Larry loses to the analyst

Taking into account the fact that Google is actually owned by millions of greedy shareholders who continually clamour for the share price, interest and dividends to be ‘massaged’ to make them rich I often wake up after a nightmare in which the following conversation occurs:

A phone rings and a voice answers saying; “Larry here how can I help you?”

The caller, a stock analyst (let’s call him Dick) for a large international brokerage firm, is known to Larry as a particularly nasty specimen of mankind who, unlike Larry and Sergey has never tried to “Do no evil”!

The conversation is short and nasty:

Analyst: “Larry, you and your team need to massage those numbers up again – I have a number of large institutional investors looking to move their money into higher yielding tech stocks and the loss of hundreds of billions in investment stock will hurt your company big time.”

Larry: “As you know Dick we have a number of long term projects in the pipeline which will contribute to stability and long term profits for all investors.”

Analyst: “Larry, our clients are only interested in short to medium term profits and I want you to accelerate this “Pay to Display” product that you have on Google.”

Larry: “As you are aware, Dick, we give free rankings to web sites that play our game properly and those web sites that have the highest number of other web sites linking to them are the ones that appear on the first page of any search done by people looking for that business or knowledge source.”

Analyst: “So you are telling me that you spend billions of stockholders dollars on giving traffic away to other web sites?”

Larry: “Umm, well, it doesn’t really work like that ….”

Analyst: “I certainly looks like a real airy fairy way of doing business. Remember Larry, business is about profit and not charity. That is why we hire expensive PR firms to tell the sheeple about those minuscule amounts you spend on the bloody ‘community’ – at least that way we get more publicity than if we had to buy space in the traditional media!”

Larry: “But, Dick, you have to see our inclusion of the linking factors as a way of advertising our superior searching services as well?”

Analyst: “Larry, my dear boy, there comes a time when you have to say enough and stop giving stuff away and that time is now in 2014.”

Larry: “So what would you suggest we do Dick?”

Analyst: “You need to stop ranking people on links – it uses up too many resources. The way I see it you can do one of two things: Remove the linking factors entirely from the algorithm and rank based on the use of Google Plus / YouTube and other Google products ONLY or leave the link ranking factors in the algorithm and charge each and every web site that wants to get traffic an annual set fee per link – that way we will get all the money that those clowns are spending on other bloody clowns trying to game our (Google’s) system.”

Larry: “But isn’t that little evil, Dick?”

Analyst: “Of course Larry – war is evil but those who are MOST evil win the war, now go on and win that bloody war for us Larry!”

Larry: “Yes, Dick!”

What will YOU do if the above conversation becomes a reality?

Think before you accept that bottle of water

Google’s linking policy in its Terms of Service says:

Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link.

Imagine you own a fashion, music or travel news site – part of your job is to attend fashion or music events or sample tourist products.

The people owning these products are eager for you to expose them to your audience and you get invited to experience these products. This is something that has happened in the ‘traditional’ media space for years. Business invites reporters to be open and honest about their product. For the reporters this is a double benefit – he/she gets to mingle with the rich and famous experience the high life whilst also being paid to write about it.

Now – I have a theory, people are not dumb and will realise when someone writes about something in an insincere way. Eventually that writer and publication will lose his audience as they seek out the ‘truth’ rather than the ‘fluff’. This is natural and happens almost on an unconscious level.

BUT, this is where Google’s linking Terms of Service is headed for a clash with the real world as we still get reporters eager to share links to products that they recommend and, technically, they will be in violation of Google’s Terms of Service as I can bet you that the reporter did receive some form of “free” product, lunch or bottle of water as a thank you for attending a presentation.

Does this mean that every writer, reporter and blogger now needs to publish a legal document stating that they did not receive any “free” items and paid for their own tea / coffee / biscuits?

Does this mean that every article written about any business, fashion, music or tourism product will violate Google’s Terms of Service?

Is it okay, nay recommended, to link to an internal page about the company that you write about?

Frightening stuff when a ToS is so broad!

Please remove my link

We know that Google is on the war path and mowing down web sites that have ‘unnatural’ or ‘spammy’ links pointing to them.

As the owner of a number of news/directory sites I am going to let you in on my ‘secrets’:

  • When I established my first community news site I wanted to showcase business and let people click though to a page that offered essential contact information on ONE page, whether the business had a web site or not.
  • I found that the same businesses came up time and time again in the news section.
  • It became a pain to link to each of these businesses contact pages or provide contact details for each that didn’t have a web site.
  • The solution: establish a directory so that I had ONE page to point to which, in turn, had ONE outgoing link to a businesses web site.
  • What I didn’t realise at the time was that the directory would become a valuable resource – and even more so for those people who didn’t have a web site as it gave them valuable online exposure for no cost.
  • At no time did I attempt to sell links or accept just anyone – for 10 years I have stuck to my respective narrow niches and avoided spamming the search engines with hundreds of external links for a single web site.
  • My business case: “Everything in Moderation”

This philosophy has stood me in good stead – slow and steady growth.

But now everyone who indulged in wholesale linking from every kind of directory in the world is now running around and removing themselves from every directory they can find just to try and get back in Google’s good graces.

Hence I am in receipt of a few (as in three in the last month) emails as the one you see below. If I consider that I only received 3 out of tens of thousands of listings then I remain convinced that my method of playing nice has been the correct one.

Hi there

We have recently received a notification from Google stating that our website www.SomeSpammyNamedWebSite.com has unnatural links pointing towards it. This has really damaged our rankings on Google and as a result, we’re trying to clear things up.

Below is a sample list of pages from your site – www.OneofMySites.co.za – with links pointing to our website:

www.OneofMySites.co.za/cgi-bin/rprtb.cgi?id=2297&cid=28881
www.OneofMySites.co.za/pages/info/2297-Some_Spammy_Named_WebSite.html

Could you please remove all links pointing to our website, or add the rel=’nofollow’ attribute to the links pointing to our site?

I appreciate this is inconvenient and isn’t a reflection on your website at all, but if you’re able to remove the links, we would really appreciate it and would be very grateful.

If you have any questions – feel free to contact me.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards from

Confused CEO
www.SomeSpammyNamedWebSite.com

In all three cases I removed the listings immediately.

In two of the cases the initial request was followed up after a few days ‘reminding’ me AGAIN to remove the links. You will appreciate that the second request will be viewed by myself as somewhat irksome!

It is at this point that Matt Cutts’ ears must surely be burning as I begin to curse Google’s latest attempt to penalise people who have been naughty as I offer up a not so silent approximation of a shouted prayer that Google should rather punish the sites that the links come from instead of the hapless buggers who went and embarked on a wholesale linking campaign thinking that quantity beats quality every time. Stooooopid.

So I ask – maybe I should ask people to pay to have listings removed that they initially submitted?

The year 2013 in Google

In a press release issued today, Google announced its annual year-end Zeitgeist, showing the top searches from specific countries and around the world.

South Africa is among the countries listed in Google Zeitgeist, and a South African icon, former president Nelson Mandela, also topped Google’s global rankings.

These lists are of interest to search marketers following on from Google now ‘not providing’ keywords that people use on their search engine to find web sites.

See below for abridged versions of Google’s lists of the top searches and fads for 2013.

Microsoft ‘renames’ Google as Scroogle

Q. How do you know a competitor is worried?
A. When they build a web site to show up the ‘defects’ of your product.

And, in this case it is Microsoft that is going after Google’s Chrome OS with a web site – Scroogled.com – and a series of video and other ads.

Some takeaways from Scroogled.com:

  • Go offline with Chrome OS and it’s apps access denied! Chrome OS uses mostly Web apps. So when you go offline, you’re out of luck. That means no playing popular movies, no printing, no editing your Google calendar, and no rich local/native apps you use to stay productive. Our advice: Don’t just stay online, stay off Chrome OS.
  • It’s not all fun and games with Chrome OS. With Chrome OS you can forget about watching popular movies and TV shows when you’re offline, and say goodbye to immersive gaming and living room integration with Xbox SmartGlass and Miracast. Plus, you’ll only get limited access to smartphones, digital cameras and DVD/CD players.
  • Movies and TV shows are not so popular with Chrome OS. When it comes to popular movies and TV shows, Chrome OS is rated R, for restricted. That’s because it has no drive to play DVDs and CDs, and when it’s offline, show time is over.
  • Printing with Chrome OS? Good luck. The Chromebook simply can’t connect directly to any printer. And with most printers, you’ll need to print through a PC or Mac. Or, you can always spring for a special Google cloud printer. And there’s more: If you’re offline, you’re out of luck-you won’t be able to print at all.
  • With Chrome OS, you’re restricted by design. Here’s yet another thing you don’t get with Chrome OS: the ability to connect directly to most printers and scanners, and the ability to sync with many smartphones, MP3 players, and cameras. All of which adds up to a giant, Chrome OS design flaw.
  • Go offline with Chrome OS and it’s apps access denied! Chrome OS uses mostly Web apps. So when you go offline, you’re out of luck. That means no playing popular movies, no printing, no editing your Google calendar, and no rich local/native apps you use to stay productive. Our advice: Don’t just stay online, stay off Chrome OS.
  • Get ready for some weird-looking documents on Chromebook. Chromebook can’t install Office and that’s where the problems begin. Many of your documents (like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) will often appear with wacky formatting because Chromebook uses cheap imitations of Office. So the user gets poor substitutes for the real thing. Which describes Chromebook in a nutshell.
  • Chrome OS offers thousands of apps, but not when and where you need them. If you have favorite apps-and we all do-Chrome OS doesn’t care in the least. It uses mostly Web-based, Google apps that work only when the Chromebook is online. Go offline and you’re on your own. How’s that for convenience?
  • Chromebook is designed to use Wi-Fi to work. Now, what could ever go wrong? Imagine, relying on Wi-Fi to fully function. It’s another case of, “What could they have been thinking?” Here’s what life is like offline: no creating or editing new Google spreadsheets; no editing Google calendar; no watching popular movies or TV shows; and no printing.
  • Chromebook says you’re protected. Do you take their word for it? Let’s take a look at the facts: Chromebook is a tether to Google’s set of cloud services that can gather personal information to target you with ads. Plus, Google goes through the contents of your Gmail and Gchats to target you with ads. Are you noticing a pattern?
  • Are you getting Scroogled by Google? In the beginning, Google preached, “Don’t be evil”-but that changed on May 31, 2012. That’s when Google Shopping announced a new initiative. Simply put, all of their shopping results are now paid ads. We say that when you limit choices and rank them by payment, consumers get Scroogled. For an honest search result, try Bing.
  • Google’s 2012 SEC Disclosure: “After all, ads are just more answers to users’ queries.”
  • Think Google respects your privacy? Think again. Google goes through every Gmail that’s sent or received, looking for keywords so they can target Gmail users with paid ads. And there’s no way to opt out of this invasion of your privacy. Outlook.com is different-we don’t go through your email to sell ads.
  • Google shares your personal info with app makers. When you buy an Android app from Google’s Play store, they give the app company your full name, email address and the neighborhood where you live. This occurs without clear warning every single time you make a purchase. The Windows Store respects your privacy and does not give your personal info to app companies.
  • Early enrollment open for ad-free search. When students use Google for searches in school, they are shown ads that can distract from their studies. Bing for Schools removes all ads from searches on the school’s network, adds strict filters to help prevent adult content, and enhances privacy protections. Bing for Schools is available at no charge for K-12 schools in the U.S., public or private-send a sign-up request for your child’s school. This is an initial pilot program and space is limited.
  • Google spams your inbox with ads that look like real emails. Google violates your privacy by reading every single word of every single email sent to and from Gmail accounts so they can better target you with ads. Now, they’re going one step further over the line by using that same personal information to spam your inbox with ads designed to look like real emails.
  • Google Accused of Wiretapping in Gmail Scans – The New York Times. NYT: Google also argued that non-Gmail users had no expectation of privacy when corresponding with Gmail users. Outlook.com is different. We prioritize your privacy.
  • Google must stand trial for Wi-Fi data grab. Google’s Street View cars secretly wiretapped Wi-Fi routers in the US and 30 countries, and lied about it. The court says Google may be held liable for wiretapping and stealing personal data, such as emails and passwords.

Worried much Microsoft?

Microsoft Internal Google Chrome Bouncing Ball Now Everywhere Parody.

Watch Rick and the Old Man from Gold & Silver Pawn Shop break down the Google Chromebook.

Scroogled

Things are about to get ugly in the jungle as Microsoft goes after Google with Scroogled.

Why relying on ONE distribution medium is WRONG

Okay I confess I am a bit of a narcissist when it comes to checking on how articles that I write then feature on search engines such as Google. I still get all excited when articles literally fly to the number one position on Google’s index immediately after pushing the publish button.

I do not squeal like a giddy schoolgirl though – lots of air punching and a delighted crooked grin are all you get out of me.

This morning I wrote an article about a young woman’s triumph over Leukaemia – which she writes about in her book called Leukaemia Unveiled.

Young Chanel Wewege has a Facebook page for her book but nothing much else. So between my mate from Photo Addict (who was responsible for the back cover photo on the book) and I we are opening up some new marketing channels for her.

We have solved ONE ‘problem’ for her – Now if anyone Googles her book Leukaemia Unveiled and only looks for results from South Africa her book will be found.

Consider the images below:

Leukemia Unveiled World

The search results for ‘Leukaemia Unveiled’ using ALL results – see Facebook AND MyPE in the results.

Leukaemia Unveiled RSA

The search results for ‘Leukaemia Unveiled’ using results from Souith Africa ONLY – see MyPE in the results.

Have your site evaluated by Google

John Mueller, a Switzerland based Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, and (we presume) his team are offering to analyse your web site live at their Google+ Hangout on Monday 18 November at 10am EDT.

As Mueller says on his Google+ page; “We’re doing short website reviews for the office-hours hangout on Monday. If you have a website, and would like to have someone from Google take a look & give you feedback, here’s your chance!”

If you would like to include your web site for consideration go to this page: http://www.google.com/moderator/#15/e=203709&t=203709.83

You may have to recruit a couple of mates to tick your question to try and get it to the top of the list, though.

If you miss the Hangout you can always view it later on Mueller’s YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/softplus. Warning to those wanting to avoid a bandwidth penalty – the videos are all more than an hour long.

Responsive Design vs Dedicated Mobile Site

In this video and in response to a question asked by John E. of New York; “Does a site leveraging responsive design ‘lose’ any SEO benefit compared to a more traditional m. site?”, Matt Cutts explains that there is no SEO disadvantage to using responsive design. In fact Cutts seems to come out in favour of using responsive design as he says; “… if you have a mobile version of your site [as well as a PC version] and you don’t do the rel canonical well you might, in theory, divide the page rank between those two pages. But, if you have responsive design everything is handled from one URL and so the page rank doesn’t get divided and everything works fine.”

Matt Cutts is Google’s head of search spam.

Optimise your articles for Google Country and Time Search

Online publishers and marketers need to realise that savvy searchers can, using Googles Country and Timeline search choices, get results that are entirely different from the normal Google.com search box of old.

To illustrate – I publish to a network of South African city specific online properties, each is uniquely and easily identifiable as catering to a specific city in South Africa. In other words each site resists the temptation to be all things to all people and is fiercely local in content.

All of the articles on each of the main local sites are then sent to an aggregator – www.MyZA.co.za to serve as a widely country specific curation of local content. MyZA has a lot of unique content as well in the form of a comprehensive events calendar for the entire country.

Each of the local sites has built up trust with the search engines and is ageing well. I can see this in the results – especially when I publish a series of articles around the same theme on a number of the local sites.

The recent Inyathelo Awards are a prime example. I received a press release for the Inyathelo Awards which took place on 5 November 2013. The global press release identified the 8 award winners by city so I developed a ‘holding’ article for publication on MyCapeTown.co.za and articles with uniques content for each individual winner to be published on each local site: MyJHB.co.za, MyCapeTown.co.za, MyPTA.co.za and MyDurban.co.za. The press release was embargoed until 8:00 pm so set each article to be published at that time exactly.

Every single award winner article published provides handy links to each of the other award winners individual articles praising their achievements. To see what I mean visit the main article – Top philanthropists honoured at Inyathelo Awards – and then click on each award winners hyperlinked name to see the individual artilces and the backlinks in those individual articles to more information on each.

What we have achieved here is a method to signal to the search engines where to get more information and MOST IMPORTANTLY we have also provided a method for the reader to explore more information about each award winner.

The attached screen shot illustrates the three strongest, oldest and most trusted sites featuring very well in a Country and Time Specific Google search – in fact 5 of the results on the first page of Google for this search combination come from my network of local sites. MyPTA and MyDurban lag behind as the domains are pretty young and need time to build up greater trust and relevance.

Inyathelo Awards

Inyathelo Awards

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