly mug. It’s up to you if you want to try and adjust accordingly. It probably wouldn’t be all that hard for me to throw together a list of “Seven Fantastic Things I Do in My Snuggie You’d Never Think Of” if I put my mind to it (despite not owning a snuggie). Is it worth my while to keep the snuggie-seekers that entertained? Hard to say. But those are regular hits I could reach out to if I really wanted to.
3. Half Your Hits are from Robots
This is another one in the “sad but true” category. A Google search for “snuggie” isn’t going to return me in anything close to the top ten pages of results. I’d be lucky to hit the top ten thousand. Most of those numbers are coming from data-sifting programs that just like to know what the internet is thinking about today (I could have told them “porn” if they’d asked), not from people searching for a term in the basic Google engine and finding their way to your site via direct clicks.
4. It’s Okay; You’re Still Relevant
So throw a word or two in for your snuggie fans, or your penguin mutilators, or whatever odd interest group keeps hammering your site with redirects. Smile and wave and perhaps contemplate calling the cops. Then go back to doing what you’re already doing. Real human beings will keep coming to your blog if you write interesting and varied posts. And maybe the robots will too — they lead boring lives.
Your turn in the Comments section. I’m popular with snuggie-wearers and fans of yoga pants, or at least of that picture of a hot chick in yoga pants I posted a while back. Who are your fans that you never expected to have, according to your incoming search terms?