Google makes me SEO happy
One of the joys of writing a blog, as opposed to writing on bits of looroll you let the wind rip from your hands as you step from a Portaloo, is the little box on your dashboard – with WordPress at least – that shows the search engine terms people have used en route to finding you, the actual words they tap into Google.
I look at these regularly, searching for hints (over and above Site Stats, that love-hate numbers game of the blogger) that people like what I’m doing, or have at least thought to look for me.
In my case, I’m glad to say there are quite a few instances of people keying in “Paul Dalgarno” (and a not-surpising-because-it-happens-a-lot number looking for “Paul Delgarno”. Sure, I sometimes imagine snapping off the finger that’s typed the erroneous “e” but mostly I kind of like it: it makes me feel Cuban, like Scarface, and hard as nails.)
Some people type “innocent in australia” too, but the vast majority seem to have stumbled on to the site by accident. They’ve come to it blind and grappling.
An awful lot could be described as “miscalleneous” – search engine terms such as “sliding partition”, “mothers and sisters forego food in India”, and the diminutive “buh means”.
Sometimes I try matching the search term to the post, a wonderful game. When I see “craig mclachlan”, for example, I assume the person has ultimately clicked on Go Neighbours, go Yasi, a kind of kamikaze; when I see “adelaide drop dead” it must have led them to Adelaide you’re drop dead gorgeous …
The philosophy behind search engine optimisation involves making your posts, and particularly your headlines, rich in terms people are likely to be looking for anyway.
The first time I really tried to do this was with Oprah Winfrey and the Stanford Who’s Who. I was thinking, of course, that a percentage of people who punched Oprah Winfrey into their search engine of choice would find me, and that I’d become an internet sensation, and that Oprah would invite me on to her show. I had it all planned, you see.
On the day of posting I received the lowest readership figures of my blogging career and, I sincerely hope, my career as a professional writer.
It was a shock to the system. When no-one reads your blog, three things go through your mind:
- I’m not getting paid for this.
- Everyone hates me.
- I’m not getting paid for this and everyone hates me.
Now, some months later, that same post is one of my most-read and, in time, will almost certainly be number one.
Not for the Oprah part but the Stanford Who’s Who. Barely a day goes by without several, sometimes many more than several, searchers stumbling on to my site with search terms such as: “Stanford Who’s Who Australia is robbing me”; “Who is really behind Stanford’s Who’s Who?; and “Stanford who is who is legitimate”.
In case you haven’t read the post (ya punk!), I don’t endorse the Stanford Who’s Who; in fact I’m highly suspicious of it. But shit, what a goldmine.
As is fecal matter generally. My site is fourth IN THE WORLD, yes, IN THE WORLD, for the search term “crack the shits” thanks to the post Cracking the shits. I know, I know, stop boasting … pride precedes a fall …
Sometimes I find myself trying to picture the people making the searches and find it helps if I break them into types, a la:
Many find themselves beached on the shore of the site with questions such as: “are thongs innocent?” (which leads them to this post); or the even more philosophical: “is australia innocent?”
With a certain class of inquisitor – “what happened to the innocent convicts on the first fleet?” or “what is a australia day to write and at least not that long?” – I hope they haven’t taken my account of Australia Day too seriously. I wonder what their teacher might have said (because surely they’re teens trying to plagiarise) if they submitted a carbon copy of the post in question.
The sexually depraved/chronically bored
I feel ambivalent about these searchers. On the one hand, a reader’s a reader; but on the other, it’s a peculiar soul who wants to see a “nude woman in stirrups please”.
Someone else typed in “turboteats”, which I thought I invented in a post about turbo-birthing.
I’m unconcerned that someone out there was searching for “black booty bouncing nude” (for who among us hasn’t?) but am slightly taken aback that they then clicked on a post called Sydney (let’s whisper this), I love you.
I can only hope he/she found what he/she was looking for.
I’ve come to think of these searchers as “people in trouble”. Consequently, I feel guilty they’ve wasted time on my site, and only half-hope they’ll become life-long readers.
There are many people in this category, including whoever wrote: “my license was seized in melbourne airport”; and “I’m under snow in scotland”; and the very suspicious: “8.40pm accident heathmont”.
Call me a cynic, but could that have been the person who caused the accident trying to see if it had been reported? And then reading my blog!
These are search terms that make me feel glum. Such as: “possible causes of gurgling in throat and coughing up mucus in the elderly.” (Is it too much to hope they had a chuckle reading Kids are plague crow snot goblins that cause man flu?) The same post snared “crow cough and hot head fever in kids” and the charmingly illiterate “plague crow am we good?” Poor things. Sniff.
The silver bullet
These are by far the saddest of all; so sad, in fact, that the category can only handle one search term at a time. Until recently it was “find me friendly anyone in Melbourne” which went some way to breaking my heart. But that was replaced just last week by someone who must then have read the post When will I be famous?: “i want to be famous but i missed my calling.”
Oh, what was your calling, dear reader? Don’t despair.