Thursday 27 September 2007

The perils of googling yourself

Sitemeter’s a wonderful thing - but it’s also a tease. It sort-of tells you who’s been visiting your blog: you can find out whether they’re in Milton Keynes or the Midwest, and whether their service provider is AOL or Verizon. But it won’t tell you their name. And you can find out how they landed on your blog – for example, which words they entered in Google. But frustratingly, you can’t find out why they were searching - or whether they found what they were looking for when they reached your blog.

For me, as a relative newcomer to all of this, the visitors I want to know more about are those who google a name. Sometimes, you just know it’s the person themselves, desperate to find out what others are saying about them – especially writers and journalists who have just published something. OK, we’re all guilty of this from time to time. But some people do it repeatedly, obsessively.

For example, there’s a certain religious commentator whose name keeps cropping up in my Sitemeter details. As these searches are posted from all over the world, either he has a lot of fans (seems unlikely, as he's only moderately well-known), or he’s forever on the move and obsessively googling himself from wherever he happens to be.

The sad thing is, although this visitor returns regularly to my blog, the only thing to be found there is my rather dismissive review of this person's ‘Thought for the Day’ appearance. I tried googling his name myself, and discovered that my review was one of only two references to his name on the web (the other was a brief mention in a syndicated news report from 1993). Think how depressing that must be: you (or one of your admirers) keep googling your name, and all it throws up is a put-down from some petty secularist blogger.

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