the complete review Quarterly
Volume I, Issue 4   --   November, 2000

Dyer Interest
Looking for Geoff Dyer on the Internet
page 2

page 1 | page 3

2. Finding Geoff Dyer on the Internet

       The mere availability of pages devoted to Geoff Dyer on the Internet by itself is meaningless: people must also be able to find these pages. Search engines are the primary means of finding information and sites, and the complete review Quarterly surveyed a wide variety of sites to determine how readily Geoff Dyer pages (in particular those on the complete review) can be found. The results are somewhat disappointing (as any efforts to find information via search engines tend to be), but anyone who uses at least two different search engines types is likely to find links to some information about Dyer.
       Our initial survey surveyed search engines on Friday, 18 August, 2000. "Geoff Dyer" (and nothing else) was entered as a search term. The table below provides the following information:
Geoff Dyer on the Search Engines
Search engine Pages In top ten Rank of
Dyer page
Highest ranked other page
Alta Vista 686 6 2 Pure Fiction overview
AOL Netfind 10 6 5 FEED
Direct Hit (50+) 4 -- UO Library Recent Acquisitions
Excite 627 8 1 A Note on Photographs by Dyer
FAST 767 8 7 Australian artist Geoff Dyer site
GO Network 129 6 -- The Colour of Memory review
Google 878 8 3 Australian artist Geoff Dyer site
HotBot (200+) 9 -- A Note on Photographs by Dyer
MSN Search 246 10 -- A Note on Photographs by Dyer
Northern Light 876 9 (2) Paris Trance review
WebCrawler 11 7 -- Light Flight
WebTop 57,968 8 -- The Colour of Memory review
Yahoo 467 9 2 Australian artist Geoff Dyer site

       The range of results is quite astonishing. Inktomi-based search engines (MSN, HotBot, etc.) were particularly reluctant to return pages from the complete review, but generally returned some Geoff Dyer related pages. The poorest search engine surveyed was doubtlessly Direct Hit (looking more like "Aimless Miss"), which returned at least 50 results but managed to have it's highest ranked page one that returns a 404 Error page (i.e. it does not exist) -- and which would have been a fairly useless result even if it were available.
       Note also that the AOL Netfind results refer to "web sites" (perhaps explaining the low number of returns). Their default search engine is also Inktomi-based, and so if "web pages" are searched there are many more pages available (but again poor placement, if any, of complete review pages).
       Among interesting results are those from GO Network (formerly the marvelous Infosearch) and WebTop. Both returned the complete review's review of The Colour of Memory as their top result -- but did not have the complete review's Geoff Dyer page anywhere in their listings. Not really how search engines should work, we think.
       Australian artist Geoff Dyer's good showing seems entirely reasonable, as does the high ranking of a piece by Dyer, A Note on Photographs. WebCrawler's top result (of a very small total) -- Light Flight -- on the other hand is baffling.
       A number of search engines returned multiple hits from what is essentially the same site -- numerous hits from FEED, Nerve, or Salon -- and include pointless pages such as indices or the like. A number of search engines also gave links to pages

       Overall it is clear that information about Geoff Dyer is relatively easy to find on the Internet. Regardless of what search engine is used, a search for "Geoff Dyer" yields at least four results out of the top ten that in some way refer to the author. Ignoring the basically useless Direct Hit the minimum number is, in fact, six out of the top ten. Inktomi-based search engines, as well as the Go Network won't show the most useful Geoff Dyer page (the complete review's Geoff Dyer page) but will point to other sites and pages. Those search engines that do list the complete review's Geoff Dyer page all place it in the top ten results.
       The complete review's Geoff Dyer page is also listed on numerous directories -- though not on the most-used one (Yahoo, who have not accepted the page despite repeated submissions). The superior Open Directory lists it, and many directories copy that one. It is generally the only Geoff Dyer listing of any sort available on most directories; Yahoo does not have any Geoff Dyer listings in it directory..

       It seems reasonable to infer from these results that a considerable percentage of Internet-users looking for information about the author Geoff Dyer would find and visit the complete review's Geoff Dyer page. The page is one of the first three listed on Yahoo, Google, Excite, and AltaVista, and two other search engines have a complete review review of a Dyer title as their top hit. It is remarkable, then, that the actual number of visitors to this page is so small, and leads to the conclusion that interest in finding information about Geoff Dyer on the Internet is extremely limited.

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3. Finding Geoff Dyer's Books on the Internet

       The complete review Quarterly also surveyed search engine results for individual Geoff Dyer titles (also on 18 August, 2000), though this survey was restricted to the better search engines -- Alta Vista, FAST, Google, and Northern Light. Only the title of the respective works was typed in (e.g. "Ways of Telling"), and the complete review Quarterly recorded:        Obviously better results would be obtained by entering both the book title AND the author name; nevertheless, it is surprising how good the results are using just the title. (The one exception is, understandably, the hopeless The Search -- a search term that yields far too many results, and where the most popular ones obviously have nothing to do with Dyer's book.)

Geoff Dyer Titles on Search Engines
Title/Search Engine Pages complete review
review rank
Top ten pages
devoted to title
Ways of Telling: . . .
Alta Vista 67 5 2
FAST 2,035 1 1
Google 2,800 1 1
Northern Light 9,384 1 1
The Colour of Memory: . . .
Alta Vista 33 (4) 3
FAST 50 3 3
Google 454 2 1
Northern Light 2,281 3 1
But Beautiful: . . .
Alta Vista 3,101 7 3
FAST 17,740 198 1
Google 23,400 3 3
Northern Light 16,398 14 0
The Search: . . .
Alta Vista 118,632 n.a. 0
FAST 1,618,576 n.a. 0
Google 63,700,000 n.a. 0
Northern Light 1,547,245 n.a. 0
The Missing of the Somme: . . .
Alta Vista 15 (5) 2
FAST 54 n.a. 2
Google 85 n.a. 1
Northern Light 76 n.a. 1
Out of Sheer Rage: . . .
Alta Vista 76 1 10
FAST 210 4 8
Google 190 1 10
Northern Light 285 2 10
Paris Trance: . . .
Alta Vista 70 (9) 9
FAST 224 1 9
Google 184 2 9
Northern Light 204 1 10
Anglo-English Attitudes: . . .
Alta Vista 18 1 8
FAST 32 1 8
Google 29 1 10
Northern Light 40 1 9

       Dyer's three most recent titles all produce excellent results -- at least eight out of the top ten hits refer to the book in question, regardless of search engine. The earlier titles do not do quite as well; they are also not as distinctive.
       The complete review's reviews were ranked exceptionally high -- remarkably so this was true even for the early titles. Again one can safely conclude that Internet-users seeking information about specific Geoff Dyer titles are extremely likely to come across reviews posted at the complete review. And again the sad truth is that the visitors are few and far between (single-digit daily totals are the norm, a double-digit visitor total a rarity for any of the Dyer reviews at the complete review).

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