# Top search terms on squareCircleZ and Interactive Mathematics

By Murray Bourne, 26 Jul 2008

I am often amazed, and amused, at the search terms that people use in their journey to squareCircleZ (this blog) and Interactive Mathematics, which is my main site.

Denise over at *Let’s Play Math!* wrote about the weird search terms used by visitors to her blog (in Christmas in July) and she invited others to share their experiences.

So here goes.

For squareCircleZ, the top search terms for the last few months, the articles they led to, and the position in Google's search results in [ ] brackets, were:

- equation writer [#6] (where I bag the Microsoft math editing product)
- phase angle [#11] (where I discuss a challenge from a reader who said "phase angle" and "phase shift" were not the same thing)
- math tattoos [#13] (which talks about fractal tattoos)
- algebrator [#5] (which is a Web-based product that displays and explains all the steps of various math problems. My review indicated it was not quite ready for prime time.)
- heymath [#3] (which is a product with lots of potential, but I think its 100% emphasis on "math for math's sake" misses the point)

There were some top search terms that were not so mathematical, including:

- di pietro engine [#4] (about compressed-air cars)
- google map singapore (which talks about self-censorship of Singapore Google maps)
- singapore tsunami [#2] (there wasn't one - the 2004 tsunami did not affect Singapore directly)
- bilingualism in politics [#16] (where I talk about how relatively successful Singapore is at multiculturalism)
- pagebreeze review [#2] (which is about a free HTML editor, which I rate as "so-so")

More unusual search terms were:

- math graffiti, also see Greek Graffiti
- dead reckoning computer (a circular slide rule used by pilots)
- how much is a big mac in australia, which talks about the Big Mac Index.

## Interactive Mathematics search terms

By far the most common search term that brings visitors to Interactive Mathematics is "basic algebra". It's been #1 on Google's search results page for a few years now.

But what does "basic algebra" actually mean? To a lot of people, it means 'any hard math that scares me'. If you are a Grade 8 student, "basic math" probably means what you did the year before (which others would call "pre-algebra"). To the nuclear physicist, "basic algebra" could mean 'differential equations'.

So I'm not really ever sure what people want for that term. Bounce rates (visitors who just "bounce" out of the site again and look elsewhere) are pretty low, so I guess most are finding what they want.

Other top search terms:

Some of the more unusual search terms include:

- sin(x) (What do they really want? An introduction? A graph? How to differentiate it?)
- AIDS (which points to an introductory topic in Differential Equations)
- in how many ways can 6 girls and 2 boys be arranged in a row such that the 2 boys are together? (This phrase resulted in 5 visits (yes, 5) - Lucky for those searchers, I happened to have a question on exactly that in the Permutations section.)

So that's it. If you found this post via Google, then welcome!

I'm thinking of writing some articles on "how to search for math using Google", since it seems that a lot of people are not very sure how to do it.

BTW, search engine results are *very* important for on-line (and bricks and mortar) businesses. If they can't find you, they won't buy from you.

See also: The most popular squareCircleZ math blog post in 2007, which was the result of a similar challenge.

See the 1 Comment below.

29 Jul 2008 at 11:35 pm [Comment permalink]

It was interesting to go back and read some of your past articles, several from back before I had discovered blogs, so I'd never seen them. (Yes, I'm always late to the party!) Thanks for sharing!