Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ga-ga on Google ... the whole can of worms

When you're promoting a website, a book, blog, business, or in fact anything, you'll generally get yourself a site monitor -- something like Statcounter -- which gives you a good data spread as well as the raw numbers. When a decent number of visitors have wafted through your pages you'll get data you can actually collate, and patterns start to emerge...

Where people are coming from ... where they saw a link to you (which tells you what else they read online) ... and what they're searching for, on Google.

And you would be amazed, amused, confounded, and sometimes mystified.

You'd think that people searching for Mel Keegan would search on, well, "mel + keegan" ... and 66.8% of visitors do. But I got a lot of visitors from other searches as well -- and this is why I really would have to think think twice before I recommended actually buying Adsense ads: you almost cannot second guess what the effective keywords will be, and they are bloody expensive. You can pay $3 per click, which is a great way to go broke, and get visitors who are really waaay of target and not about to reach for a credit card.

Take a look at these -- all of them real, genuine keyword searches that brought people to Mel Keegan onLine in the last six months or so:

free gay stories
gay kiosk
gay master
keagan is gay
ebook master
ebook gay blogger
blogspot gay books

...and at this point, I give up. We've been wondering, lately, about putting some investment cash into targeted keywords, and on the face of it, it sounds like a not-too-bad idea. Here's the challenge: to buy the right keywords, you have to know what people are searching on, and you know for sure the wider audience for gay fiction is NOT searching on "mel keegan," since the folks who know who MK is ... are already here.

So, what the hell are they searching on?

Well, a short segue at Wordtracker, using just their free service, shows that websearches on the topic "gay [whatever]" can get pretty freaky. The top searches (something like 10,000 per day, plus) are so pornificated, I would hestitate to divulge them here, because this blog is also read by readers who aren't vaguely interested in knowing who's sucking what, and which object is going to get introduced to which orifice. Let's leave the imagery as a rather nice looking young man with no clothes on, experimenting with various items resembling objects from the vegetable kingdom.

Now, this hot-blooded kind of search might get 10,000 potential visitors per day, but it ain't gonna do nuthin' for someone trying to sell books.

So you're hunting around for what people who actually read books ARE searching for. You're thinking, "gay books" ...? "Gay fiction" or "gay science fiction ...?"

Well, those searches are done, but less than 20 times per day, worldwide, at Ma Goog, believe it or not. Meanwhile, what most folks are actually searching on is "gay stories" and "gay romance." Some other stuff too, but these are the main ones.

But I have to admit, the number of visitors we get from searches on "gay master" leaves me blinking. What seems to be happening is that folks (usually from Europe -- Germany and Scandinavia, as a rule ... hi, guys, if you're reading this! Didn't know you were going to be famous, did you?!) go to Google, search on "gay master," and then "Mel Keegan: the master of gay thrillers" comes up and, thoroughly diverted from their original search, they're saying "Hey, Keegan's back!" And they drop everything and go look at a book website and/or blog.

Whhich is nifty. Cool. But all of this makes me wonder how to choose keywords for so-called targeted advertising ... because we're selling books to blokes who were cruising the web for some virtual bonking.

Following the same logic, could you sell books to guys who were looking for a good (gay) movie, or a (gay) pub? And if so ... ouch! ... what in the hell are the keywords you'd use to connect with them?!

Ah, the joys of internet advertising.

On a lighter note, hands up who's typed "goggle" instead of "google" as the address? You used to get a funny little site full of trivia and a few ads, and now your typo pulls up this:

...and I'm not even game to finish the logon and see what's going on.

Newsworthy as I sign off today: NOCTURNE has actually been uploaded to CreateSpace; now we begin the looooong process by which it will find its way onto in about four weeks' time. TWILIGHT will be following next week ... we'll keep you posted.

Ciao for now,

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