I often make reference to the Google searches that bring people to my site, and I frequently receive e-mails from people asking how I know what these searches are. For any beginning bloggers who might be reading this, I thought I’d tell you how to do it.
I use Site Meter to track my blog traffic. It’s free, it’s reliable, and (don’t say I didn’t warn you) it’s addictive. There are similar web counter sites out there (if you have one you like, feel free to share the URL in my comment section), but Site Meter is my favorite.
If you haven’t installed Site Meter on your site, I’d highly recommend it. It’s easy to do (as evidenced by the fact that I did it all by myself without calling Chilihead late at night whining "I’m stuuuuuck…."). Once it’s installed, and you have logged in, you will be taken to a page called "Site Summary". Most of the information there is self-explanatory. Over on the left side of the page is a header called "Recent Visitors". Underneath it are listed all your options for finding out how people came to your site, where they are from, how long they stayed, etc. The second line in that section says "By Referrals"; click on it. As you look through the list of referring websites, look for sites that begin with http://www.google.com… or http://www.msn.search.com… (these seem to be the two most common search engines, at least for my site). If you click on that particular line, it will take you to the specific search criteria that the person was using when they clicked on your site. Make sense?
In addition to being interesting (and ohmygosh funny), it’s an important security feature, in my opinion. It gives you at least the tiniest feeling of control to know who is visiting your site. If creepy searchers are stringing together some otherwise harmless words into a questionable phrase (and yes, it’s happened to me and to more than one of my friends), you can make the necessary adjustments to your site (i.e., removing the words in question). You can’t be too careful.