Google Zombies

Friday, June 26, 2009

The good news: My blog saw a single-day record number of hits (1,594) yesterday. The bad news: The extra hits came from people looking for news about the sudden death of pop star Michael Jackson.

Specifically, they were using the search term, "Michael Jackson, RIP," for which this blog entry was, when the news broke, the third- or fourth- highest ranking Google search result. Yes. It was in trying to figure out why I was getting such gaudy site statistics that I learned that Michael Jackson -- that Michael Jackson -- had died.

Waves and waves of them came, despite the fact that even the following short summary indicated that what I wrote was clearly about someone else:

Michael Jackson, RIP. I learned today with sadness, that Michael Jackson -- also known as the Beer Hunter -- died of a heart attack at the age of 65 on ...
The closest blogging slang I have heard of for such an onslaught is "tourists." This would denote people who are coming by, but not for the usual reason the author writes, and who will, therefore, probably not return as regular readers.

But that term usually applies when some A-list blogger takes a passing fancy to some post one happened to write about something of momentary interest. The tourists do, in fact, want to visit your home on the web, but they do not, as it were, want to "live there" (How's that for a strange search result?).

Another term, similar in its non-applicability, is "Google juice."

In this case, though, it's more like my "visitors" weren't even really here.

Kinda reminds me of an army of zombies from a famous music video a while back by a kid whose name reminds me of a favorite British beer critic.

As if in keeping with the horror genre formula of having a false ending, yesterday wasn't the end of it. New commentary on the death of that Michael Jackson has pushed my eulogy to "the other" Michael Jackson down to about the third or fourth page of results, stemming that particular tide.

A second wave of Google zombies arrived this morning.

This time, they're looking for images of Michael Jackson. Well, at least according to Google, I have a few of those, too! As of now, I clock in at the first and fourth positions in Google's image search engine for "Michael Jackson, RIP."

The Internet is a really screwy place sometimes!

-- CAV


C. August said...

That's funny. I posted about MJ's death last night, with a quasi-humorous title, Michael Jackson: D-E-D, Dead.

After I read your post, I checked my web traffic and found a large number of hits from people searching with the phrase "michael jackson ded."

I guess I'm getting "tourists" who can't spell!

Michael Randall said...


I like to put a positive spin on this if I may.

When I am blogging, not too much of late, I intentionally use this "zombie" phenomenon to get people to The Aesthetic Capitalist.

Yes, for the most part you will get tourist you will never see again, but still one in twenty, one in hundred, will read your blog, and if something you say resonates with them, you made the world a slightly better place, and when a few of these see your brilliance and become regularly readers the world is made that much better.

I highly recommend using Google in such ways to build up your traffic!
It is too easy, not to do.

And do remember that just because your listing has nothing to do what they were searching for. They choose to click the link and some of the people out there are reading the Google description of your content and and finding it interesting enough to explore.


Gus Van Horn said...


Saw your post later this morning and liked it. I would agree that the pop icon we all enjoyed was already long gone...

But yes, it's a riot getting big hits from legions of the near-insensate.


After my other posts this week, I guess I can see how I may have seemed somewhat dispirited, but have no fear.

I fully agree that the strategy you outline for intellectual activism can work, and have endorsed something like it in the past.

"Note that I have left many areas unexplored here, such as the value of having rational commentary 'out there', just waiting to be Googled long after the initial media frenzy has died down, or the concept of 'premise checking' which we Objectivists offer above the mere (concrete) 'fact checking' you hear touted as the great virtue of blogging."

I just think that in this case, the odds of getting through to anyone are probably a lot slimmer than normal, and laughably so. (And such happening would be the funniest possible outcome, and benevolently so!)



C. L. said...

On the other hand, your blog isn't one of the top results for "Michael Jackson brains". So most of your new visitors aren't actual zombies.

Gus Van Horn said...

Heh! Normally, that is indeed the case!