"There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot." - Aldo Leopold

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hunting for Hunting Answers I - Introduction

Being a technologically savvy individual, I use various analytic tools to get a bearing on how many people read my blog – I’m not sure analytics were designed for such small numbers, but still. These programs enable me to see who is reading what, how long they stay on the site, where they come from, their phone numbers and addresses should I disagree with a comment, etc. I can figure out if someone is coming to my page through an e-mail subscription or bookmark, from another website or through a keyword search. It’s groovy stuff.

It’s this last element, however, I want to approach today. Thanks to Google Analytics, I am able to compile which keywords directed a lost soul to my site via search engine. Often, the combination of keywords bowls a strike for the surfer. For instance, “Do Hogs Rut?” is a common search. Luckily for that person I have a post that articulates that quite well, I think. Hopefully the individual is happy and returns again for all of his or her rut queries or stays and reads other posts.

Then there's the person who rolls a gutterball when directed to The Wild Life. “How to Prepare for an Elephant Hunt?” pops up in the keyword manifest from time to time. That user is invariably directed to the post “The Last of the Elephant Hunters” which, besides being the most wonderful thing I’ve ever written, has zilch to do with elephants. I like to think that whoever was searching to learn about his upcoming elephant safari got so frustrated with my flippant article he stormed away from his computer to slap a butler.

And other times someone is directed to a post that kinda answers the inquiry or is within reach of doing so. The typical question is usually location-specific. Like “What was the biggest buck taken in Green Swamp WMA?” I’ve written about bucks and written about the Green Swamp, so they are directed to my page though I’ve never actually written about hunting deer in the Swamp. I am pleased they found my work and hopefully gleaned some knowledge from it. And it increases my notoriety and fortune. Yet as a know-it-all, I’m discouraged I don’t have a solid answer for said person. But, I can’t answer all of these questions and won’t pretend to try – not hunted everywhere, sadly. Now, I get e-mails all the time about particular places, and I help out or try to point people in the right direction, but I can only write about what I know, or think I know.

Which gets us, finally, to my purpose. In these lists of search words are many, many questions about general hunting concepts I’m more than happy to address based on my experience. Like, how to field judge hogs? How to start duck hunting? What weather is best for deer movement? Using my analytic tools I am able to uncover ground I’m missing in my writing. I wouldn’t call it heroic that I want to help others, but it is close. Chivalry-ic, maybe?

I started this column thinking I would be able to bang out these three above topics in a couple pages. Then I realized how complicated the answers are and how limited my attention span is. So, I am going to break them up into several different posts and start a little series. To my knowledge, I am the pioneer of this concept; I will know if others copy!

One funny story – and I’ve learned it’s important to preface my writing with lines and words like “Just Kidding” “Ha!” and “One Funny Story” because there are a lot of knobs out there who are not regular readers and don’t realize a quarter of what I write is a joke - or an irresponsible lie - and probably scrambled off the computer the second they read I could get their phone numbers and addresses from Google Analytics.

Anyway, one funny story. As of this writing, there have been 11,552 different keyword combinations that people have punched into search engines that resulted in a click to my site. They are ranked from 1st to last of most used keywords. For example, “espn wildlife camera” ranks number 1. This doesn’t count the multiple other searches that use some word variation of this concept. (By the way, ESPN Outdoors no longer exists; neither do their game cameras, but please keep searching and coming to me.) Number 11,552 is “you tube wildlive.” Whatever the hell that is.

Coming in at #185 is “nance sucks at bowfishing.” I’m forced to wonder who has been Googling that often enough to put it in the top 1.6% of keywords. I feel friends and family may be snickering at me behind my back. Probably Mom. Or there is another unfortunate Nance fellow in the world who is as incompetent bowfishing as I am.

I may never unearth these answers. Of course, I’m glad I have the exclusive scoop.

Anyways, hope people find this helpful. If anyone has any questions and wants to save me some time scouring through 11,000 different possibilities seeking a new topic, please e-mail.

It’ll help me achieve my ultimate goal of Hunting Website Dominance.

Next post in the series – “Do Deer Move Better in Cold Weather?”


Unknown said...

Great post Ian. Had me laughing as I was reminded of some of the key search words that I have seen on my sight. Believe it or not, I get a ton of hits from Coon hunters because of one article that I wrote about a local coon hunter and old friend. Funny how it works sometimes!

Kirk Mantay said...

Great post. One thing I've done with those search results, for quandries similar to your "green swamp buck" issue, is to actually write such a post, and put a link to it on those other posts you have about green swamp. I had one goose hunting post that got tons of traffic from the terms "how do I hunt a goose pit?" and alas, they got no good answer. I wrote one up for them, and it got tons of pageviews. Another one related to "how to fish lake X", which directed them to a fishing report where I caught 3 bluegill all day!!! Not acceptable....

You get the idea. Sounds like you are making great use of the stats though!