This post is not about Justin Bieber

But strategically placing the name of some of the most searched-for terms, phrases, names, or issues in headlines is one way for sites to drive traffic their way. And it’s not just headlines. Increasingly the internet’s most successful sites are tailoring content to fit search engine results. Via Andrew Sullivan, an NYT Magazine story about the trend:

There is, of course, nothing wrong with giving readers what they secretly want every once in a while. The problem arises when you start producing articles solely for the id of the search engines, because some clicks are more valuable than others.

Sullivan’s site, one of the most popular blogs online, has moved away from measuring traffic based on per-page impressions, a way of calculating readership that prizes the number of clicks the site receives. This is why so many websites annoyingly take articles or stories that could easily fit on one page and break them up into multiple pages or jump a blog post from one page to another. They’re click mongering and page-view whoring. I’ve always avoided jumping posts from the main page except in very rare cases, because a)it annoys me (golden rule and all that) and b)I’m not convinced people click through that much.

Of course it’s hard for a niche blog  like this one to run the risk of whoring itself to the searches dujour. But if I were to peg the topics of my posts to the top search queries that bring people to my blog, I’d pretty much be writing about divorce all the time. If you filter out the searches for variants of “averyfineline” itself, here are the top 10 search queries for my blog:

crabb family divorce
gerald crabb divorce
kelly nelon thompson divorce
joyce martin divorce
sonya isaacs divorce
jonathan pierce divorce
anthony burger divorce
jonathan pierce denise hildreth divorce
matt dibler affair
joe isaacs divorce

(guy penrod sabbatical rounds out the top 15, and just this year, kirk talley finally dropped to the top 20)

Seriously. Ya’ll have a thing with divorce! But it just confirms the age old whack-a-mole theory of human psychology: no matter hard you try to make something go away, it just turns up somewhere else, more resilient and powerful.

To be fair, I think this list says at least as much about the Sergeant Schultz “I know nothing - NOTHING!” style response that seizes most southern gospel news outfits when there’s scandal and crisis as it does about your average sg fan with an internet connection. This site has always been a place for above-average candor and reliably free-wheeling discussions, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that folks wind up here in search of answers about stuff very few people will talk publicly about in the industry - even though I don’t think I recall haven’t written much about most of the divorces on that list.

At any rate, many of my critics decry averyfineline as southern gospel for “tabloid” and say or suggest I’m foisting gossipy garbage on the dear saints who’d really rather prefer passages from Our Daily Bread. But the data suggest that things would be considerably tabloidier around here if at least some of those Daily Bread readers were running the show.

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  1. Snarfie wrote:

    “tabloidier” …

    now that’s funny!

  2. Randy wrote:

    “If it bleeds, it leads.” -A common saying among the media world. No matter how horrific the story, the top ones of interest will be the most gory and horrific. People thrive on bad news. It’s normally the juiciest. Whether true or not, averyfineline feeds the need. It doesn’t matter if it’s accurate. Sometimes, the inaccurate is much more worthwhile reading material to those who live to read it. Without gossip, this site would not exist. Agreed?

    Romans 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. … 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
    26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
    28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are ***gossips***, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

  3. Tom wrote:

    This is all too funny, or maybe sad. But it might not hurt to add a little caution to the interpretation of this data.

    I suspect that the majority of regular readers at this site come here via a bookmark or by typing the URL directly. So the data about what search terms lead people here who were looking for something else might not have all that much to say about the people who frequent this website regularly. The people who are doing such searches apparently are not familiar with this website; otherwise, most likely they would not accidentally stumble across it via a search engine. Maybe they end up becoming regular readers; maybe not. But you can’t tell from these raw data, so I don’t think this info really says all that much about the regular readers of this site. (Well, maybe a few of them are like that, but often they end up hating themselves for coming here. See #2 above.)

  4. KC wrote:

    Maybe when it comes to the culture part of the sites’ mission: “criticism and commentary on southern gospel music and culture,” divorce is just part of the culture.

  5. judi wrote:

    Search engines go quite deep into your copy, though. When I first started blogging, I used the term “orgy” to refer to a profusion of flowers blooming at our botanical garden. (I know, an orgy of orchids was not a good idea, but I used to be naive.) Anyway, for at least a year I got all kinds of random hits from people searching for “orgy stories.” It was a revelation to see how many folks seemed to have an interest in that topic. Shocking, actually. On another blog, I wrote about our church’s booth at an annual flea market locally called the Gypsy Caravan. That turns out to be something that people in the UK, Canada and Australia search for frequently..I think it’s some kind of vehicle. Lots of people are looking for them! And neither orgies nor vehicles are the focus of my blogs. Suffice it to say, I try to be more careful with word choices for my blog these days, but some of this is just unavoidable. (Now, Doug, let me know if you get hits from people looking for either of these.)

  6. art wrote:

    Doug’s posts don’t seem all that gossipy to me. The reader comments often steer in that direction though.

  7. promochick wrote:

    You forgot a lot of other divorces on there….just sayin’…
    When/where did it come out that Matt Dibler had an affair?

  8. katelyn wrote:

    I don’t know if people are necessarily searching these topics to be “nosey”..but because they hear things and then the only way to find out if it’s true is to head to the internet to do a search. There is not much truth in SG…not that a divorce should be “shouted from the rooftops”…but the fans feel like they know the artists. They feel connected to them. And they hear rumors and stories, and sometimes, maybe, they are just looking to find the truth. While I realize some may be looking for “gossip”..some just may not know for sure. You see your favorite group, and a family member then suddenly is no longer around, or a member leaves without so much as a hint, it or not, people are people, and they want to know. Maybe they don’t really need to know, but it won’t keep them from checking. To say that people are “hung up” on divorce may be accurate for some, but most people, even in SG circles, have divorce in their family/home/circle of friends. It’s not really that shocking. And maybe the if people in SG were just honest, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. We’re all humans..even SG singer/groups. And the fans are human as well, and fans feel like they have invested time (and money) supporting their group. When changes come (both personal and professional), as a fan, you just want honesty. And if you can’t get it “from the horses mouth”, you’re probably going to go looking for it elsewhere. And the Internet, I would think, would be the first place to start.

  9. Wade wrote:

    The divorce I wanna know about is the Hopper One. They had THE PERFECT GIMMICK…. 3 married couples!!

    What happened there???

  10. promochick wrote:

    Wade, which divorce? Mike and Denise? Gimmick?

  11. Gospel Has Been wrote:

    Promochick where have you been?

  12. Wade wrote:

    Yes Promo Chic the only one I know of in the Hopper Family that the general SGM peeps would know about.

    The Gimmick I thought of 3 married couples traveling and singing was perfect I thought.

  13. Bones wrote:

    Years ago people wanted this kind of info to remain secret.

  14. joann shevlin wrote:

    hey whats up i know you:))))

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