Twelve Mile Circle featured an article with the curious title Search for Search and Other Tales about two years ago. This effort examined a year’s worth of search queries that people entered into the website. To be clear as before, these weren’t random searches from Google or other sources, these were actual words or phrases typed individually into the little search bar on the top-right corner of the 12MC homepage. I was curious to see if conditions had changed in the intervening period. Because it was raining yesterday and because I was bored and didn’t have anything better to do, I reexamined the data for a five year period. I’m nothing if not obsessed.
Cornfield by Daniel_Bauer, on Flickr (cc)
I compiled the results and made them available in a shared spreadsheet. Feel free to see what hidden gems you can uncover in the 1000+ distinct search terms entered by readers, ranging from Time Zone (214 occurrences) to a plethora of single instances ending with Zipper. I did my best to combine entries that were variations on a theme, for example counting Exclave and Exclaves as the same item. I’m sure there were many typos in the list although don’t blame me, blame the people who typed them into the search box originally. I corrected some of the blatantly obvious ones although I didn’t go down the list line-by-line.
Mathematically, at a rough order of magnitude, it came out to about three queries per day. The Top-15 changed a bit using the longer time period, with "Search" bumping down to the second position:
- 214 Time Zone
- 196 Search
- 134 Exclave/s
- 107 Canada
- 105 Emanating
- 103 Cornfield
- 72 Recede
- 66 Tombolo/s
- 60 Cartography
- 49 County/ies
- 47 Iowa
- 32 Ferry/ies
- 32 Smallest
- 31 Capital/ol/s
- 31 Minnesota
Cornfield still surprised me. I couldn’t understand the fascination with cornfields, and I suspected it might have related to cornfield mazes? It didn’t represent a spike or surge either. The term popped-up regularly year-after-year from many different readers, places and sources. OK, I got it. Expect a 12MC article on cornfields.
I noticed a handful of entertaining and sometimes baffling entries as I combed through the data.
- Toilet. Several people apparently appreciated bathroom humor. I had an article for that: Lowest Public Restroom in North America.
- 12 Mile Radius Around Yateley: This was an example of a type of query I’ve called "oddly specific" in previous instances. For this query to be effective, not only would 12MC have needed an article on Yateley (a small town in Hampshire, England – map), it would have also needed to discussed a very specific radius around it, like the purpose of 12MC was literally about nothing but drawing twelve mile circles.
- Difference Between Lettuce and Lattice. Seriously?
An interesting Easter Egg appeared in the query log after I discussed this topic the last time: "Why is he obsessed with what people search?"
I’m afraid I don’t have an answer.
Topics for 12MC drop into my brain from many different places. Still, they don’t generally derive from dreams. I had that happen for the first time a few nights ago. I thought of an absolutely amazing article topic while I was dreaming, and in the dream I actually had the wherewithal to understand that I needed to write it down before I forgot. Half awake, I put pen to paper and went back to sleep.
It was about a map. Maps have become insanely popular on the Intertubes. I can write 12MC for years and gather a handful of faithful readers. Anyone with a collection of pretty maps will gain thousands of readers almost instantaneously. As I recall I was excited about the possibilities during my dream. My enthusiasm waned once I examined my note in the light of day. My brilliant idea? A map of places where people use chopsticks.
Maybe dreams aren’t the best source for article topics.