Thursday, August 28, 2008

Gay Books: a title designed for the Googlebot

On a whim, we were taking a quick look to see if the blog ranks on any of the Google searches just now -- and if so, how high, and if not, why not. This post is for all you bloggers who would kinda like casual visitors to find you, regardless of your main theme; and for indie publishers (of gay books, straight books, ebooks, ANY kind of books) who are using your blog (or trying to) as an extra "hook" to help potential readers find you; and for avid readers who bloody KNOW there's hosts of great GAY BOOK BLOGS out there, but you'll be damned if you can find them, because --

Well, here we are on The World According to Mel. This is a Gay Book Blog. Or a (Gay) Writing Blog. or Gay Publishing Blog. (Gay) Independent Writer's and Publisher's Book Blog. Whatever.

But if you go to Google Blogsearch (which is admittedly still in its Beta phase; give the guys a chance to fix it before having a monster tandtrum) and run a search with the parameters (!) GAY BOOKS, you will not find this blog in the top 100 search results. And it's not because there are so many gay book blogs that we can't get our noses in there ... those Top Ten SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages; don't you love acronyms?) contain abstract links to 10th level comments left on blogs that might, occasionally, have a tangential reference to a gay book.

Meanwhile, this blog is invisible. Hmmm. Time for some serious head scratching, and a little bit of analysis.

We worked day and night for quarter of an hour, and collated the results of our labors. Let's share data right here. You writers will benefit, you readers might actaully start finding things, and you publishers will thrive just a little bit more, from a bit of data sharing. (Being all three, I'm delighted with the data.)

Turns out (from what we saw in the results to maybe 20 different searches; results were absolutely consistent across the board), The Googlebot reads ... no, not tags. That's what we had thought, too. Nope, not page content (ditto). The bot reads mostly the individual Titles.

For example, if you run a Google blogsearch with this parameter: frilly knickers ... well, yesterday's post from MK turns up #1 on Page 1.

If you run a blog search on "Planet of the Apes" (!), this blog pops up on Page 3, out of something like 660,000 possible results, for the post "Postcards from the Planet of the Apes." We score high-ish because the keyword is in the title.

Meanwhile, (it gets curiouser) a blogsearch with the parameter "indie publishing" turned up my post "Brokeback Gymhunks" on page two, out of around 23,000 results ...

Ah, so. Patterns starting to emerge from the data.

It's not until there are comparatively few results to play with that Google starts to look at page content. Let's try that again. Like this:

A blog search on the parameter "gay ebooks" returns "only" 14,650 or so ... and on page one, the results are already straying into jewelery, clothing and so forth -- nothing to do with ebooks, really. So, on this search, which came up exceedingly lean, the bot HAS to look deeper, and "weeds" the real, genuine content references. The weeding process brings my post "Beware the ides of ... August, I guess" up to #4 on page one, probably because it contains the following line: "You could go to The Goog and search on "gay thrillers," or "gay ebooks," and Mel Keegan OnLine would pop up, as high as the first page in The Goog's search results page." AND it's inside the last ten days.

By contrast, the blogsearch on "gay books" turns up 90,600 results ... and the bot gets lazy. It reads Titles -- probably for sheer speed (which is understandable).

So here's the experiment. You've seen the title of this post. THIS should whang our blog into the Top 25 Gay Book Blogs (where it belongs!), and maybe once a week we'll do something like this, on an ongoing basis, which should keep us there.

So, for visitors finding The World According to Mel for the first time, on account of the Title -- welcome! Please riffle through the tags and archives, because there's a great deal about gay publishing, indie publshing, writing (gay and not) book covers and design (gay and not) ... and much more. This post with the curious title is the hook, which we hope the searchbot will swallow like a trout taking a juicy fly. We hope you enjoy the reading here, and that you'll bookmark us, or do the RSS thing, and return!

Cheers to all,


James said...

I would like to feature this site on and Do I have permission?

Thank you in advance,

James Hipps

Mel Keegan said...

Hello James,

I would love to participate. Go right ahead ... I've touched down on Best Gay Blogs several times, though I don't think I've managed to find my way to Gay Agenda before (that changed three minutes ago). I'd like to put both on my blog's link list -- in fact, this will be on my (ahem!) personal agenda for this afternoon.

best wishes,

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