One of the more time-wasting aspects of writing a blog is obsessing over the daily stats page. WordPress conspires to bring out the inner trainspotter in its users by providing reams of fascinating data concerning how many people have looked at your painstakingly constructed page, though they remain schtum on the subject of whether visitors actually read your efforts or just surfed off in a huff having discovered that their search for ‘look at nacked ladies.com’ (sic) led them to a load of pre-Alzheimer drivel about life in the Alps rather than the much more exciting website I assume they were hoping for.
By far my most popular Google search term so far has been for ‘pot noodle’, which is a bit ironic considering the fact that I’d probably sooner eat andouilette – at least you know what’s in it, even if you’d rather not. ‘Rat’ is another popular term – just ‘rat’, not ‘getting rid of rats’ or ‘keeping rats as pets’ or even ‘rat behaviour’. Taken along with a slightly more bizarre search on ‘can voles make loud noises’, this clearly suggests that there is an untapped market out there for general information regarding rodents. Possibly a government information campaign is in order.
The BBC’s iPlayer continues to have problems, judging by the number of people Googling ‘Radio 4 unavailable’, ‘why no radio 4 in France’ and the like, though I can’t imagine anyone finding this helpful. You’d think that rather than waste their time trawling out-of-the-way corners of Google, they’d just e-mail the BBC, who would seem to be the people best placed to know what’s going on with their own iPlayer.
But the netizen is reluctant just to go for the most obvious source of information, possibly because in ruling out the possibility of stumbling on random blogs about life up a mountain this strategy makes life unacceptably humdrum. No, people prefer to wander the Googleworld, or more often just pose their question on a favourite internet forum regardless of whether or not anyone else on there is likely to have any clue what they’re talking about. Not that cluelessness has ever stopped anyone offering an opinion, mind, either on the web or off it.
Generally you can more or less imagine what the person making a particular search was after – ‘Marks Spencer in Grenoble’ is obviously an exiled Brit looking for underwear (presumably still looking as well, unless they’ve discovered M&S online, since there isn’t one in Grenoble) – but ‘David Cameron shipping forecast’ is a bit less obvious, and ‘green frog car casino’ is frankly surreal. ‘Miserable wage France’ I’d divert to Natives, assuming the searcher was actually looking for one rather than complaining about existing employment.
I did think about manipulating the search results by phrase-dropping in a bid to draw unwary Googlers into my empire, but the sheer randomness of some of the searches renders it impossible. How could I anticipate that someone might find me by searching on ‘goat covered in mud’?