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 “snuggieisn’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?

In fairness, they might be on to something here.

  1. My most common search term hits are “favorite fictional character(s)” and “parenthetical interjection(s).” I think the oddest may be “exlibris cat tabby” but I dunno. The largest variety of search terms to my blog involve erotica or Terry Pratchett’s Unseen Academicals book.

    • Those are surprisingly focused, which suggests that your blog stays on-track better than mine. The erotica hits makes me feel better about my “yoga pants porn” numbers, though, which — while not as high as regular old “yoga pants” — are depressingly healthy.

    • t.o. Aster
    • January 31st, 2011

    I think you should put up answers to questions people search for and find your blog. It is really frustrating to search for things you really want to know about “Alice in Wonderland style flamingo croquette mallets” for instance and only find blogs which aren’t even about croquette. Speaking of which if any of your readers know where one could get a flamingo shaped croquette mallet I would love to know…

    • Part of the problem may be that you’re searching for a mallet used to make crunchy French pastries, rather than something to play croquet with.

        • t.o. Aster
        • January 31st, 2011

        The English language was ruined in 1066 and that’s not my fault.

        • But we all learned an important lesson about dotting our eyes?

  2. I’m kind of proud one soul found my blog with “Justice League belly-dance.” And somewhat disturbed by “humbert: i wish i knew how to quit you.” (Of course, the latter has seen a surge in popularity since I did my own post on search terms a couple weeks back. Or maybe it’s just the result of a bunch of robots thinking “yeah, I’d hit that.”)

    Alas, no one has made their way to my site using “Snuggie” yet, despite my mention of it as a fantastic way to repel ninja attacks.

    • A Google search for “Justice League belly-dance” was on the whole disappointing, I’m not going to lie.

  3. Definitely believe that that you said. Your favorite reason appeared to be at the net the simplest factor to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get annoyed at the same time as other people think about issues that they plainly do not recognize about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and outlined out the entire thing with no need side effect , folks can take a signal. Will probably be again to get more. Thanks

  4. This post amused me because I was searching to find out something about search terms. I recently began blogging a book about growning up with undiagnosed autism. I am about half way through at present, but I’ve made the mistake of naming my blogged book, Twirling Naked in the Streets… Lesson learned if you don’t want a whole lot of hits from people searching for “grandma naked” then do not use the word “naked” in the title. LOL

    I told stories of my grandmother and I growing up, and so the crazies searching for naked grandmas are finding me–disturbing. LOL

  1. May 6th, 2011

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