Friday, May 13, 2005

Googling the Blog, Part 2

As I said last week in Googling the Blog, people are finding the reviews that I post on this blog through Google, for which I am grateful, but I can see that some of the visits are not satisfying. The seekers did not really find what they sought in my reviews. This is not really surprising, for we get false hits in our search results all the time. What I find interesting is viewing the process from the other end. I did not expect some of these visitors.

The reason I am able to see how people find this blog is that I subscribe to a free service from Site Meter. It does not give me any personal information about the visitors, but it does tell me their Internet provider, time zone, and referring URL. If I click on the referring URLs, I see the pages that they saw to get to the reviews. In some cases the pages are Google results lists. Here are some examples of the false hits.

A Google searcher in India was seeking the name of the business manager of the actor Nitin Chandra Ganatra who played Mr. Kholi in the movie Bride and Prejudice. I reviewed this movie and the posting was still on the main page of the blog when the search was conducted, as were four or five other items. I had used the word “business” in a review of Fair America and the word “manager” in a review of the baseball book I Was Right on Time. I had not posted information on the actor’s business manager.

Just two days ago someone sought information on the unabridged audio recording of Devil in the White City. I had reviewed Erik Larson’s presentation about the book in one entry. I had used the word “unabridged” in my review of The Laments by George Hagen. Again both reviews were on the main page of the blog at the time.

Yesterday someone submitted the search “looking for old movie with baboons and plane wreck” to Google. The March archive page of ricklibrarian was result #2 of 667 for this search. “Looking” was in several postings, “old movie” was in the Muppet Treasure Island review, I had posted a photo of baboons at the Brookfield Zoo, and the review of Curtis and Loretta CDs mentioned the song “Deportee: Plane Wreck at Los Gatos.” I am sure my blog did not answer the person’s question.

A searcher in Spain combined the words “Grove” and “Muppet” in a search that resulted in her finding the Muppet Treasure Island review. I suspect that she meant Grover, the Sesame Street Muppet, who was not in this movie. The word “Grove” had been in my profile, not the review.

A third searcher came to the Muppet Treasure Island review through the phrase “frogs in wheelchairs.” I had not used this phrase, but Dan Trabue had in mentioning the original Muppet movie in his comments to my review. I hope this helped the searcher.

One of my favorite examples of false hits came from a Google search for the words “revolutionary” and “librarian.” The first word is found in the posting for the book review of Revolutionary Mothers and the latter is in my profile. I am not often called “revolutionary”, though I might like to be, so this was probably a false hit.

While this is all entertaining, it also points out a Google shortcoming. Because all the indexing for the search engine is done by computers, no person selects which blog pages to index. Each of the postings on my blog has a separate page, which is the case with many other blogs, and if Google could index these pages and not index the main page or the monthly archive pages, which collect many postings, many of the false hits would be eliminated. I doubt the great minds at Google could actually do this without causing other problems. False hits may be a necessary side effect of the process.

To end on a more positive note, let me say that I am happy that many of the search engines are now indexing blog postings. Other than Google, visitors have found the reviews via MSN Search and a couple of European search engines. It is a pleasure seeing searchers find these reviews, and I hope they are as pleased reading them.

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