Tuesday 31 January 2006

Accidental Blogger Effect: Reverse Engineered

BACK IN JANUARY of last year, I wrote a post about what I call the Accidental Blogger Effect. Essentially, this is the phenomenon of writing a blog post and it becoming a central albeit unintentional focus of your site.

I’ve had this happen more than once to me. Topics I wrote about just because they caught my fancy such as racing frogs, the death test, and Vincent D’Onofrio have sparked little communities within my blog where a year after the post the commentary and activity continues!

What’s more, these accidentals end up giving me unusually high rankings at Google for things completely unrelated to my primary interests. Whenever I would see this type of activity, I’d either follow my referrer logs over to Google, or go to Google and search on the topic to see how this effect was affecting my rankings.

But this morning, sitting in my hotel room in Manchester, U.K., about to travel over to Limoges, France, I experienced the effect by doing a Google search on dialup service in Limoges (it’s unclear if my hotel has broadband). Imagine my shock when I saw these results:

google search with surprising results - my site ranked third on a completely unrelated search

Oh. My. God. Have we bloggers become so pervasive that this will happen on a regular basis? How bizarre!

Got a great Accidental Blogger Effect story? Do leave it here. And in a few hours, I’ll be in France, clutching my phrase book and seeking connectivity . . .

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 23:25 | Comments (32)

Comments (32)

  1. Three years ago I wrote a post about radio stations I listened to that had been shut down and replaced with other, less interesting formats. In the first round of comments, which was mainly me and some friends, I mentioned a talk show—or rather, a pair of related talk shows resulting from one show being split up. Somehow, the connection between the Frosty, Heidi and Frank show and the Jamie and Danny/Jamie, Jack and Stench show has become the major topic of conversation on the post, which has almost twice as many comments as the next-most-commented post, and continues to collect comments three years later. The latest comment was left just two days ago.

    And neither show was in the original post!

    I’ve also had a couple of experiences where I’ve researched something on the web, couldn’t find anything, and posted a question about it… then three months later I researched it again, and the top results were for the question I’d posted three months earlier.

  2. I check search terms in my log files as a kind of light relief.

    One of the best I’ve ever seen was for my Team Random page, which is about four pages into search results for "dancing hamsters dressed as police officers". I couldn’t make that up, honestly.

    Other search terms that have led to a site of mine included "how to dress like guybrush" (arrr!! :)) and "screaming barbarians".

    Blogger’s month-long archive pages do some interesting things as well, since two terms from completely separate posts can combine. I’ll refrain from posting examples though 😉

  3. That’s really odd Molly! Great posting there…

    I can’t think of an occaision when this has happened to me yet….(but that’s hardly surprising with the 5/6 posts I’ve done so far!) By the way, the ‘Comments’ facility on my site is currently screwed-up…to the extent that I might have to cut the site off at the knees – scrap it and start it all over again! (groan)….The joys of playing about with a CMS I suppose! 😀

  4. I just wrote about this yesterday in fact. If you Google “202-226-9928” (a random number that showed up on my cell phone one day) you get three results, two being posts of mine. The odd thing about this is that the number has something to do with the U.S. House of Representatives and I’ve had visitors from gov’t. ISPs search for the number and arrive at my site. I have yet to find out what the number actually is!

  5. I’ve got one: Right now BrainFuel holds the #1 result for: 2006 Camaro. I’ve received thousands and thousands of visits to that one post. Fun stuff.

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  7. A few years ago, I used the word “scrotum” in a post, and the word “inflation” in a completely different post. In a few weeks, and after following a few Google searches for “scrotum inflation” which were brought to my attention from my server logs, I’m now painfully aware of a whole new sexual fetish subculture.

    I wouldn’t have believed it were true, had I not seen the pictures myself. God, how I hope they were photoshopped. 🙂

  8. Don’t you love it? In the nineties, I had a journal (cuz they weren’t called blogs then) and I mentioned something about Dr. Br0nners soap. It was some stupid aside, like it makes lousy shampoo or some such. Until I took the journal down, I think my stoopid entry came in higher than anyone actually selling Dr. Br0nners. I’d get a piece of mail a week, at least, about how the Dr. Br0nners with hemp oil sucked, or how they’d like to buy a vat of lavender DB, or whatever.

  9. In 2000 or 2001, I mentioned some Flash cartoon series that ended within a year. I still get search engine traffic from it, as well as comments and emails asking where they can be downloaded. I also turn up in some odd sex-related searches due to my liberal use of my favourite four-letter word.

  10. I’ve become the #2 Google Image position for the Merovingian, thanks to this article of mine which has a link and reference to it.

    I still see the term “Merovingian” in the top 10 Search Terms list every month, which means that an awful lot of people search for an image of him.

  11. My 2 favorites:

    1. After posting about Freakonomics’ author doing a speech about his book and quoting one bit about an experiment he mentioned in which monkeys were taught about currency and came up with prostitution, I ended up pretty surprised by the number of people searching for “monkey prostitution”.

    2. When my sectional sofa was delivered a few months ago, I posted about getting it and a picture of my dogs making themselves at home. That post was number 1 on Google for something like 6 weeks for “sectional sofa”. No geographic restrictions, just the product. Maybe Slumberland and HOM Furniture need to talk to my dogs for their SEO purposes.

  12. you come to manchester and don’t even send me an email?

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  14. I’m not sure if I have reached prime status on google search results but I have a number of posts that are extremely popular and are found via search engines.

    My favourite is the Picolax post where I briefly wrote about the experience of taking Picolax during one of the many investigations into the reasons why I was becoming anaemic. I had a little community going with people e-mailing me and leaving comments and questions over the strength of Picolax and some helpful suggestions from those who experienced it.

    My biggest draw to my site is Derek Acorah, apart from readers going at it hammer and tongs over whether he is a fake or not, I get a large number of people asking me to get in touch with him for them. I’ve even put a disclaimer on the post to no avail.

  15. Hey, I’m still top of the list in google if you search for ‘cooker parts in Edinburgh’. Which must be a bugger if you live in Edinburgh and you’re trying to buy parts for your cooker…

  16. This happened to me quite a few times regarding linux. I would write something about detecting an XP drive upon bootup, or getting my mp3 player detected.

    Then I would screw my computer up somehow and need to do it again. So I would do what I did in the first place, google something like “detect XP drive linux,” getting my site in the top results!

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  18. Very pertinent attention.

  19. Too bad some of us do this just to increase traffic and sometimes, search engines display the wrong conetent.

  20. Interesting to note, not only has Herb’s Reverse Engineered Trigger made page one of Google, but so has Laptopy’s “Very pertinent attention”, JackP’s “Cooker Parts in Edinburgh”, VJ’s “Dr. Br0nners” and Ben Buchanan’s “screaming barbarians” all for this one blog page. I wonder how many more page one’s it holds?

  21. I found a page two listing on google, for this page, for Erik’s “detect XP drive linux” and a cobination of J and Jackp’s entries, “sectional sofa edinburgh”, on page one of google for this page. Seems there’s lots of happy accidents!

  22. Can this not be seen as a really easy way to drive people to your site and ultimately spam the sytem?

    …or am I just thinking about this too much?

  23. thanks for your sharing

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