Revising Leah

September 29, 2008

Google Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 7:29 pm
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A few weeks ago, I mentioned that my blog has attracted an unexpectedly large amount of traffic from Google. People searching for information about the Egyptian pharaohs would discover that one of my blog entries appeared near the top of Google’s search results — never mind that this isn’t a blog about history or Egypt, and never mind that the blog entry in question offers only the most basic information about three pharaohs.

So a few weeks ago, I took steps to try to bury my blog so that it no longer appears to highly ranked when someone uses Google to search for information that really has nothing to do with the mission of this blog. What I’ve done is tinker with the title of the entry and delete a couple of tags. At first, those changes didn’t seem to have any effect, but I think the strategy is starting to pay off. If I do a search for, say, “what were the pharaohs buried with” — a topic Leah just barely touches upon in her report but a search query that has drawn a lot of Google users to my blog, now my blog doesn’t appear until page four. I know my blog won’t disappear completely from Google’s search results — and I wouldn’t want it to, but if I can bury my Egypt-related blog posts far enough down so that they don’t appear in the set of top results, then that’s a victory.

Some would say that any publicity is good publicity, but to me it is almost an ethical issue. For any of my blog posts to rank so highly in a search engine’s results for Egypt content gives the impression, as false as it may be, that I have somehow fooled Googlers into visiting this blog. I’d rather see a 30-40% drop in the number of visitors to this blog and at least know that those folks who do visit are doing so for the “right” reasons.


September 9, 2008

Fending Off the Google Hordes

For some reason which completely baffles me, the posts that I write in this blog describing Leah’s Egypt report for her history class tend to rank high in Google’s search results whenever someone searches for information about ancient Egypt, especially the Egyptian pharaohs. For example, when you search for a phrase like “pharaohs when they died,” one of my early blog posts is the second item in Google’s search results (I even rank higher than Yahoo Answers or Wikipedia). I first noticed this a couple of months ago, and I mentioned it in a previous blog post. In the beginning, I found it amusing, but now I just find it annoying and perhaps even harmful to the mission of this blog. Everyday, Google directs at least two or three searchers to my blog. Traffic is a good thing, but this isn’t the right kind of traffic because the people who Google is sending to me aren’t interested in my blog and they certainly aren’t interested in my novel. At most, they probably spend only a minute or two at this site — long enough to realize that what I’ve written isn’t useful for them, and I’m afraid some of them leave thinking that I have somehow tricked them into visiting this site, which isn’t the case at all.

It’s a good thing I’m not partnered with Google Adsense. I suspect that if I were, then every commercial link on this blog would have something to do with Egypt.

So I’m going to take action to try to discourage people from looking for info about ancient Egypt via my blog. The first thing that I’m going to try is to rename the title, and tinker with the tags, of the specific blog entries that receive the most Google hits. The title of my blog posts always appear in the Google search results, so I’m thinking that if I insert a little message indicating that they shouldn’t click on the link, maybe that will help. If anyone reading this post has other suggestions for me, please leave them in the comments. We’ll see what happens, and I’ll keep you updated.

August 27, 2008

Have You Googled Your Characters Lately?

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 9:23 pm
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If you are writing a story and have characters with both first and last names, it can be very interesting to Google them and see what results you get. Try not just the standard Google search, but the Google Image Search too. I tried my two main characters, Leah Nells and David Parks.

“Leah Nells” turned up absolutely nothing — other than posts from this blog. :-) There is a “Leah Nell” (no -s) but no one, at least no one that Google knows about, shares the same name as my character. Leah Nells truly is alone.

“David Parks,” however, is a different story. Google found a lot of people with that name, including politicians, soldiers, singers, and a fellow with an IMDB credit.

I rather like the idea that Leah doesn’t share her name with anyone else, but David Parks does. It just seems to reinforce Leah’s isolation and David’s popularity.

June 16, 2008

The Influence of Egypt

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 10:19 am
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I’m fascinated by this blog’s stats. I like watching the daily roller coaster of tracked hits. Some days I get a lot of hits, other days nothing at all — and the roller coaster doesn’t necessarily conform to whether I have posted something new.

The most visited post in this blog — a post that even today still generates hits — is the early post titled “‘The Pharaohs of Egypt’ by Leah Nells”. The reason, as I just recently discovered, is that the post shows up highly ranked on Google. If you do a search for “why was food buried with pharaohs,” for example, my blog post is the second item on the list, which I think is bizarre.

It’s summer now, so kids are mostly out of school, but I wonder if, next fall, I might receive a spike in hits from kids doing research on Egypt. Although the material in the post is factually correct (as far as I know) it’s probably not the sort of thing that students would be looking for. Once they realize that this isn’t any sort of academic site, I imagine they return to Google’s search results to find another site.

But since the post does contain a complete — albeit brief — report on the Egyptian pharaohs, I suppose some visitors might be inclined to copy and paste it into their own assignments. If that did happen, I’m not sure what I would think. I suppose I would be more amused than anything. It is certainly an unintended consequence of this blog.

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