May 27, 2006

Site statistics

Of the last 4,000 visitors to Diary of a Crossword Fiend this week, almost half dropped by as a result of various queries to search engines. What were these folks looking for? Most often, the answers to that ultra-obscure "ancient Turkish dynasty founder" clue (SELJUK) and the clever "Obstructor of congress?" clue (CELIBACY) from Patrick Berry's Mother's Day puzzle, as well as a Saturday puzzle Patrick did last month (who played the jilted wife in 1939's "Intermezzo"? 'Twas EDNA BEST), and Ashish Vengsarkar's "quote" puzzle from last Sunday. The raw numbers on the first page (below) are misleading because they don't incorporate, say, the dozens of differently worded queries about that jilted wife. But the relative ranking gives a rough picture.

I like having this snapshot into what draws people here. The most obscure things tend to bring fewer hits than the most devious clues, presumably because the more twisted a clue is, the more Google-proof it is (unless there happens to be a website in which such clues are discussed). There's a rush of Googling right when the puzzles first come out and for a day or two afterwards; then, six weeks later, the bizarro crowd gets the NYT puzzles in syndication, and a segment of the population suddenly needs to know who was in "Intermezzo."