That information is called news. It’s quite scarce and it’s very useful.
But news isn’t the only kind of scarce, useful information. Ever since the local wiki I manage started pulling in search traffic, I’ve noticed something pretty interesting: about 30 percent of our search traffic comes from people’s names.
We’re not talking about Britney Spears here. We’re talking about Patricia McCaig, a political aide to Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, and Ted Buehler, a bicycle safety activist. They aren’t boring; they’re just not at all famous. They’re the most interesting hand you shook at the church picnic. They’re people who make it happen (whatever it is) without talking to the press or keeping a website of their own.
They’re people people are looking for.
Check out this chart of the 110 most popular Google searches leading to PortlandAfoot.org in the last 60 days:
Thirty-seven of those, or 34 percent (marked in red), were searches for people’s names. (For visibility’s sake, the vertical axis is a log scale.) If you don’t count Portland Afoot’s #1 search phrase, which is just the name of the site, people’s names accounted for 30 percent of Google-driven visits, too.
It turns out that people are looking for people quite a lot.
And – especially on the local level, I suspect – people are scarce.
(Extremely clever photo by an unknown photographer.)