I May Not Know Who You Are But I Have Some Idea Why You’re Here

(Originally posted 2007-10-08.)

I don’t think you can see this information but I can see what are called “Referrer URLs” for hits on this blog. (The HTTP protocol defines a header that contains the URL you came from – when you clicked on a link.) Disregarding the several “Direct” hits – which tell me nothing – I see lots of referrer URLs with some information in them, such as:

  • Google, Yahoo etc searches.
  • Other blogs.
  • developerWorks routings.
  • Other referrers.

It’s nice to see the latter three categories – but it’s really the first that interests me. I can see, for example, search terms and sometimes the originating country or language. So it’s perhaps a little flattering to see “.fr”, “.in”, “.se” and “.it” in today’s sample. And, given I’m new to this whole “referrer” business, I’m looking at the search strings with interest…

One question I’m forced to ask is “did the visitor get what they came for?” For example, did whoever searched with “http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=%22Memory+Matters+in+2008%22&btnG=Google+Search&meta=” and then clicked on a link to my blog get what they came for? They certainly didn’t get the presentation as a PDF. They might not have liked what I wrote that caused Google to generate a hit. But they followed the link. And what am I to make of THAT? I simply can’t know.

But seeing what it was that people searched for that led them here tells me what the purpose of my blog is. πŸ™‚ “Wisdom of Crowds” springs to mind. This doesn’t mean I’m going to abandon writing about what I want to write about. But perhaps it gives me some clues as to what’s of interest and what isn’t. (What I don’t know is which entry caused the hit.)

This data is definitely interesting enough to make me want to write some analysis code to work out what the top search keys are each day. And I know a friend of mine publishes exactly that on her blog. (I think it’s a standard WordPress widget.)

The other thing, of course, is that I now know I have an audience. πŸ™‚ But to repeat…

I don’t know who you are. So don’t be afraid to visit. πŸ™‚

And to whoever was looking for Linda August and Joan Kelley I hope you’re glad you found me. πŸ™‚

Published by Martin Packer

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