Working girls and wolfpeople: the bizarre/amazing searches Google directs to my blog
The most surprising and amusing part of writing my blog has to be looking at how it’s discovered. I don’t know how Google search algorithms work, and looking at what leads my way definitely doesn’t clarify anything, but I think I like it like that – how for all the searches that match the content of my blog, there’s a big chunk related to it only by a sprinkling of shared words, like star-crossed thoughts colliding vainly in the night. If you think about, there’s something pretty romantic about Google – matching up thoughts, desires, interests over the surface of an unfathomable deep – but sometimes …it’s a really bad matchmaker.
1) things that make sense (…and horses)
The boring but gratifying category of searches I actually want people to find me through – Ethiopian New Year, Addis Ababa stuff, International Women’s Day, the London Underground, etc. Unsurprisingly, searches for the last, particularly on maps and history, send the biggest chunk of traffic my way; Dire Dawa and bajajs (and Dire Dawa bajajs) also feature highly for some reason.
But the single phrase/notion that brings in browsers the most? That’s something I never would have guessed. Turns out there’s an insatiable demand for ‘black horse with white stripe’ and its endless misspelled, odd and overly-specific permutations: black horses with lightning strikes on them (harry potter: the horse years); horses with a stripe-you can only see their face; black horses morgan with white strip (who’s morgan?) etc etc.
Someone should start a website, there’s clearly an unfilled market niche here. Who would have thought that likening myself to a horse would be such a good idea?
2) the slightly alarming
The predictable flipside of writing about Addis Ababa nightlife: the searches for prostitutes (or ‘night girls’, or ‘working girls’ – how strangely coy). Though that someone would feel the need to search for ‘Bole prostitutes’ instead of just walking down any street in Bole any time after about 9pm is beyond me… And though after writing about prehensile penises (penii?), I anticipated a bit of phallus-related traffic, the phrase ‘penis tube’ didn’t come to mind. How intriguing. Also in this category: sexual tube map (erm, what would this entail?), sexual experience underground train, sophie’s world sex scene (…did I miss something when I read the book?), street hookers asia (…really, no idea how that wound up at my blog).
Within this category we also have the slightly-alarming but massive ego boost: the subcategory of searches for my name, and, more creepily, of my name with location/job/other specifics. Who am I kidding, I’m very flattered. Just please, no stalkers…
3) the google lucky dip
Herein the incredibly generic phrases that were directed to the blog god knows why. Of all the websites in the entire world that could cater to your interest in ‘coca-cola’, ‘front of car’, or ‘boys’ (‘boys’!) – is mine really up there?!
There’s also specific phrases which I kinda sorta wrote about… in a totally different context: live match logo of world cup 1994, or underground animals (unless they really were hoping to discover how the northern line looks like a penguin) …or not at all: protruding forehead in children, english country town shop, man running from the scene of a crime, er, minibus with kids next to them in Sheffield (?!)
4) the curious/bizarre/AMAZING
I get so much joy from the fairly large amount of phrases that fall into this category (which is pretty good compensation for my blog’s total irrelevance to most of them). Some favourites:
forged steel sophie moon – no idea what this could mean, but I love it.
sophie and the shadow woods where was the yellow gem hidden? I have spent years trying to think of a good musician name for myself. Sophie and the Shadow Woods …YES! Although it turns out this enigmatic, surreal phrase actually refers to a series of children’s books about a 10-year-old tomboy, so there could be issues around copyright/severely disappointing an army of tweenage girls…
велосипед – a lot more intriguing before Google Translate informed me it means ‘bicycle’
contribution of three wheeler bajaj transport in awassa – beyond its specifity, the fact it appears six times. Well, if you gotta know, you gotta know.
Wolfpeople – ?!
commercials without head underground London – maybe this should go under slightly alarming.
i need the symbol of premier england used on saxophone from the ancient days till date – no. words. (and weren’t saxophones invented, like, last century?!)
how common is indecent exposure on the underground – what is it with the london underground and sex?
guerilla helium balloons – my faith in humanity is totally restored.
Within this category we also have what can only be described as poetry: phrases of vast accidental beauty totally wasted on the philistine mind of Google. But not on me! Undeterred by the total lack of anything but nouns, I’ve made a Google Poem!
Amazing things of world
Sleep in london:
a bright town
a desolate street.
Sand of dire dawa
man walking at the river
addis ababa dusk:
rain street, grass mountains
Chasing style and rail door.
London decay painting:
coca cola neon
– Sophiemcgrath WordPress
Actually, I do get the odd sentence in amongst the nouns – assertions, or better yet, commands. I like pretending that some frustrated soul is hunched over their computer desparate to tell someone, somehow, that ‘London Underground is hell’, or to ‘get in line’, or to broadcast the world-changing revelation that ‘somalis chew chat’. Or, my favourite, cannot contain their passion for a certain city of peeling paint and rugged hills: ‘I love Dire Dawa’. I love that someone loved it so much they typed it into Google, and I LOVE IT TOO!!
5) “things in quotations marks”
OK, I KNOW that these are just a functional way of searching for an exact phrase, but, as this website proves hilariously, the quotation mark has an amazing power to make anything look verrry suspicious. I wonder if the person who typed ‘joy of riding “the circle line”’ is as annoyed as me that it’s no longer a circle. And as for “sophie mcgrath” – nothing like a bit of well-placed punctuation to make you question your own existence.
I can’t work out if these means my attempts at SEO are good or bad – my words attract people, but not necessarily for the right reasons. And if they are bad, do I want to get better? And miss out on a whole bizarre, baffling and hilarious world of searches? …Surely not.