Turns out the
Google Sitemaps stats security problem means anyone can access the top terms
driving traffic to the US White House web
site. The top term isn’t going to make President George W. Bush very happy.
That’s because it’s "failure."
Many are familiar that Bush was targeted with a link bomb for the words
"miserable failure," and recently just the word "failure" has worked as well.
A "Prank" And Not Web’s Opinion, Says Google from us in September explains
Now we see the flip side. Not only is the White House ranking well for that
word, but it’s also the biggest driver of traffic to the web site. Lots of
people are clicking after searching on the term.
Specifically, here are the "Top Search Query Clicks" for the site, as
reported by the Google sitemaps system:
These show the five most popular queries that are sending the site traffic.
In other words, of all the ways the White House web site might be searched for
and rank well on Google, these are the terms sending the most visitors
"downstream" to the White House.
Nope, I have no idea why failure appears twice. But it might be related to
something that can at least sooth President Bush’s feelings a bit. In the past,
a search for [miserable failure] would bring up Bush’s bio first, then bring up
President Jimmy Carter’s bio second. So some of this traffic might be related to
It’s difficult to know, however, because Google doesn’t state how far back
these stats go. Are they top searches in the past week, month, year? That’s not
defined in help
about the tool. At the moment, Carter doesn’t show for either [miserable
failure] or [failure].
Aside from clicks, what are the most popular queries on Google that the White
House site ranks for? Those are:
The difference with these stats and the ones above is that while the White
House ranks well for these popular queries, they aren’t the biggest driver of
visits. In other words, Bush may be number one for [W], but people are likely
clicking on other results.
By the way, I debated whether to expose the data, not wanting to violate the
privacy of another web site. However, in the end, it’s public information. If I
put in a freedom of information request to the White House for the data, there’s
absolutely no reason it wouldn’t be granted. In addition, other companies such
as Hitwise and
comScore can determine search queries to
any particular site, so it’s hardly inaccessible — just something I’d never
seen or thought about before.