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Search engines

A month or two ago I wrote a little script that starts saving HTTP_REFERER when people visit my site, looking for search strings from Google, Yahoo, and MSN. This is similar to one of the results Webalizer gives, but Webalizer seems to seriously undercount searches for my site. I wanted to get a semi-accurate idea of what people are searching for and how people are finding this site. The results are certainly interesting, to me anyways.

  • Google sends an order of magnitude more traffic to me than the other search engines. MSN is next in line, but MSN seems to be double- or triple-counted by my script. I don't know what the heck MSN is doing, but it registers multiple hits right in a row every time anyone clicks a link from MSN to my site.
  • So far as WHAT people are searching for, most people are searching for origami, which surprises me since it's not something I update very often here and I almost never post in my blog about it. The next most popular search is for conky. Then mostly problems with KDE and compiz/beryl; looks like lots of people have problems with those.
  • There are also some fairly nasty things showing up in my logs. I won't post them because I don't want Google to spider those search terms and re-enforce the results. But yeah. Think about the internet, and use your imagination. (And keep your imagination to yourself. Google reads my comments too, I'm sure.)
  • It's really amazing how quickly changes are spidered and integrated into the search engines. I'll post about something and just a day or two later people will start showing up here after having searched for it at Google.
  • In the olden days you generally had to submit your site to a search engine so that it would know your site exists, and then pray that it decided to spider you. I remember a years-long struggle to get one of my other sites to appear on Yahoo, starting back around 1999-2000. Nowadays it seems like search engines are much more adept at "finding" your site, and perhaps much less picky? I have never taken even the slightest action to get my site to show up on Yahoo or MSN, but there it is; and this site is arguably of little or no interest to the vast majority of people in the world.
  • There are plenty of people searching for my first and last name, which is kind of scary in a way. Sometimes it's easy to forget that that the things you're writing on a web page are going to be visible to a large number of people all over the world, and probably are going to be cached for a very long time and associated with your name. However it's possible people are searching for other people with the same name as myself; there is a US judge with the same name as me for example (but my site is higher in the search results than things relating to him; that's probably a sad fact, actually).
October 29, 2006 @ 3:14 PM PST
Cateogory: Programming