Google as Your Blog Audience

Unless (or even if) you are an A-list blogger or are conversing with others directly through your blog, your primary audience when you are blogging or posting in public forums, other than yourself, is Google — the people using Google search engine to find information.

It’s a good indicator for what real people’s information needs are. I would love it, for example, if people searching on how to develop educational software were to come across my blog, or on how embodied cognition applies to designing learning environments were to come across a wiki of mine, but there are just not many folks doing so as you might expect. That’s not a bad thing in itself, but sometimes it is good to target what people really want and need to know. Last year after I graduated I looked for a good free antivirus program, and was frustrated with all the conflicting and bad advice I saw. It seemed like people were asking for help on this everyday at Yahoo Answers, too. So I thought this blog would be a good place to make a recommendation, and also tell people about free antispyware tools, firewalls, and other programs as well. And sure enough, hundreds of people a day search for information on the ‘best free antivirus’, and many of them check out this site in the process. The same thing with getting a projector to work with Ubuntu Linux and a laptop (something I just posted about like 2 days ago), or setting up an Ubuntu server with a firewall for security, or how to mark spam as read in gmail. Now if you search for ‘ubuntu laptop projector’ for example or other terms related to those examples, it hits here as well.

Of course some searches hit here unintentionally just because I happened to mention something, like ‘example of discovery learning’ or ‘dalvik virtual machine’ (google’s new technology) or ‘sesame street toys lead recalls’. And sometimes Google hits for the wrong terms, like ‘multiple answer quiz question’ hits my article on test-wiseness, but not a search on ‘test-wiseness’ itself. Google also doesn’t appear to be such a big fan of wikispaces or pbwiki as it is of blogspot and wikipedia. Searching for “educational research journals” on Yahoo for example hits a wiki page of mine, but not Google. Google hits it if you search for something like ‘rss journals’.

The problem with targetting Google is that you don’t know what many people are searching for until after the fact. That is why a place like Yahoo Answers is nice to see what everyday folks’ information (and educational) needs are more directly.

Posted in community, technology

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