Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Searchers

Confession: unlike freeman (though note follow-up and clarification), I am not opposed to the site meter. In fact, I am fascinated by it. I love the way you can take your data and put it into graphs and thereby pretend that you can predict traffic on your site. Even a computing moron like myself starts to feel all techie-like looking at it. I love it when for no good reason traffic is up, then the next day no one cares. What is not to fascinate?

But what I really like is the "referrals" page, saying how it is that people got to the site. I suppose it is a little like those marketing surveys, which ask, How did you learn about us?
A. From a friend
B. From the newspaper
C. From the radio
D. From your mom
E. Other ________________________

I am just crazy for the "Others," because mostly they arrive at this not at all humble blog (well, OK, humble in the sense of not too fancy, but still very much lacking in humility) through google and msn searches.

THOSE, friends, are my favorite.

Someone actually searched on "Don't get mad--get Glad!" and came to my site. And I've gotten a few hits from people looking for sea shanties, cowbells, not to mention those poor saps back in February trying to learn the calorie count of a paczek. (Give it UP: you don't want to know.) Thanks to March Madness, I am guessing, I have received a couple of hits from people searching for "jumping people," and even "reynolds wrap oven tempered for strength." (Do people just spend time searching the web for product slogans???)

The (as best as I can tell, based on entirely unscientific data-gathering practices) top hit-grabber, though, is "tinfoil hat emoticon." Now I frankly was pretty amused that there was such a thing, and so I could not resist mentioning it--but would you have guessed that people would search for it?

The trick is, I am starting to see, to write about mildly out-of-the-way and yet not entirely obscure things. I fear that no one searching on "Roomba" would be sent my way (and their loss, really).

Sometimes the site meter tells me that I am being watched. For instance, my post about 50 Cent, with its critique of the Daily Press, had not been up for 2 hours before Tribune Media Services (exact name?), the company that runs the paper, had read my post. I was honestly embarrassed: I still believe in my critique (such as it was), but I felt a little sorry that they read it. Because even though the Daily Press used to infuriate me in its coverage of national and world events, I feel a little nostalgic about it, because it serves my hometown.

And courtesy of the Patient Partner, I get a number of hits for "half-velocity coefficient." He concludes that this indicates that this term, championed by his diss director, is gaining ground in the engineering world. Go Jacques Monod!

But I am most sad to report, that against predictions from a smart friend, I have gotten no hits from google searches on "poo spirograph." Damn.


mtnRoughneck said...



I, too, use a stat service, mostly out of curiousity. Weird stuff shows up. Somebody hit Whiskey Tango after Googling "ibuprofen maximum dosage." My blog is the #1 match for that search phrase! And that's ridiculous.

Now I feel somewhat obligated to provide the dosage information as a public service. (800mg every eight hours until your stomach rips right out of your body.)



Isis said...

Howdy back, mR/WT. Well, now I suppose I'll be the #2 match for same.

By the way, I've gotten lots of hits from your comment about the Why French Women Don't Get Fat book. Thanks!


freeman said...

Hey there furious --

I'm not as opposed to site meters as you suggested. I've always thought of site meters as being strictly those services that merely count the number of people who've been to your site, which to me reeks of popularity contests and the predictable crud that arise from such things. I find it objectionable that one may actually judge a site by it's amount of traffic, so I'd rather stay out of that realm entirely.

With that said, I have become aware of other services that do seem kind of cool, such as the one you mentioned about finding out how people found your site. Services that track sites that reference yours also seem kinda cool.

I even found one that I definitely would have added to my blog if it was still available to the public. It's one that shows a world map and places dots where your site has been viewed. It struck my fascination in a geeky sort of way, and I admit that it could theoretically fall into the same trap as the site meters I don't like, but I still thought it was cool.

Isis said...

Hi freeman,

I see your distinction. I do think that your post, even if it was elicited by a disingenuous post by "libertarian girl," clearly lays out the downsides of site meters, so it was useful to set out as a counterbalance to the (albeit goofy) things I was saying.

I had not heard about the mapping meter: that sounds very cool indeed.