Thursday, January 17, 2008

The vagaries of search engines

On looking at the report of traffic coming to my site, I realize that the ways of the search engine are such that people find my blog for the wrong reasons. I'm writing about writing, and academic writing in particular. And sometimes the ideas about writing rely on metaphors.
So I wrote about habits and addiction--though certainly we don't get addicted to writing in the same way that we get addicted to an opiate. And sometimes I just talk about aspects of the approach to writing which are relevant outside the realm of writing--such as the most often found page on my site--the little piece on acting confident which keeps getting found by people who do a search for "how to act confident" isn't really about how to act confident, so much as an exhortation to act confident.

Surprises also turn up; I mentioned a book by Betsey Lerner, and find that my blog with that mention comes up on the first page of responses to a google search for "betsey lerner". Which surprises me, because I thought google's search algorithm relied heavily on how many links pointed to a site, and I can't imagine that there are many (or any!) links pointing to this blog.

I guess we all know this: we try to search with a search engine, but we always end up wading through a fair amount of immaterial material. It's just odd to see it from the other end: "oh, they were looking for X; they sure didn't find it here!"

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