Lies, damned lies and statistics

Trainspotting. Gosh, how fascinating.

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. Might know what's going on with Radio 4

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.

Certainly muddy, but probably not a goat.

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’?

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About misplacedperson

Camping and snowboarding for a living. It may not be a career, but it's certainly a life.
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5 Responses to Lies, damned lies and statistics

  1. Of course, if you were to do a Google search on Mud, near-naked Ladies and Lycra you might be surprised to find It’s all Downhill to be in the no1 spot!

    Or, perhaps you wouldn’t?

    Personally, I’m still confused about all that Purple Cows on Skis stuff!

    All the best

    Keith

  2. Todd Pack says:

    I live in the States. I did a very short blog entry several months ago about the start of the minor league baseball season. One of the traditional snacks at baseball games is ice cream served in little plastic baseball helmets. (I don’t know why.) Ever since, I get 2 or 3 hits a week from people Googling “little plastic baseball helmets for ice cream.” I’ve thought about ordering some and selling them on the blog, but that’s a lot of work for 2 or 3 hits a week.

    • Depends how many of them these people want – one or two? Enough to supply a whole stadium all season? Pity WordPress stats doesn’t supply names and e-mail addresses!

  3. Somebody found me by Googling ‘bend over naughty boy’! I’m also getting quite a few referrals from porn sites. It’s slightly disturbing, whilst also making me increasingly curious. Perhaps I should up the risqué-ness of my subject matter a bit so as not to disappoint those sad creatures who probably already had their trousers round their ankles before being forced to read about the utter banality of life in Italy written by someone who is currently also sans sex life herself. Duh.

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