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Searching

In which someone admits that SEOs are entirely pointless


An intriguing claim appeared in The Guardian yesterday, buried in its corrections column. Insurance-comparing website GoCompare has stated that there is little connection between its Google positioning and its income. More specifically: dropping from the first page of Google results for a common search term did result in a big drop in traffic, but had no financial effect on the company.

GoCompare is an internet business. As far as I understand it, they rely entirely on their website for income. What they’re claiming is: when Google lowered their ranking, they lost a large amount of traffic – but that none of that traffic, apparently, was making them any money.*

There are entire companies based solely around the premise that they will push you up to the top of Google’s pages. I’ve known marketers spend huge amounts of time and effort on it, taking common search phrases and analyzing them with a fine-tooth comb, trying to find out why they’re below their competition. I’d expect GoCompare to have been doing exactly the same thing themselves, in fact. And they’ve found, apparently, that it was all for nothing – because when Google pulled the rug from under their efforts,** they say, it had no effect at all on their income. Maybe they’re a special case because (unlike smaller online companies) they do spend a lot on irritating minimal-budget TV adverts.*** Even so, it’s intriguing. If their claim is true, there’s probably hardly any point at all in any large organisations spending much effort on search-engine optimisation. Small companies who can’t afford TV adverts, or who produce specialist products – well, that probably doesn’t apply. It probably doesn’t apply to AdWords campaigns either. But general search results? “Overall sales figures were not affected”.

* They seem to be talking about general search results. If they were talking about paid-for adverts, then the drop in traffic would also mean a drop in outgoings; but as they’re not, the change in traffic shouldn’t have any effect on their running costs.

** The Guardian had previously speculated that Google did this deliberately – it was that article which prompted the correction.

*** which, at least, aren’t as annoying as those produced by their competitor Confused.com. I’m never going to go near confused.com, no less than barge-pole distance, because their adverts are that bad. “I’m so stupid I’m trying to get money from a piece of cardboard with a cartoon cash machine printed on it! I’m confused! Dot com!”

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Recent search requests

In which we wonder what people are searching for


More things, around the interwebs, that people have been looking for…

the deirdres are a rather good band from Derby – see here, and also here.
photo enlargement 99p – it does sound like a bit of a bargain rate. Unless, of course, you want to enlarge a photo of 99p, which is possible too.
unexplained black moods aren’t very nice, but if they’re that unexplained I’m not sure there’s very much you can do.
emo kids handcuffs – I have a lovely picture in my head, now, of emo kids handcuffed to street furniture in all their hang-outs – outside the art gallery in Exchange Square in Glasgow; outside the Corn Exchange* in Leeds, and so on. I wholeheartedly endorse this idea. Come on, people, together we can make it a reality.
triangle sidings are the London Underground sidings in South Kensington, in the basement of the Cromwell Road Sainsburys, where the air terminal used to be. More information, and photos, here.
chocolate coins left at doorstep – I don’t remember ever mentioning this, or anything of the sort. But if anyone does want to leave some chocolate coins on my doorstep, then, please, feel free to!
cara page journalist. Cara Page was, the last I heard, writing for the Daily Record. She’s infamous – at least in certain circles – for writing “exposés” about the sex lives of fairly boring and ordinary people, such as a charity shop worker from Peebles. None of it is “newsworthy” in any conventional sense of the word, but tabloid editors still strongly believe that a bit of Carry On-style tame muckiness sells papers. Sadly, that’s all I know about her. And that, I think, is probably enough search requests for now.

* Now there’s a name that’s always puzzled me a little. “Hello, my dear sir, I’d like to swap this corn, if you may. For … erm … some different corn?”

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Recent search hits

In which we wonder what people are looking for


where do military musicians train? – at military band camp, I assume
what is healthy porn? – porn in which all the actors use plenty of fresh vegetables?
devon sandstone looks like this
meaning of “to throw a sheep at” – personally, I thought it sounded rather straightforward
memories of 1930s Herne Bay – don’t ask me, I’m too young. And I’ve never even been to Herne Bay.
victorian gothic desktop themes – I’m sure I could knock up a St Pancras Station background wallpaper or two
registry office bow road – I was at a wedding civil partnership ceremony there a while back, and it’s a very nice building. The Suffragettes used it as a meeting hall, you know
suzie dent is she married? – I don’t know, but I wouldn’t save yourself for her if that’s what you’re thinking
scary wooing noise – I personally find that wooing can make very scary noises. Although you could try:
bdsm gag – right, that’s enough of that for today.

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Recent Search Requests

In which we know what you’re looking for


deglutation
wemyss bay station
why forests need to be saved – I don’t know, they just do
ravens where to see them in south east england – I’d suggest the Tower, personally
steps of doing long division
computer geekery definition
ball gagged police
why was war between bosnia and serbia – trust me, it’s a long story
gothic and depressive computer desktop backgrounds
goose to blame if i lose my balance
the bad things about solar collectors
splosh fetish

I think that’s enough of that

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Strange week

In which we know what you’re looking for – and what Big Dave is looking for too


Well, yes. It’s been a strange week, and it’s over now. Roll on the next week and the next weekend.

Big Dave was annoying me a lot this week. I was tempted to post a long list of all his annoying Tourette’s-style tics. They include:

  • Tuneless humming
  • Calling me “Susan”
  • Calling me “Captain”
  • Making robot noises whenever he moves his chair
  • Tuneful humming, of 80s TV themes
  • Singing “I want to break free” – with “free” replaced by “wind”

What makes it more annoying is: him breaking off to tell you how much work we both have, how it’s all urgent, how we need to get it done because of all the managers that are pressuring him about it. Especially when a lot of things he could have delegated to me a long time before, but only has at the last minute. Especially when he then goes straight back to the annoying tics.

Worrying recent search requests:

  • back to abusive ex
  • nsfw
  • inbreeding erotica
  • see you soon! flirting
  • when do clocks change goole
  • you have been watching hi de hi
  • biscuit crumbs health attitude
  • i hate grimsby

This is the internet. Warning: May Contain Nuts. Well, the last one makes sense, at least. Maybe this week coming will be better than the last.

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Painful

In which we recap on a few things


Not feeling very healthy at the moment; as I said on Monday, I have a nasty sore throat that just won’t go away. I know who I caught it off, too.

Small update: someone called martyn read this (from May), and possibly this, from April, and left a comment, about Christian SF writer Dilwyn Horvat. Which makes me think I should probably dig his books out some time, reread them, and review them properly. If I can find them, of course.

I still haven’t watched the Shimura Curves’ telly appearance from the other morning, incidentally. I had to leave for work before it came on, so taped it, but haven’t actually watched it yet.

One of the main sources of traffic to this site has always been people searching for the lyrics to the childrens’ hymn Autumn Days by Estelle White – you can find them here. The number of searches has jumped a lot in the past few weeks, though, to the point where new visitors were coming in looking for them every five or ten minutes the other day. It took me a while to realise that not only is it just coming into autumn, but all the schools have just started term again. If you’re a schoolteacher looking for the words, you really should go out and buy a hymnbook with it in, you know, such as Come And Praise or something similar. Copying the words off the internet just isn’t the Christian thing to do, honest.

More search requests, whilst we’re at it:
how to secure myself from harm in a forest – don’t go in it to start with! Haven’t you seen Blair Witch?
evan davies piercings
little box big box
covered in gunge
nostradamus prediction of gordon brown
gothic victorian desktop wallpaper
summary operation titan dilwyn horvat – see, I said I should review it
shimura curves pictures – there’s some fairly crap ones here
trafalgar square pervs

I think that’s enough of that for a while.

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Old standby

In which we still know what you’re looking for


As I haven’t done it for a while – stop sniggering at the back there – it’s time for Recent Search Requests.

neverwhere – look here, or possibly here.
have you tried turning it off and on again poster – if you give me ten minutes I’m sure I could knock one up
symptoms of hypoxia in dog – I’d imagine they’re fairly similar to the symptoms in humans – irritability, aggression, light-headedness, inability to concentrate, and eventually fainting.
movie shoot on millennium bridge – I took a photo, but beyond that I know nothing
public domain sailing ship images – sorry, none of those here.
british railways sign font – you’re probably after Gill Sans.
bagpiping sexual practise – I really have no idea. Does it involve horrible screechy noises, and men in skirts? Or is it related to teabagging? The mind boggles.
angel london underground strawberry beer – see, despite staying near The Angel recently, I still don’t know any pubs round there that sell it. Better do some fieldwork, I think.
Takin’ Over The Asylum was the classic BBC Scotland drama series starring Ken Stott and David Tennant, back before he was famous. It really was very good indeed, and I wish I could see it again some time.
naked norfolk girl – that’s definitely enough search requests for today, I think.

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Searching

In which we know what you’re looking for


It’s the end of the week, and it feels like it; I definitely haven’t been getting enough sleep in the past few days. In lieu of something that needs thought and consideration, here’s some search requests.

what food goes best with strawberry beer: the obvious answer that comes to mind is: MORE strawberry beer. It counts as a type of food, I’m sure, much as Guinness is legally a type of low-grade heating oil.*
girl group harmonies – why don’t you try the Shimura Curves!
land of green ginger is a street in Hull, linking Silver St and Manor St
snog work colleague christmas party – my advice is, “don’t”. It’s not as good an idea as you think at the time.** In fact, before you start drinking, take your best office friend aside and say “I know I fancy [Sam/Lisa/Dave/Amy/Fi] in [Sales/Accounts/Admin/Imports/Alien Abduction], but if you see me going anywhere near [her/him], tie my hands behind my back and lock me in the stationary cupboard for half an hour.”
help posing wedding group photos. Stand everyone together. Fiddle around with imposing-looking camera kit. Spend so long faffing that everyone gets bored, then get someone else to snap them quickly when they’re not paying attention. Trust me, it works.
Edinburgh University posh? Ooh, definitely. When I was there, I was one of the least posh people around.
this aye night fire and fleet and candlelight are lines from the Lyke Wake Dirge, which I’ve written about before. I only found recently, though, that it’s used quite a bit in Neil Gaiman‘s classic book Neverwhere which I read recently for the first time in years.***

Things I haven’t managed to write about this week: the band Montoya – who I have a whole roll of photos of that haven’t been scanned yet – the comic-book hero Scott Pilgrim, the sense of ennui and malaise hanging around the office,**** the effect of Too Many Footnotes, and Big Dave’s latest plan for self-improvement. But that’s enough for today, I think.

* the last bit might be a white lie there.

** if you think about it at all at the time, which is probably unlikely.

*** whilst sitting on a train

**** especially when I get my camera out.

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Bank holiday weekend

In wich we know what people were looking for


The great thing about a three-day weekend is that it means you can fit two days’ social events into the weekend, and still have a day over to relax and recover before getting back into the office. And, of course, to try and make sure you have plenty of blog posts in draft ready for the following week.

In the meantime, it’s been a while since we’ve had Search Request Round-Up. So, here are some of the better ones:

did nostradamus predict bird flu – no.
have you tried turning it off and on again – ohhh, yes. Many, many times.
takin over the asylum dvd – I have no idea if it’s been released or not, but it definitely should be, and I’d buy it if I found a copy.
not to be loose or hump shunted is a phrase you see painted on the sides of railway wagons. In essence, it means “careful – don’t bash it about”.
rachel whiteread cubes what will happen to the – I’d assume they’ll all be melted down, because they do look recyclable. Unless, of course, anyone has a spare derelict power station to re-erect it in.
has suzie dent got a boyfriend? – I really have no idea. Try asking Des Lynam.
how do you make chocolate cornflake cake? – I can’t remember the details, but essentially you just mix cornflakes and melted chocolate, and try to resist eating the mixture before it sets.
pasquale’s italian edinburgh – I don’t think we ever did work out if Pasquale’s chippy on Clerk St – the one all the students bought their deep-fried confectionary from in my day – is still there or not.
photograph of drunk people on glasgow underground – I know I, for one, have been drunk on the Glasgow Subway, so they can’t be in that short supply
local paper cleckheaton – I assume it’s covered by the Huddersfield Daily Examiner. Don’t believe everything you read in the papers, though.

And that’s enough of that for a bit.

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Short snippets

In which things are fragmentary


Blogging has been sporadic this week, because I haven’t been too well. I’m still not well, but I thought I’d make an effort. In case you’re wondering, it isn’t because of you. It’s lots of little things all building up together: stress at work from my boss, stress at work from the perpetual office redecoration, and the feeling of eternal loneliness you get when you’re spurned on multiple interweb dating sites* at once. I’ve tried not to tell you about that.

Similarly, this post is lots of little pieces. It’s because I’ve been reading Troubled Diva Xtra, which is to normal blogs what crack is to cocaine.

Seeing Dunfermline in the news has brought back memories, particularly of walking past Gordon Brown’s rather nice house. Pointless trivia: he’s a near neighbour of Iain Banks – I wonder if he voted Liberal.

Tonight, for the first time, I watched the DVD which came with the new Belle and Sebastian album. I think I vaguely remember someone putting out an appeal for people to dress up in 70s-style clothes and go to the DVD filming. The main thing I noticed about the audience:** they look just like 00s hipsters trying to dress in a 70s style – because that’s what they are, obviously – and nothing at all like actual 1970s people.***

More search hits: “the it crowd zx81″ and “the it crowd camel”. For reference, if you saw it and were wondering, the camel picture on the set of The IT Crowd is the mascot of Perl, the wonderful and spaghetti-like computer language, whose official documentation includes comments like “if you think this [basic feature] is weird, that’s because it is.” Must get this post finished before the next IT Crowd episode is on the telly.

A search hit too far: “suzie dent topless”. What sort of sick, twisted daytime telly fan are you?

Proper posts I promise I’ll write soon: Jan Mark and Zeno Was Here; a longer piece on the Dunfermline byelection; the return of Books I’ve Never Managed To Read; My Slightly Barking Holiday; a proper review of the B&S DVD; and I might even finish writing about ravens in mythology. Oh, and anyone who can find at least three of my online personal ads will get a Special Extra Bonus Prize which I haven’t thought up yet. In fact, suggestions for a Special Extra Bonus Prize are welcome too.

* Both vanilla and otherwise.

** apart from the woman in nice boots in the front row.

*** I have to admit, I’m going by photographs here.

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