Stats of a different sort.

Over the years I've been fascinated by sites that give us a glimpse of what people are searching for on the web. Though ordinarily I tend to prefer most things Google, in this particular case Google Zeitgeist has become considerably less interesting than it's counterparts Yahoo! Buzz and Lycos Top 50 which seem, still, to enjoy observing the fact that what seems to arouse the curiosity of most searchers is very different from what I'd normally consider "information". Quite honestly, these sites have ceased to surprise, unless we find it surprising that Pamela Anderson, who played a starring role in the very first edition of the Boidem, is still, according to these sites, among the most popular search terms on the web.

As I've already noted, I usually use Google for my searches (and more), but I was very impressed with the new Live Search image search, this time giving it a test drive. It turns out that a search for "Pamela Anderson" in images brings up over 16,000 images when moderate safe search is on, and when it's off, over 35,000. But of course a statistic of that sort only makes one wonder: do people really search for images of Pamela Anderson in safe mode? Isn't that missing the point?

Pamela is still around and going strong, but at least one of the sites that long ago served me as a window into searcher behavior hasn't been so lucky. Six and a half years ago I referred to Then, four years later, I noted that it seemed to have disappeared. And today it seems to have arisen from the ashes, morphing itself into a site quite fitting to the main thrust of this column. It's now a daughter site to, a site that tries to cover all the bases in the realm of site statistics. About they tell us that:
Net Applications, Leaders in web based applications that measure monitor, analyze and market websites for small to medium sized Enterprise (SME) proudly announces the release of This online service provides search term analysis for your website, helps determine effective search terms relevant to your site, shows you the average and maximum cost per click data for your selected search terms and the number of average clicks they receive. analyzes this information to help you determine whether to optimize for a search term or to bid.
It may be that, rather than morphing into something different, the previous went out of business, and simply picked up an available URL. Either way, the change that has taken place is indicative of an overall change in the way we relate to the internet. Years ago, a small company thought it could provide a useful, or at least enjoyable, service to people who took an interest in learning what sort of searches people were making. Today, a very specifically niched company ("for small to medium sized Enterprise") tries to corner the market on a very specialized service in order to maximize the profit on a company's advertising budget. We've come a long way.

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