Tuesday, July 31, 2007

You are Who Google Says You Are

How do people stumble onto your web site?

I'm not asking "How do people find you?" With luck, we all have web sites that are easy to read, easy for search engines to find and scour. So if someone's looking for you and your business, you'll be somewhere in the appropriate search (not on top, necessarily, but somewhere in the results).

No, I mean, how do people come to find your web site generally, when their server isn't smoking and their hard drive isn't crashing?

Google and other search engines index everything about everything about your web site. Then they use secret squirrel techniques to figure out the "context" for what they've found. And they use in-bound links from other web sites to determine whether you're an authoritative source for any given material.

In a perfect world, the end-user will ask for something and the results will be the absolute three best resources on the Internet for that question. We're not quite there yet.

One of the most interesting things you can play with is your web site logs. Who comes visiting, what do they find, how long to they stay, etc.? Good, juicy stuff.

You also find some very unexpected and interesting gems. For example, one of my clients had Frank Abagnale (Catch Me If You Can) speak at their annual international conference. For years their web log was filled with links from search engines that had served up their marketing materials when people searched for Frank Abagnale.

Now, in their business (a membership association), this didn't really do them much good. People rarely wander in off the street and say "Gosh, I should join this group and lobby for legislation related to peach fuzz removal."

But in other cases, the search results can be very revealing. For example, over on my Relax Focus Succeed® web site (www.RelaxFocusSucceed.com) I get all kinds of keyword searches. The most interesting and enduring is for an article entitled "The Unexamined Life is Not Worth Living." This article tells a bit about the Socrates and why he uttered those famous words.

Here's the really interesting part: People searched on that phrase, found that link, read that article, and subscribed to my free newsletter! How many? Well, that article has been on the web site for four years and it is one of the most popular pages on the site! When people do a keyword search and decide to visit the RFS site, ten percent of them are searching for that phrase.

Note to self: Never move or remove that article!

What else are people looking for when they wander on to this site?

- Fred Flintstone
- Good Stress
- Judging Others
- Meditation
- Ralph Cramden
- Relaxation Breathing
- Setting Priorties
- Spiritual Retreats
- Workaholism

and the list goes on.

Here's the very good news: These are almost all related to the core content of the site. That one article on the Fred Flintstone-Ralph Cramden School Of Success is probably a little off topic. People searching for these names are wandering in, but they're probably looking "yabba dabba do" or "to the moon" sound files.

Another example is the Great Little Book web site. Some of the keyword searches are directly related to topics you'd expect. Some are related to people. For example, someone searched for my name. Or the other popular names: Erick Simpson, Susanne Dansey, and Robin Robins. I suspect Vlad and Harry don't show up because they each got the first ten pages of search results for their own names.

Another interesting trend is that people came here looking for product references. These include
- AutoTask
- ConnectWise
- Exchange Defender
- Kaseya
- Microsoft
- Shockey Monkey
- Technology Marketing Toolkit
- Verizon
- Zenith

And of course these lead to two other categories:

[ Product 1 ] vs. [ Product 2 ]

and

[ Product ] sucks; [ Product ] complaint; [ Product ] bad; [ Product ] worst; etc.

And, finally, we have the truly bizarre. I would love to see this category for Vladville. For example, someone typed in gilligan island foil hat and found This Post. Yes, the article mentions Gilligan. And, yes, it mentions foil hat. But those are found inside two unrelated sentences within a rant.

And then there's the search for nut cracking equipment that takes you to the post on Cracking the HaaS Nut. My fertile mind has to wonder about the person who was looking for nut cracking equipment and followed that lead. "Wait. What's a HaaS nut? Where do they grow? How many pounds can I get per acre? Would anyone buy caramel coated HaaS nuts for Christmas?"

But wait.

How about this one. Schmoe searches for small booty and Google serves up . . . well you'll just have to go see.

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Is there a point here?

I'm not sure. But if you're not occasionally looking through your log files, you definitely should. You'll be entertained and amused. You'll also get an education on what people are looking for when they found you.

On the question of whether you are what Google thinks you are, the first step is to find out who Google thinks you are.

Enjoy.

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