Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Fun with Web Site Search Terms

Author web sites, of course, are all about marketing oneself and one’s books. I’ll be talking much more about marketing in later posts, but since it’s become a tradition for the big search engines to release lists of their most popular searches at year end, I thought a post about the top 10 search terms used in 2005 to find my web site would be in order.

But first, let’s take a look at the 2005 lists provided by the big guys:

If you were building a consensus list, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton would definitely be on it, but because the search engines have used different rules for creating their individual lists, it’s a little hard to make an apples to apples comparison. The outlier seems to be AOL, which would have us believe people searched for generic terms like “lottery”, “horoscopes” and “tattoos” more often than celebrities or Hurricane Katrina.

Although Lycos is the little guy in the group, I’m inclined to go with it as a good approximation for the consensus. Maybe that’s because they seemed to have categorized, sliced, diced and otherwise massaged their list less than the others.

Mark’s Site

So how do the terms people used to find my little ol’ site compare with those from the big search engines? Well, I would have loved to get even a small percentage of the traffic going in search of Paris Hilton (do those folks read books?), but apparently I’m catering to a different demographic:

  1. (The) Immortal Game
  2. Mark Coggins
  3. popular (desktop) wallpapers
  4. Coggins
  5. Richard Layman
  6. Vulture Capital
  7. tijuana hookers
  8. James Crumley
  9. still life photographs
  10. Empire Troubadour
At first glance the list seems to be a random grab bag of terms, with the exception of the four that clearly apply to me and my book titles (1, 2, 4, and 6). However, many more of the terms (3, 5, 8, 9 and 10) were a direct result of my attempt to bring more people to the site with (what I hope is) interesting content above and beyond what one typically sees on author sites. And, finally, one (7) was definitely not the result of my trying to drive traffic (I know these people don’t read books), but was instead a side-effect of posting an excerpt from The Immortal Game where the phrase was used in dialog.

The art of driving traffic through search engine optimization is a black one and I’m far from an expert, but let’s look at the list in more detail and see how these terms came to be the popular ones for locating my site.

As I said, numbers 1, 2, 4 and 6 seem obvious since they refer to my first book title (The Immortal Game), my second (Vulture Capital) and variants of my name. However, there is a bit more to it. I selected The Immortal Game as the title for my first book because it is also the name of a famous game in chess history that serves as an overarching metaphor for the action in the book. A lot of chess buffs continue to be interested in the game, so I’m certain a number of searches were done by people who knew nothing about the book per se. In fact, one such “buff”—two-time US chess champion Patrick Wolff—found the book as a result of its tie to chess and was kind enough to give me a blurb for the second edition.

Similarly, “vulture capital” is a popular pejorative term for “venture capital” and I’m likewise certain that many searches directed to my site for it were motivated by an interest in the topic in general.

Searchers who entered terms 3 and 9 came as a result of my including photographs on my site. Some of them are available as desktop wallpaper. Others are scene-setting images from my first two novels or unrelated landscape and still life photos.

Terms 5 and 8 are the names of authors who I have gotten to inscribe books to me. I’ve included scans of the book covers, the inscriptions and a brief background of the authors and my interest in them.

The last term, number 10, is the name of a high end turntable that I describe in the “August’s World” section of my site. August has a preference for stereo components manufactured and sold before 1980 and I thought it would be fun to provide more detail about the equipment he owns. Audiophiles who came looking for information on the Empire Troubadour hopefully agreed.

In sum, I’m pulling in folks with an interest in chess, venture capital, photography, book collecting and audio equipment. Whether all those interests are “fungible” to a direct interest in mysteries by yours truly is another question. If I had to guess, I would say that searches for chess and venture capital themes are the ones that most often translate into an interest in my books.

Top 10 Oddest Searches

This has already been a long post, but I can’t resist leaving you with my selection of the top 10 oddest searches that brought people to my site in 2005 (and, no, I’m not making these up):

  1. if a bird craps on your windshield, don’t ask her out again
  2. will a brown couch go with my maroon wall
  3. my left foot is getting dark brown areas on it
  4. how to make a falsie
  5. dumbest places to be asked to marry them
  6. short term memory in third graders
  7. removing the backseat of a ford thunderbird
  8. disadvantages of radar to man
  9. how to make a hubcap chandelier
  10. naked weather vanes


At 8:38 AM, Blogger Aldo said...

Very informative and funny. I guess I should try some your techniques for my site too. Very interested in CANDY. I have read your other too books and I am glad to see that Bleakhouse has taken you on to get your work out there. All the best.


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