Making sense of search data

http://open.academia.edu/RobertFarrow/Keywords

(If you have an academia.edu account and you’re trying to find this information, scroll down your profile page and click on ‘keywords’… took me a while to work that one out!)

It’s kind of interesting to look back over the history of Google searches that led to my academia.edu page.  It provides a history of activity, and a tool for reflection on my own developing ideas and different role. It’s a mixed bag, though.  On the one hand you get this…

Graphic showing search engine data which shows that someone is trying to find my PhD thesis

And on the other hand, you get this… (well, you do if you review books about pornography)

Search data shows someone looking for pornography and finding my book review

It’s also interesting to see the range of countries that searches come from:  people are finding this stuff from all over the place.  I still don’t really think in terms of writing for a global audience but I guess that’s the truth of it… though of course the fact that a search has led to a particular page doesn’t mean that it is relevant to the search engine query.

I wonder whether this kind of metric might be used to assess ‘impact’ in the future.  Certainly it would fit with the strategy proposed by the Bank of England for assessing the state of the economy through search engine information (in this case, Google Insights).

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