The internet is boring. What people search for on the internet is far more interesting.

What is my job?

I look at what people type into search engines (which, admittedly sounds a bit rubbish.  A bit like one of those made up, useless jobs that a smug git with designer glasses and stripey shirt says he’s got whilst quaffing his frappaccino in Starbucks).  But my job is real and what’s great about it, what’s really fascinating is that it gives me daily insights into the raw consciousness of the British publics psyche.  Because what we search for on search engines doesn’t go through the internal scrutiny filter that most of our thoughts are subjected to before being released.

My job then, gives a direct route into how nations and individuals really think and feel.

Still not excited?  Imagine this then.  That in 2,000 years time, someone could look back on my data and see directly our true thought and feelings.  Imagine if search engines were around 2,000 years ago.  What would we see?  Searches for a bloke called jesus? the price of crucifixes skyrocketing? “Miraclebook.com”? “Slave porn”?

Still not excited?  Well I guess you’re reading the wrong blog, sorry.  Try looking at this one about kittens instead.

How the hell did I get this job?

I sometimes wonder.  I advise the world’s biggest media organisation.  Possibly the most famous ‘brand’ in the world (If not, then certainly one of the top ten) on what people want.

My background didn’t get me the job.  Eight years in the armed forces doesn’t look great on your CV when you’re being interviewed by guardian reading liberals who certainly don’t view the ability to shoot a man dead from 300 metres as an asset – or even an interesting discussion point.  I had no computer experience and viewed the web with a bit of disdain (I still do really) fuelled by the fact that anyone caught in a ‘cyber cafe’ from our unit was subjected to those who spotted him banging on the windows and shouting ‘geek!’ loudly (I sometimes wonder what would happen if the spotted me now in swish London offices sat with 20 or so other ‘geeks’). And let’s face it, the fact that everyone’s a publisher on the web greatly devalues the content on there.  The screen is king and there ain’t no way the young web upstart is going to budge it.  Well, I hope not anyway.  The web is like the cheap Thai masseur that grabs your attention from the inside of a chintzy brothel.  Instantly appealing yet not someone you’d want to take home to meet your mother whilst you flicked through holiday snaps on the slide projector at the dinner table – (wait mum! you haven’t seen the last slide, she’s actually a he!).

So I don’t really ‘enjoy’ the web but I do like what my job enables me to do and the insights it gives me into people’s needs, drives, hopes and fears.  I’ve always been passionate about finding out the unfiltered truth behind people which is why I enjoyed the armed forces as everyone was so honest – almost too honest (ehhh! I’ve just had a great poo).  What got me the job was, essentially, this passion to find out what people want, having an instinct for how they search the web backed up by being able to learn about data and search engines quickly.  How I got to the point that people would actually pay me for this – actually listening to what I had to say was a complete accident and is another story altogether but by it was an accident, I don’t mean to say that I’m somehow just drifting along being fortunate, or that the people listening to me shouldn’t.  I’m good at what I do, I just find it easy and am always a little perplexed that people need people like me to explain these things to them (and more so that I’m paid for doing it – it just doesn’t seem like a proper job).

Putting it into practice

In my present company, the customer has hardly ever, and then only begrudgingly, been right.  My organisation creates content news, television, live broadcasts and other content that is borne of the producers imagination and (sometimes) astounds, intrigues and delights passive audiences who historically have very little control over what they see.  The problem is that when it comes to doing stuff on the internet, they’re playing with a whole new audience who won’t have things pushed onto them.  They want what they want when they want it and only accept recommendations from friends.

So what my organisation has done through traditional media channels in the past simply doesn’t work on the web.  My job then is to listen to what the public want through analysing what people search for in search engines (the easy bit) and then turn this data into knowledge that can persuade producers, editors and commissioners to make content on the web that people actually want (the hard bit).  Think of me like that annoying, do-gooder conscience voice inside their heads.  If I can change the culture in this organisation then the pay offs are huge, much bigger than anything I’ve worked on previously.  I recently figured that by creating just six new pages on just one of our websites we could increase our monthly audience by 400,000.

But this blog isn’t to tell you about the (let’s face it, uninteresting) day to day working of an office job analysing data and associated internal politics but to share with you some of the interesting insights I find along the way.  Ironically, for someone who believes that most content on the web should have a proven number of people searching for it before it’s made, I’ve done no research into this at all for this blog!  I’m doing what my producers do, making it for myself based on what I like, but then again it’s just a hobby so I’ll let myself off.  Thanks for reading. Oh and buy Viagra, enlarge your penis, increase your manhood.

One thought on “The internet is boring. What people search for on the internet is far more interesting.

  1. Sounds like a great job you have there mate!

    I would like to know more about what tools you use, especially the free online ones and what you find works best for you.

    Also, your creating content for media and most bloggers are creating content for their site, how would they be able to utilise this information to increase traffic to their site and can they make their searching topic specific?

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