Glancing at the Numbers

I use Google Analytics to keep track of my site traffic. It’s fascinating to me to see who and what brings people here. For the sake of reference, I had about 2,100 pageviews from about 850 unique visitors in the last 30 days, the period analyzed in this data. My biggest month so far was a little over 1,000 visitors. From talking to other bloggers I know, I get the sense that this is pitifully small for a blog that makes money (never the plan for this one), decently large for a blog that you only expected to be read by friends, and maybe still even a bit on the small side for a blog maintained by someone who’s reasonably popular and interesting (e.g., one of the top Emily‘s on Google).

Google Analytics keeps a list of what your top-viewed pages are. These results generally don’t surprise me because they tend to correspond with incoming links from notable bloggers I already knew about. Today, though, I noticed something on the list that seemed unlikely to have garnered about 5% of my total pageviews from such a source: posts tagged as “Apparel.”

After poking around some more, I found out that about half of these visitors had found the site through Google Images, and about a quarter through, with the rest through regional Google Image sites from around the world (,,, and a bunch of others, plus one person from AOL somewhere in there). Curious, I then checked out what people had been looking for when they found my site. This is what they searched for:

  1. band geek apparel
  2. buy gabe pac man t-shirt [someone searching for Penny Arcade fan-made goods]
  3. geekstudies + dragonlance [someone apparently looking for something very specific on my site]
  4. geek apparel [a few people looking to shop, perhaps; half of them left immediately]
  5. band geek shirts [and starting here, every subsequent search term was by someone who left immediately]
  6. band geek t-shirt
  7. comic demon
  8. dragonlance shirt
  9. gamer apparel
  10. geeky apparel clothes
  11. girl geeks apparel
  12. girls, geek, apparel
  13. ladies geek apparel
  14. pac-man apparel
  15. retro gamer apparel
  16. retro video game shirts nerd geek dork
  17. role-playing apparel
  18. subculture band geek

I’m still not sure what to conclude from this. My initial inclination was to think, “Aha! Interesting that so many people come here looking for gamer apparel rather than, say, programmer apparel!” Then I realized that I haven’t really written any posts about programmer apparel yet, and I probably only wrote one post about band geek apparel which tops the list. I knew to expect a self-selected sample when I glanced at the list, but it’s interesting to realize that I’m anonymously but purposefully selecting them, too, based on what I put out there for Google to find.

I still want to find it interesting that of all the geek-oriented things people could be searching for that bring them to this site, apparel is such a major one. I currently have 9 posts tagged “Apparel”; by comparison, I have 29 posts tagged “Comics” (and even more tagged “Games” that I don’t feel like counting right now). Of course, I don’t have images on the posts about games, so those wouldn’t come up on Google Image Search. And, probably more importantly, there are relatively few major sites about “geek apparel” compared to major sites about “gamer geeks,” so it’s possible that people find their way here when searching about the former because they don’t have to wade as deeply as when they search about the latter.

Looking at my overall statistics on what keywords send people here, the results seem mostly a mixture of variations on geek apparel/clothing/style, variations on the coordinates and other search terms clearly related to the xkcd meetup, and a handful of others (including some searches for Bioshock-related things—I’m shocked that I come up in the first page of results for the search “bioshock plot explanation”—and at least one hit for someone looking for “nerdcore porn”).

Again, this isn’t exactly an accurate measurement of what geek-related things people are searching for net-wide, but for what it’s worth, this site currently shows up on the third page of results when you google “geek research,” but the fourth page when you google “geek apparel.” I think it might have surprised people 10-15 years ago to hear that the former term might be more searched for than the latter.

The point of all this navel-gazing, I suppose, is an ongoing effort to figure out how site statistics might be useful in “ethnographic blogging.” It feels like an interesting puzzle so far.

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