Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Too Much Information

As some of you know, I utilize Blogger to host this site. Blogger is an online publishing service that was acquired by Google in 2003 and has since received several design improvements along with some valuable analytical tools. Having just published my 400th rambling, I decided to delve a little deeper into the statistical side of Blogger learn more about my audience. What I found frightened me.

I was initially delighted to learn that I had a much larger audience than I thought. Who would’ve thought that hundreds of people were taking the time to visit my site and expose themselves to my admittedly juvenile observations? I was given about twenty seconds for this to inflate my ego before I clicked on the “Audience” tab to retrieve more detailed information about my newly-discovered fan base. Let’s just say that if I had been hoping for a large swath of redirects from The New Yorker, I was to be sorely disappointed.

I was stunned to find that outside the United States, my largest audience resided in the Ukraine. The United Kingdom and Canada didn’t even make the top five, which was surprising since they were the only other countries on the list that were predominately English-speaking. While this was a minor setback, I simply convinced myself that my literary prowess was potent enough to transcend any language barrier and the inconvenience of having my work translated was quickly overshadowed by its merit. Perhaps, given the political unrest in the region, some of the populace found solace in my musings on American culture.

Any delusions of grandeur were quickly dispelled when I clicked on the first referring link with a .ru suffix and found myself on a Ukrainian porn site. It would appear that nudity also transcends all language barriers. Subsequent links revealed more of the same (albeit with varying degrees of artistic integrity) until I finally stumbled upon a Russian newsgroup with an inordinate number of Teen Wolf movie posters and an animated Panda promising the cheapest hotels in Kiev. In all cases, I was unable locate a link to my site.

Since geographically-based analytics was quickly becoming depressing, I decided to look at redirects from Google occurring only in the United States. While many of the top entries were to be expected (various incarnations and misspellings of the phrase “exceptional mediocrity” and “reach inc.”); I was chagrined to find that much of my traffic was generated when people searched for “hot pharma reps.” While I have no doubt that these individuals sought thought-provoking exposes on the influence of pharmaceutical sales tactics on patient care, they did not seem to linger very long on the page before heading back to Google. Perhaps they were simply fast readers.

The other area of interest was the Google image search links. Again “hot pharma reps” made an appearance along with “denise richards tattoo” and “nudist.” What was disconcerting was the number of times this image (from a previous post) was returned:

I could not see the exact queries that would repeatedly return a picture featuring a young woman and a donkey, so you can draw your own conclusions about people's search habits.

At the end of the day, I decided that ignorance is indeed bliss and I choose to believe that those who spend their time perusing my page are academics searching for succinct essays of mild amusement rather than those seeking inexpensive Ukrainian lodging or connoisseurs of random images. For this reason, I have decided that just seeing the raw numbers is plenty.

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