Post 20: Will SEO homogenise English?

I had a conversation yesterday with a colleague and, as often happens these days, the topic turned to getting more traffic for web sites.

One of my colleague’s foremost requests was for me to stop using British English in my writing, and to stop applying it to stories we source from our content partners.

The reason? “Virtualization” is a mighty search keyword, requested by hordes of folks around the globe every day.

But “Virtualisation,” our genteel Australian alternative, is searched for several orders of magnitude less often. So it makes no commercial sense for us to make the small adjustment to our copy to spell the word with an “s” rather than a “z”.

Some would argue that changing the single letter was a futile act of pedantry in the first place. I argued against because I think that small elements like this can be an important marker of identity that is appreciated by readers, even if only because it shows you care enough to make some small adjustments.

Right now, however, the fact that commercial online publishing is driven by the need for good search engine optimization* outcomes seems to me to be a likely source of homogenisation of the English language.

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I find bland opposition to change stupidly antediluvian. But I think it is worth noting that the combination of commerce and technology are creating forces that work upon language in interesting ways.

* Yes, that is a deliberate and ironic reversion to “z” there, folks


Post 91: You only read when I am being nasty!

I’ve just had a look through the stats for the blog and it gets a lot more hits when I am dishing out on PR people.

All my big spikes come from angry rants.

There’s a strong trickle of would-be audio book thieves, a few people looking for Australian political debate and some people looking for information about the invention of electricity.

But they all do nothing for traffic compared to a good name and shame of a PR.

Which raises two issues:

  1. I generally try to be constructive, so making the blog all about anger is not my go
  2. The blog seems to be read and digested: several PRs seem to be taking up the suggestions I make on this blog

Where to from here?

Most of my posts are spur of the moment rants.

Anyone out there care enough to suggest what they would be interested in reading here?

Post 75: Geek-bait

I get so many hits (10% of all traffic) from my references to a torrent of William Gibson’s ‘Spook Country’ that I think it is time for an experiment.

I will involve a list of things any minute now that I think represent geek-bait.

Let’s see what that does to traffic!

  • Watchmen Movie torrent
  • Neal Stephenson torrent
  • Vernor Vinge torrent

Of course this means that even less of my readers will actually care about my ideas.

Which is not good.

But at least I’ll be learning more about this whole traffic/tagging caper which is one of the reasons I run this thing.


None of the above are working. Time to try:

  • Ratatouille torrent
  • Bourne ultimatum torrent
  • Stardust movie torrent

Post 69: Is this a surprising number of thieves?

Over the last 24 hours, another ten folks have landed on this blog searching for a bit torrent download of William Gibson’s new book, ‘Spook Country,’ released yesterday in the USA.

That’s about half my traffic.

(Which is sad, but I haven’t flamed any PR for a while and that usually perks things up)

This site comes up as Google’s No. 2 and No. 3 hits on various searches for the torrent. My Twitter post on the subject is No. 1.

That makes the various posts on the subject responsible for more than 30 hits overall.

So what’s up with this?

  • Is 30 a large number of people looking for an audiobook torrent?
  • Is it surprising there is no torrent yet (that I, or the people landing here, can find)?*
  • Why do people think a blog would host a torrent? It’s askingĀ  for trouble?

Anyway … watching this one play out will be mighty interesting as I learn more about the whole traffic caper …
* Not that I want to find one, just so you know.

Post 65: What is Facebook for?

Everyone I know on Facebook, I already knew before Facebook.

We had each others’ email addresses, but generally chose not to correspond.

Now we are all on Facebook, generally choosing not to correspond about things other than what Facebook is for.

That’s why I have created “AGFPWTTCNGSAAIATPOTFAHWTMGIPANVGWOTTGPPOCEA“, aka “A group for people who think that creating new groups solely as an ironic act to point out that Facebook already has way too many groups is probably not a very good way of tackling the group proliferation problem or creating elegant acronyms”

I have got no idea what it is for either, other than expressing the fact I have no idea what Facebook is for.

I think, however, that this post might come in handy.

Strange things are starting to show themselves in traffic analysis.

My post on John Howard vs. Kevin Rudd is attracting a random visitor or three each day, via Google. It’s a topical subject so in come the hits.

So to, the post on William Gibson’s new book is picking up traffic as people (sad to say) Google for Torrents of the audio version. That’s running at three or four a day.

I’m betting that ‘What is Facebook for?’ gets some traffic too.

(Unless someone starts a craze for googling ‘AGFPWTTCNGSAAIATPOTFAHWTMGIPANVGWOTTGPPOCEA’)

That’s not why I wrote this post, though.

I really have no idea what Facebook is for.


Overnight I’ve had five nine hits on the Gibson post, generated by five different search queries on ‘Spook Country’ and’Torrent’. In fact, I’m the number one and two Google result on this query! Oh the notoriety.

What this says about general naughtiness on the net is kind of terrifying!

Post 60: A new use for Twitter?

One of my gigs is editing, a network of five sites for IT pros on subjects like security and VoIP that interest them.

Like everyone else online, we are looking for traffic.

So today I fired up a new profile, The plan is to post a link to our new stories on Twitter and see what happens as Google registers the presence of incoming links from third parites. We’ll promote it via our newsletters etc too. And I’ll whack up an extra feed here, even though that may be a bit zeitgeist-bruising.

It’s a small step into social media but it took five minutes from having the idea to being operational, perhaps because there is no tag cloud or folksonomy to master or anything like that!

That means any ROI will be insane, especially as it will give us the RSS feed we have lacked in minutes while our developers work away on other things.

Post Forty: How to attract search engines

So far I think it is fair to say that this blog has not had a huge impact on the world.

Fair enough.

But strangely, if you search Google for “The Man Who Invented Electricity” this site comes up as the third-ranked page as they pick up Post Thirteen.

I’m getting a hit most days on that search term. Hence the title of this post – I wonder if it has the same effect or if the crowd of content on this subject makes it a dud.

Anyway … the fact I’m getting hits on that term has quickly led me to understand a couple of bloggers I know who have gotten into hit-hunting, partly by being a frequent poster elsewhere and partly by doing clever things with keywords.

I think I shall go down the latter route.

The other option is to be very controversial – the most hits this blog has had is on the post that names the naughty PR companies who are bad at email list management. But I’m not sure that’s for me.