Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Tower Of Google

I got this Site Meter. It tells me how many people come to the blog each day. It tells me how long they stay. It tells me how many pages they view, and how long they view those pages. It’s a neat little gadget, and if I was a really savvy internet whiz, I’d figure some way to crunch all those numbers and squeeze some bucks out of it. Or, if I worked for the government, I’d figure out how to use the info to better surveil you.

Pretty much, all I use it for is to see how many people read the blog this week and to see where they’re from. Where they’re from in broad, general terms, mind you. It doesn’t tell me much beyond what city someone is from. And actually, not even that. It tells me what city their internet provider is from. But that’s usually pretty close to home, so I get a good idea of where most of the hits are coming from.

Like I said, it’s a neat gadget, and I like fiddling with it. One thing I really hate about it, though, is that if a visitor never clicks off the main page to any other pages in my blog, it records their visit length as 0:00. In other words, it doesn’t start counting the time of your visit until you look at something besides the main page. So, I never know if a 0:00 visit was someone who just opened and closed the page, or someone who sat and read all the way down to the bottom of the displayed blog, which right now goes all the way back to the first part of August. That part is frustrating.

The one thing I love about the Site Meter is that same Visit Length column. Especially when I open up the Recent Visits by Visit Details and see that of the twenty most recent visits, four or five people spent anywhere from ten to thirty minutes reading my blog. I gotta confess, that feels good. That makes it all worthwhile. That makes every Sunday morning with my wife standing over my shoulder stamping her foot and waiting for me to take her to brunch while I polish just one more sentence before clicking Publish New Entry worth the risk of enduring the Wrath of Khan over omelets and coffee. I do, of curse, smell the coffee before drinking it. Arsenic smells like garlic, right?

I tend to dwell on those Visit Details where someone spent so much time reading my blog. Like, I want to know, did they really spend all that time reading my blog, or did they just open the window and then get distracted and end up mowing the lawn or something. And I can tell by the Visitor Path whether they did or not. Like if they spent 32 minutes & 33 seconds at the blog (1,953 seconds) and they spent all 1,953 of them on one of the pictures they clicked on, then I pretty much know they got distracted and didn’t really read much. Maybe his wife was stamping her foot, too.

But if the Visitor Path shows that they spent 1224 seconds on one page and 535 on another and 194 on another and then exited to one of the links on the Honor Roll, then I know that they really did read my stuff.

And that makes it all worthwhile.

For example, of the last twenty visits, 6 people made it off the main page, and those six people spent a total of 75 minutes and 45 seconds reading the blog. That’s like 12 and a half minutes each. You know, I have subscriptions to pool industry magazines that I read in less than 12 and a half minutes each month.

In the last 40 visits, one visitor spent an hour and 14 minutes and 14 seconds and viewed 33 pages of my blog. Seeing things like that make what I do here worth every minute that I spend doing it.

So, where do all these people come from, anyway? What surprises me is that 76% of you don’t come from search engines. You got here through word of mouth or you’re a regular. And even of the 24% of you who got here from a search engine, the biggest chunk of you Googlers were Googling The Pool Guy, or The Pool Biz, or The Pool Guy Blog, or something like that. So, still, word of mouth.

Of the 20% of you who were looking for something else – most probably information about salt systems – the next most frequent search term was Lectronator. So, I’m glad I could help you there. After that, it’s Swimpure, then Intex, then Goldline, Aquarite, Zodiac, in that order. Then the search terms start being more specific to problems, like; Stone Coping Salt Damage, or Travertine Coping Salt, or Stray Current In Salt Pool. Then there’s my absolute favorite: Why Does My Salt Swimming Pool Shock Me When I Touch the Handrail? I think it’s neat that people ask Google questions in complete sentences, like it was some kind of Oracle or something.

The things that you folks are searching for has been the biggest indicator that what I’m doing here has value. I mean, when I see that there’s lots of folks looking for information about why their limestone or travertine coping and deck is dissolving under their feet, then I know I’m on the right track by shining a light on a pretty sleazy corner of our industry. Even still, when you go to any of the manufacturer’s websites, you won’t find a single word about the problems that people are encountering with salt systems. It’s left up to people like me to try to get the information out there. Because if you take a hard look at it, the pool industry has been horribly lax in self governing the problems with salt systems out of existence. Everybody’s afraid of stepping on the other guy’s toes. Afraid of making an enemy. To me, it’s sort of like holding the door for the bank robbers when they’re fleeing the scene because you want them to like you later.

But hey, I’m a Pessimist, right? And all of my rants are just a bunch of Hyperbole. Isn’t that what a lot of you say? And the Glass is really Half Full and Not Half Empty like I always say. Right? Sure, there’s some truth to what The Pool Guy says, but it’s really not as bad as all that. Right? I mean, these Salt Guys, they didn’t screw the Pool Owning Public on purpose. If Only They Had Known… Right?

Okay, fine. Then Get a Load of This:

“Straight Talk About Safe Swimming Pools

As a fund diligence expert of some existence I am constantly amazed at the misinformation and outright fraud perpetrated by inventors, manufacturers and cheat artists on fund owners. tidy fund water is an absolute requisite for any fund and promoting pseudo-smurder under the outfit of shelter or ecological concerns is no pretext for bad and potentially damaging information.”

That came off a Google Blog Alert for “Chlorine Generator”

You see, the term chlorine generator is buried further down in this gobble-de-goop of text, so that it pops up on a Google Blog Alert Search, thereby diluting the effectiveness of being able to set an Alert and keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s being said about Chlorine Generators, whether you’re a Hyperbolist like me, or a Consumer looking for the opinion of other’s before making a purchasing decision, or a Salt Pool Owner looking for help with any of the myriad problems that come along with owning one of these Albatrosses.

Oh? You think this is just more hyperbole?

Then Go Here to this Google Blog Search Results for Chlorine Generator:

Look at all of those pages and pages of bogus returns. Read the excerpted text:

“... generator briggs and stratton stand by generator gnerator spa king ozone generator baldor generators stepped-tone generator salt chlorine generator swimming pool list old wartsila generator sets d&d name generator military generator …”

“…Aqua Rite® Chlorine Generator - Cheap Pool Products chlorine generator,pool chlorine generator,electronic chlorine generator,swimming pool chlorinator,aquarite chlorine … Also check out the Aqua Logic ® … Click for Installation Manual. ...”

“…There it breathes a lot of knowledge on Haywards Aquarite Electronic Pool Chlorine Generator in the large resource. This is a homepage with synthetic link on raw exposure gas. If you next change from Haywards Aquarite Electronic Pool ...”

“... parts intex chlorinator intex chlorine intex chlorine generator intex chlorine generator and filter pump combo intex chlorine generator chlorinator intex chlorine generator information intex chlorine generator stltwaterpool system ...”

When you click on any of those blogs, you find that Google has locked them up for violations of the Terms of Service, as well they should. But the Search Engine is still affected. They still show up in the Search Results and dilute your effort to get at The Truth.

But then, that’s the whole point, isn’t it? This, ladies and gentlemen, is The Other Side of The Argument. They couldn’t dispute what people like me were saying, so they just started throwing crap on the walls, seeing what the Search Engines will let stick.

They’ve even found a way to get around the blogs being locked up for the violation of the Terms of Service. If you scroll to page 7 of those Blog Search Results, you’ll see this:

By: atlantis chlorine generator
Nice site. Thanks. Chlorine generator handbook. comments –

What they did there was to go out and find blogs with unrestricted Comments Sections and place a little “chlorine generator” flag. You see, that way the WordBots will still tag this entry as applicable to any searches for chlorine generators, even though is a guy’s blog, a guy who rails against many of the injustices of the world, one of which is that most advertising is spam.

It makes you wonder who pays for all that. Doesn’t it? I mean, the flow of all this garbage into the Blogosphere has to be coming from someone, or some group of someone’s, for some reason. There must be a buck in it somehow. It would be interesting to know whose buck it was in the beginning.

Could it have been yours? You know, from the bank robbery… I mean, from the purchase of your salt system.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that salt manufacturers are the only people scummy enough to have sunk this low as to flood the internet with false information to hide their misdeeds. This is probably just the Tip of the Iceberg. Which reminds me. I have to get another expression for that because soon enough people will respond by asking, “What’s an Iceberg?” But the Good News is that when all the Icebergs are Gone, the Glass won’t be Half Empty anymore. It will be Overfilled.

It sure would be nice, though, to know who’s destroying your ability to find The Truth and replacing Google with another Tower of Babble.

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