Thursday, October 25, 2007

Google and My Blog

(Warning: if you have found this post through a Google search on “colonoscopies,” chances are this will not in any way provide you with the information you are seeking. Feel free to read it, though.)

Do you want to know which of my posts in 2007 has so far garnered the most traffic due to random Google searches? A brief, and by no means thorough, examination reveals that it seems to have been the one on my colonoscopy. I can’t decide if that’s extremely depressing, scary, or a good thing. It may be a good thing, because I still happen to think it was one of my better posts (maybe there’s something to be said for food deprivation and creativity), but it’s depressing, because I’m positive nobody stumbled upon it looking for a creative post on the subject, most especially since one person was looking for “pnemonia [sic] of the bowel.” I’d never heard of “pnemonia of the bowel” (which Spell-check is slapping me on the wrist for trying to misspell a second time when it already told me the first time was wrong). Don’t tell me there’s yet another hideous disease my inner hypochondriac is dying to race to Web MD to research. Anyway (stay focused, Inner Hypochondriac), I am sure these people coming to my blog through such searches were all desperately seeking solace, after having been informed this procedure was necessary, and that they spent half a second with me before becoming extremely pissed that someone could joke at a time like this.

And it’s scary to think that maybe people aren’t looking for solace before a procedure. Maybe there are just tons of hypochondriacs out there looking for information to confirm their “sure-I’m-going-to-die-tomorrow” diagnoses. Their stomachs hurt, which leads them to look up stomach pain online, which leads them to cancer, which leads them to the best way to diagnose the cancer: colonoscopy. Then I pop up when they type in “colonoscopy” to find out what it entails (if I’d accidentally typed “entrails” here, I bet Spellcheck wouldn’t have been slapping me on the wrist. You, however, might have been shutting off your computer in disgust). You’ll understand why I find the notion of the world being full of hypochondriacs somewhat depressing when I tell you I recently came across a diary I was keeping in 1985 and found this in one of the entries, “My legs hurt all the time. I hope I don’t have leukemia.” I really don’t wish this kind of morbid imagination on anyone. 1985 was around the same time I’d gone to the library to research some paper for school and had, instead, found my kiss of death: a book all about symptoms and what they may mean (although I have to admit I’ve obviously forgotten half of what that book contained since then. Nowadays, I wouldn’t dream of thinking “leukemia” when my legs ache. Aching legs are merely early-onset arthritis that’s obviously going to be crippling me by the time I’m 65 if it’s already making an appearance).

Still, I really must harp on how depressing this “Google and My Blog” news is. I want people to discover my blog because they’ve, say, been told they have to read The Lady and the Panda, and they’ve typed it in, read my exquisite review of the book, and placed an Amazon order in less time than it takes for the anesthesiologist to knock out a patient for a colonoscopy. I want people to discover my blog because they hate to clothes shop and are looking for someone who will say, “No, you darling person, you’re not crazy, or at least, if you are, you’re not the only crazy person in this world.” I want people to come across my blog, because they’ve typed in “blogs that will make you laugh out loud,” and have discovered that somewhere (in Sri Lanka or something), someone has included me on a list of 100 blogs guaranteed to make you laugh out loud. I certainly don’t want people discovering my blog because they’re searching for medical advice.

I sort of have to wonder about these people, though. I mean, if you were going to research your upcoming medical procedure, I wouldn’t think you’d click on a search result entitled “Telecommuter Talk: Lies, Lies, All Lies (and Irritability).” I know, with the impossibility these days of getting in touch with doctors, it may seem as though they’ve done away with such old-fashioned things as offices and hospitals, but really, I’m sure the chances of finding a gastroenterologist who telecommutes and performs colonoscopies from home must be infinitesimally small. (I would hope the chances would be zero, but you never know. After all, up in Massachusetts, there were people performing cosmetic surgery in apartment basements not too long ago.) Then there’s the “Lies” business. If you’re getting ready to have a colonoscopy next week, I wouldn’t think you’d want to read anything that seems to suggest skewed results, or worse, a procedure that your doctor may have lied about, making it sound completely painless, when it’s really about as painless as a visit to a Medieval torture chamber (which it isn’t! I feel the need to say that for all the people who are obviously going to Google search their way to this second post of mine on the subject).

Then again, I am definitely a beggar who is choosing. After all, I average about 25 visits per day to my blog. I am certainly not someone who should be complaining about how one of those visitors happens to stumble upon me. I should be grateful for every hit I get. It could be the person looking for “hours of fasting before colonoscopy” was just dying to read about someone who is driven nuts by said fasting. Maybe he or she found a kindred soul. Maybe that person is now permanently one of the 25. (As I’ve been known to say many times, please allow me my fantasy.)


Rebecca H. said...

Oh, Emily, you do make me laugh! No, I think I'd rather not be known for the post on colonoscopies either. That's the advantage of only writing about books! Mostly I get people coming to my blog who do searches for books -- in fact, Eat, Pray, Love is the most popular book I've written about by far. I had no idea everybody is reading that book.

Anonymous said...

I find myself smiling at your 1985 moment. I once asked my mother if I would "permanently lose all intelligence" (whatever that is supposed to mean) when all I had was a fever.

BTW, one hypothesis for the excessive number of colonoscopy-related hits may be that netizens were googling for information about a procedure that a certain President was about to undergo! Do any of the search terms suggest that?

Anonymous said...

So I just spent five minutes laughing at your leukemia line - every time I stopped I looked at it again and started all over - we are so, so alike. Of course,this totally ruins one of my diary entries about how I thought I had cancer in my arm when I only pulled a muscle playing tennis. Anyway. Isn't it weird what is most searched? My bird dog posts seem to get hit the most, and those people are looking for advice on the best bird dog available and instead come to my blog, which reads something like "I love dogs. I really do."

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the colonoscopy post would get more hits than one on sex. I think there's a good chance it would.

Emily Barton said...

Dorr, oh yes, I do believe everyone is reading that book, or has just read it. My book group at work is about to read it. Meanwhile, posting only about books won't keep you safe. Just wait till the next time you read a book about colonoscopies.

Polaris, that's an interesting theory. Nothing seems to indicate it was specifically Presidentially related, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a catalyst for searches.

Court, I have absolutely no idea how you manage to work in a hospital and write and edit the material you do. I'd be knocking on doctors doors all day long with my latest diagnosis in hand.

Linser, in this country, yes.

Froshty said...

I'm always hoping that my blog will be on a list of the "100 blogs that make you laugh out loud." I suppose that if there were such a list published by the Michie family, I would make it.

I agree with Polaris about the search on colonoscopy, but I also think of Daddy's opinion that Americans are unnaturally obsessed with bodily functions and rectums and think that that's another reason there were so many hits on colonoscopy.

Emily Barton said...

Froshty, maybe I'll compile that list...