That said, my vanity was piqued earlier today when I took a rare, detailed look at the most popular searches that led people to my blog. Via Negativa is now the #1 result in Google for penis poetry, #2 for penis poems, #8 for penis poem, and #3 for poems about penis. (You might have to turn “safe search” off to verify these results at home.) In the non-phallic category, Via Negativa comes in at #8 for poems about movies, #1 for viking nicknames, #1 for balm of Gilead tree, and #3 for raccoon sex.
There’s a depressingly clear pattern emerging from all these inadvertently search engine-optimized (SEO) posts. All include the search term right in the title of the post: “The penis poems.” “Poems about movies.” Viking nicknames.” “Felling the balm of Gilead.” “Hot raccoon sex.”
The SEO experts are right: if you want Google juice, pander to the bots with titles only a robot could love. For example, if you want to blog a poem about giving birth, title the post “poem about giving birth,” and save the actual title for the next line. (You could always enclose it in h1 or h2 tags, if you still want to make sure it’s indexed.) I mean, I’m probably not going to change my ways anytime soon, but don’t let my stick-in-the-mud example deter you from deploying titles like the one I used for this post. (If there’s one thing guaranteed to get lots of searches, it’s a blog post about SEO.)
But please keep things in perspective. Even my most Google-friendly poems have yet to garner more than a couple thousand page views total in the 17 months since I started using WordPress.com stats. Blogging poetry may be a much better way to reach audiences than through traditional publication in print journals, but that’s relative: poetry blogs will still never attract a fraction of the readership of, say, knitting blogs, mommy blogs, or (lord help us) political opinion blogs. And sadly, it seems that only a vanishingly small percentage of those who go online every day in search of information about the human male sex organs say to themselves, “Hey! I wonder if there are any really good poems about it?”