From Barefoot Shopping to Having an Affair

February 12, 2013

What do barefoot shopping and having an affair in South Africa have in common?

Seeking advice on either of them will lead you to my blog.

You may not know this as a reader of blogs. But if you're also a writer of blogs, you will nod knowingly when I tell you that we can sometimes be a bit, uh, obsessive about our blog statistics.

You power on your computer in the morning and the first thing you check is how many page views you've had yesterday. You then go and check your emails and after answering a few of them you figure it might be time to start doing something productive. Like actually writing a blog post. Let alone the other fifteen things you should really be doing instead of writing a blog. But while you contemplate what's next, you quickly check your page views again. If somehow in the process you get roped over to Facebook, forget it. You will not accomplish anything else for the day.

There are great tools out there that can not only tell you the number of page views but pretty much everything about the readers of your blog. Which stories they liked reading the most this week. Which country they are from (or, perhaps, pretend they're from). Which operating system they are using. Whether they had pasta or salad for lunch. Their bra size.

Okay, so I got a bit carried away there. But you get my drift.

Normally, I just want to know the page views and that's that. I really don't care who you are, as long as you come visit. Unless of course you leave a nice comment and then I'll leave a nice comment back.

But sometimes it can be fun to dig a bit deeper into Google Analytics (or whatever tool you're using) for some pure enjoyment. And to find out interesting facts.

Like, did you know there is an operating system called Ubuntu? I had no idea. But apparently, 36 visitors of my blog, so far, have their devices running on it.

Also, either there'll soon be a huge influx of Ukrainians descending upon South Africa, or maybe they just love reading about expat life in Johannesburg for no reason perhaps because the weather there is better than at home (or because they are accused of just as much crime). In any case, tons of Ukrainians are reading my blog. They just made it into the top ten countries (South Africa, some time ago, surpassed the United States, followed by the UK, Germany, Canada, and Australia).

The true giggle, however, can be had when you delve a bit deeper and read the actual phrases people type into Google (or Bing, or whatever else it is, which you can also learn from your analytics software) to find you. Or, rather, not to find you specifically, but it is you they end up finding, through the mysteries of the Google algorithm.


It is a very diverse group of people, let me tell you. Whether they typed "barefoot shopping" or "american apple cake" or "have an affair south africa,", they all landed on my blog. As were "pay traffic fines south africa," "cheetah legs," and "kilimanjaro potty." The potty person spent 18 seconds on my blog. Whereas the one searching for "kilimanjaro toilets" stayed for 5 minutes and 29 seconds.

Some of them cannot be repeated in polite company, such as "joburg f#@* stories." That person hardly spent any time on my blog at all, I'm glad to report.

While we're on that track, the longest somebody who didn't already know my blog stayed and read on was one and a half hours, having looked for "how to do foreign eft." Whereas "xpat massage" held the record of shortest stay. Maybe I should start offering massages.

Predictably, people searching for 'joburg expat blog" end up staying forever, reading twenty-five pages and more, whereas the guy wondering "why do weavers destroy their nests" only stayed on for one. As did "african subways." I'm curious if he had any luck elsewhere. I can't think of an African city that actually has a subway.

The topics people are most interested in are "private schools in johannesburg," "buying a car in south africa," "opening a bank account," and "renewing license disk." And of course those vital questions about Amazon, Starbucks, Kindle, iPhone, and Netflix in South Africa. I'm glad I've become such a how-to resource and I hope people realize what a luxury it is to not only get advice but also some gratuitous humor in the bargain.

I also get the existential type questions, like "should i move to durban." I have no idea! But I'd love to tell you anyway. I'd also like to talk with all the people wondering about "joburg crime" and "how bad is south africa." I'd tell them how terrible it is indeed and to please stay away. Let's keep all those negative folks somewhere else (okay, in England, if you must know).

Some people don't seem to put very much thought in their queries. Like the person typing "does africa have a post office" (no, the mail in africa gets hand-carried by messengers on elephants), or the one simply writing "bird." I'm quite honored that such a vague term would have ended up with me but wonder once again what the hell Google is thinking.

But I"m not complaining. Google is often my friend when I'm in a tight spot. Today I wanted to make chili for dinner, and needed my recipe. The print version of that is still stuck with U.S. Customs and Border Control in Charleston. Not that they confiscated the chili recipe (at least I hope not), but that is where our container was last seen at, presumably with all the cookbooks still safely inside it (and hopefully some cases of Chardonnay). I remembered I had blogged about it once, so I typed "mexicans on boats" into Google, the words I remembered from the title I had given the blog post, and voila, there was my recipe. Except I then remembered I also had no chili powder in the house, which is in just a tiny way a more or less central ingredient to cooking chili, so I had to shelve the project. Maybe one day Google can spit out the actual chili powder for me as well.

I just wish people could at least spell. Though it doesn't seem to matter. "jo berg expat" still gets you to the right place, apparently.

Oh, and you'll also find me if you type in "now now just now."

Which reminds me, I've got to go. Please excuse me while I check my page views now now. I will be back for more just now.

King Pageview rules

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