Fifteen Things I've Learned From Google,
or, What Did You Look For To Find This Site?
At the bottom of this site, you'll notice a little Sitemeter
icon. Sitemeter is a service that allows me to see how many visitors I've
had (around 3,000 since I added Sitemeter, sometime in the spring), and
it also gives me a smattering of other information about my visitors,
like what time zone they're in or how long they spend on the site (average
visit length is 1 minute, 18 seconds, which isn't bad). By far the most
fun statistic is the referral page, which tells me what webpage visitors
are referred here from. That means that I can often see what exactly it
was someone Googled that led them to my site. (And no, I have no way of
telling who's googling what, so if you're the person who found this site
by looking for feet porn, your secret is still safe!)
So here's what I've learned about how people get to my site.
1. A lot of people are in the market to buy a fez. This is, oddly enough,
probably the most common way people seem to stumble across my site (where,
in a column on how damned difficult it is to shop for my father, I suggested
that I might give up and just by him a fez; in fact, the column is entitled
Screw It. Buy The Fez.). Some people search specifically for Shriner
fezzes or Masonic
fezzes, but many are just turning to Google with the request to buy
a fez, and Google, in its inimitable and inscrutable way, is sending
them to me.
2. In fact, that column on weird gift ideas spawns all kinds of weird
search hits. For example, someone found my site via a search for, yes,
suit homemade. And another fashion-impaired surfer found me by looking
3. If you search for "feet
porn websites" on msn.com, your first suggestion will be Television
Without Pity. Suggestion number fourteen is my Past
Featured Websites page. Both these sites are actually listed for the
same reason: we both mention Six Feet Under and porn on a single
page. This is, no doubt, frustrating for the poor guy looking for actual
4. Speaking of searches likely to lead you to porn, I was shocked to
discover that my site - and specifically the Readers
Strike Back essay on bad movies - is the number one search result
if you look for "Olsen
twins tied up" on Yahoo. I really think it is better not to know
why someone was searching for that phrase in the first place.
5. The same week that I posted my latest cat pictures (and suggested
that no one but me would ever see them unless someone Googled "do
cats eat strawberries?") someone actually Googled cats
eating strawberries. She even e-mailed me about it. Her cat wanted
to eat strawberries and she wanted to be sure they weren't poisonous to
cats, Googled it, and found my pictures. Who would've guessed?
6. Those people who have cats and aren't concerned about strawberries
are still, as a rule, concerned. I get plenty of hits from people who're
looking for information on cat
neuroses, or the simple, but perhaps more urgent search for cat,
7. Animal searches don't stop there. Someone found my site by looking
for an image of sheep.
Personally, had I been the one searching, I would've gone with the picture
8. Quite a few folks are looking for pictures of or sites about Native
American auras, and are probably somewhat irritated when their search
turns up my page instead. Personally, I can't stand New Age-y appropriations
of Native American culture (and you probably don't want to get me started
on the many reasons why), so I think the irritation is at very least well-deserved;
if they spend a minute (and eighteen seconds) reading about sovereignty
or land rights, the irritation might even be productive.
9. My soccer paper, the
only academic paper I've posted here, gets a lot of random hits, for example:
flag colors and description, antifascist
FC Barcelona, Scottish
feuding Kennedy's info, Tamil
pitch pattern. A more existentially-minded searcher, meanwhile, simply
10. Evidently, bad music
continues to be popular, because on a fairly regular basis, people find
their way to my site by searching for Dschinghis
Khan. Some prefer a more roundabout method of arriving at the same
page, using ha
ha ha ha ha lyrics as their search term. Personally I'm really curious
what they were hoping to find.
11. I also find it fairly amusing that my essay on what I do instead
of writing the paper I should be writing, which is titled "I
draw the line at ex-treme dating," shows up in sixth place when you
search for ex-treme
dating.com. It's probably not quite what the searcher was looking
for, but they clicked on it anyway...
12. I'm not sure if the person looking for romantic
captions for pictures of water found what they needed, but I'm damn
sure my site really wasn't it.
13. For those people out there who come across the site because they
would like poison
ivy to die, I wish them the best of luck, and I hope the picture
of my arm oozing pus didn't scare them too badly.
14. Of course, some people find this site the plain ol' boring way: by
googling my name.
I found out last semester that one of my students, looking for our course's
online syllabus, found my site this way. This was near the end of the
semester, and he e-mailed me to tell me that he was impressed that, given
my clear and highly political views (which he now knew about thanks to
finding this site), he'd never felt as if I was pressuring anyone to think
in any particular way in class, but encouraged my students to find their
own points of view. I'm sure plenty of other students have found their
way here over the years, but he's the only one who ever mentioned it,
and it was really nice to hear that at least one student felt I was helping
my class figure out their own opinions rather than just giving them mine.
15. But some people find the site because they're googling "the
making of Thorn Birds," and I just gotta love 'em for