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.Email this Post