Monday, May 1, 2017

PyCon Australia 2017, SEO and things that should be less work

So, I have an unexpected problem. I'm helping to run a major Australian conference, and we can't seem to get found by Google. This year.

Last year's conference is no problem. There are many, many links to that. But somehow, this years' site,, is just not cool enough. Maybe PageRank changed. Maybe Google and angry at Twitter and not regarding tweets as important contributors to page significance. Maybe they just haven't gotten round to adding each mention of @pyconau on twitter into their page rankings for our site. Who knows?

I got myself added to something called the "Google Search Console". Do you know how many links there were? Guess. My guess is that the real number is less than you will guess.

I'll wait.

There are eight links. On the whole internet. Tim Berners-Lee would be disappointed. Somehow, our new sharing based technologies have left simple "search" behind, doing away with hypertext linking between a vast network of connected documents, and replacing it with another concept entirely.

I have no idea how this will affect our conference. Perhaps we're leaving Google behind as a concept, and search is losing relevance compared to the significance of "going viral" and tapping into realtime mindshare. Perhaps it'll be our best year yet.

But I like to believe in something else. That all that hype is just "surface layer", and that old school linking to things still has a role to play. That the internet isn't a "feed" but an organism, and if we help to do the gardening, it will grow and flourish.

So, if you have a minute, please consider making a link, from your site, to ours.


Friday, January 6, 2017

Inexplicably earning 30c

I'm up late tonight. No particular reason, I just get a bit of insomnia sometimes. It seems best not to worry about it, but just to ride it out and do whatever seems to keep me calm. I wrote a few blog posts late last year, spurred by having looked at some of my blog view stats and looking at my adsense total earning. At that time, I had $14.68 of credit I could call in.

I wrote a couple of posts. For me they got a high number of views -- about 5600 and 5800 accordingly. I even got some "plus ones", and better yet, some comments. That led to feeling moderately positive about my efforts, and I liked it.

Interestingly, my available credit has since gone down to $14.23. I assume this is due to fluctuations in the AUD vs the USD rather than anything else, but I suppose it could be that credit earned a long time ago is expiring.

I had a look at the big bucks being pulled in via advertising. I earned 1c and 2c respectively for those posts. I'm a bit confused though. Google put my pageviews as 25 and 43 for those two posts when I look in AdSense, but I'm seeing numbers in the thousands when I look in the Blogger interface. I would assume that between 25 and 43 is possibly the number of real humans who took the time to read some decent chunk of the articles and got something from the experience. Frankly, it's nice to think I'm providing some kind of value to a few Real Humans somewhere or another, I'm not fussed about the numbers.

That's to say, I'm not emotionally invested in getting larger numbers. The curious part of me is seriously bugged about the inconsistency in the statistics, and the relationships between "Blogger Views", "AdSense Views", "Clicks", and earnings.

I'm wondering whether the Blogger View count is being deliberately stupid, so as to factor in the vas army of crawlers, bots, search engines and random traffic. However, that seems less likely when I consider that my articles do get high or low views in a way that I can see relates to my own impression of how interesting they are. Either my better posts are getting crawled in more places, or else they actually are people clicking on things. I suspect if I spent enough time reading through the internet I'd find some kind of explanation. But the point of this blog is to make the actual thinking process along the way more interesting and more shared, rather than to engage in a solo effort to game adwords. Maybe I'll go looking for more facts later.

--- quick update ---

Okay, based on a quick search, it seems likely Blogger is including every damn hit to the blog, whereas Adsense is doing a much better job of getting at actual human with web browsers looking at things (excepting those with JS turned off or with adblock which I suspect/hope is most of my readership anyway). I mostly think it's a shame that Blogger has such a misleading view count, if less-technical people are getting a false impression of how popular their blog actually is.

--- back to original post ---

The most interesting thing to me was the day I earned 30 cents. This is, by far and away, my best earning day in recent times. It didn't occur on a 'posting' day, or even in its vicinity. As best I can guess, a single random visitor chose that particular time to actually click an advertisement. For reasons which are good and proper around privacy, or perhaps just implementation cost, there's no feature in the system which actually lets me discover who it was. If it was you, and you remember clicking an adword advertisment on Wednesday 19th of October 2016 (Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time), leave a comment!

One thing that was interesting, is that click sent the value of my page views and impressions through the roof. On reflection, that stands to reason. Blogs with "clicky" users also have more potential energy stored in their views and impressions, also increasing their potential value.

I worry about whether this is about to commit a minor infraction against the terms of service, but hopefully if you've read this far you don't tell anyone. If you can go and deliberately click on one of the adwords, I'll be able to get some more data about the statistical relationships involved.

In the meantime, I'll rest happy that most of my readerbase is too smart to even notice internet based advertising, let alone click on it.

Subsequent thought ... I suspect I could choose ads better than an algorithm for my readers. If I could just wire the advertisement permanently to ThinkGeek, I would probably generate more clickthroughs. Back before I had adblocker installed and set to 'kill everything' mode, the ads I saw typically had little relationship with my actual interests. I learned more about the kind of companies choosing to use adwords than they ever managed to woo me...

Anyway, I'll sign off there. Good evening all!