12 July 2008

Scandal in Montana and Google Analytics

So late the-week-before-last, I was surprised to discover that 101 people had looked at my blog in one day. This is quite a lot, compared to my usual daily audience of about 10-20ish (which I’m very happy with). How on earth did these extra people find me?

Turns out they were mostly coming to my post about the book awards furore, and they were mostly coming from Ron Silliman’s popular poetry blog. In a long list of various links he’d included one that said ‘The scandal in Montana’. So I’m sure many of the people who clicked it were expecting to find some kind of sex expose in the US state, and were probably very disappointed to discover that it was just some little book awards thing in New Zealand. Nevertheless, I was terribly excited to have had so many visitors.

The reason I know how many people look at my blog, and how they get there, is through Google Analytics, a handy wee thing that tracks your blog (and/or website) stats. It doesn’t tell me who my visitors are, or anything so creepy as that; but it does tell me how many visitors I've had, where they are geographically (the most specific you get is by city), how they got there (ie referring sites) and, if they got there via a search engine, what their search terms were.

I find it childishly exciting to see that I’ve had readers from cities I’ve never even heard of, it parts of the world like Japan, US, South America, the Middle East. Even if they never come back, it’s still quite exciting.

It’s also been interesting to learn what people who get to Winged Ink via search engines are looking for. I recently wrote a post on my work blog (Signposts: a blog about Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand) about some of the most amusing search terms people used to get to it. Some my particular favs were ‘4 jocks surfer fight’, ‘obscene signposts competing for love with another suitor’ and ‘hot women around foxton’. I think those searchers would have gone away empty-handed from Signposts.

People who get to Winged Ink via search engines mostly have much more sensible and understandable search terms, like ‘poetry’, ‘book awards novel’, ‘jaam’ and ‘putting together a poetry manuscript’. Some people are actually even looking for my blog: ‘winged ink’, ‘helen rickerby’.

I’ve noticed that a lot of people (North American students I think) seem to be looking for stuff to help with essays about poets I’ve written about, especially Anne Sexton and Anne Carson. For you, I plan to republish a piece I wrote about Anne Carson for the Poetry Society Newsletter. I'm, of course, quite sure you won't rip it off for your essay, and will rather use it as a jumping off point for your own thoughts.

However, there are a few oddish search terms that people have used to get to Winged Ink, which might amuse:

  • china special ink for decal paper omnipotent
  • digital printing on concrete
  • discipline corset fainting stories
  • essay on my favourite poem [how would I know what your favourite poem is?!]
  • quiz to see what i am going to be when im older.


Sean said...

I have had one person find my blog using a search term, according to Google Analytics.

Apparently they were looking for "how to recover a love bite".

I imagine they were disappointed.

the daily screenwriter said...

Still working on getting Google Analytics up and running myself. Have you figured out metatags? I'm planning to put some into my blog - when I figure out how, basically.

Helen Rickerby said...

Hiya Daily Screenwriter - I haven't added metatags to the blog, though have some on my Seraph Press website. They usually go in the html header, before the content starts.

I did try to include some sample metatags for you, but the comments form presumed I was trying to use html that is more complicated than what the form supports, so I'll email it to you instead.

the daily screenwriter said...


Tim Jones said...

My favourites among the search terms that have found my site over the past month:

* "new zealand secret internal combustion alternative"

* "book nz-build robot"

* "well done that man" origins

The most common class of search terms are those that begin "poems about" or "poems on". There are a lot of people searching for poems on specific topics.

Helen Rickerby said...

I do like them! Especially secret internal combustion alternative. What are you hiding from us!

Craig Cliff said...

I had a similar experience to yours, Helen, when I blogged about the controversy over the Willesden Short Story prize earlier this year (they didn't think any of the stories were up to it, so didn't award the prize).

At least then I actually addressed the issue - - I often feel bad when I see what people have searched and wind up at my blog hoping for answers.

The other day someone searched: "what will we call the year 2010-2019". I wish I knew.

Or when I'm plainly not what they're looking for: "i write a blog and i'm fifteen". Somehow I was the sixth best match google could come up with!

Helen Rickerby said...

Hi Craig, thanks for your comments. I very much enjoyed your story in JAAM 25. I've had a look at your blog, and will add it to my list. Good luck with the 1,000,000 words - I especially like your graphs!

Tim Jones said...

I do have a secret internal combustion alternative - I call it walking ...