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1984 is nearer than You Think?

What? It’s 2014 I hear you cry, not 1984, have you totally lost the plot Steve?

Well gang what I really mean is that the society dominated by Social Engineering described so ominously in Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s 1984 is a damn site nearer than most people think.

Consider the following article “Five Days Later, It Looks Like Google Has Penalized Web Design Library For Selling Links” taken from Search Engine Land found here: http://searchengineland.com/five-days-later-looks-like-google-penalized-web-design-library-selling-links-187591. Now the first thing to be honest that comes to mind when reading the article is that just how dumb is this character Vince from “Web Design Library”? This has to be a set up or a bad joke on behalf of someone trying to destroy someone else’s business model as surely no one who is trying to promote methods of SERPS promotion can be that amazingly anally retentive to do it via Twitter – when I’d stopped laughing, picked myself up from the floor and dusted down my jeans I was more concerned by Matt Cutts response around a third of the way down the page where he tweeted to Vince his “Big Brother is watching you” tweet.

Now OK take the tongue in cheek joke element out of this and then cross reference this with other activities practised by Mssrs Cutts and Mueller and their cronies from the ‘Plex then you get more of a picture of what is going on?

If you would like more information as to exactly what regular abuses of the system that Google regularly perpetrate then get yourself over to Amazon (there are other Booksellers – not a plug) and buy a copy of “The Filter Bubble” by Eli Pariser  just to see exactly what shenanigans are going on that we’re not being told about?

Seriously if you think that good ‘ol Steve has been smoking cheap weed again (those who know me know I don’t smoke at all) and indulging in a throw backs of outright Paranoia then buy this book (no affiliate deal here so just plain advice), go to Page 42 and read all about the activities of Mack McLarty and an organisation called Acxiom to find out who really got the Search for the 911 Bombers going?

Lastly (and I often quote this so indulge me here…again) I love the quote used by an anonymous Google staffer when asked about the Company Mantra from the IPO era “Do Not Do Evil”. When asked do they? He replied:

“We don’t but if we did boy could we how?”

I venture looking back over its activities that Google actually does and on a regular basis but there is no legislative body on earth that has the balls to do anything about it.

Google Page Rank Now a “Busted Flush”

First up the issue about Google and Page Rank and why I think it’s a “busted flush”?

OK a little bit of Page Rank History.

Firstly, Page Rank (PR) as a “Concept and Marketing Tool” is not owned by Google. OK this might come as a bit of a shocker to most out there who believe Google own the Page Rank Concept but sadly this is true.

The Page Rank Algorithm was developed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin whilst both were students at Stanford and therefore the copyright of the Page Rank Algorithm (as with most patents / concepts of this type) is owned by Stanford University and exclusivity for Google to use it is granted by way of a “lease / agreement” between Stanford and Google Inc. Both parties have done very well out of the arrangement with Stanford profiting almost to the tune of $500M in stock options exercised at the time of the Google IPO (it is estimated).

What this means is that Google as a Commercial entity have only a set time period for their exclusive use of this patent before the “competition” muscle in and try to exploit (should they so wish).

Shortly after Google started to use PR as part of their marketing offering it didn’t take long for the Internet Marketing (IM) community to realise that here was a pretty important “cog” in Google’s overall ranking Algorithm that was so exploitable it was almost untrue.

Overnight (seemingly and with painstaking effort and construction) whole High Page Rank Networks were created and links were sold, money changed hands and fortunes were made almost overnight.

The trouble with this was that none of this lovely money was flowing in Google’s direction and they were the developers of the concept.

Remember the good old days when all you had to do to rank well in Google was pop along to the likes of the Digital Point Forum or Warrior Forum, strike a deal with a couple of vendors and within days “the juice” of those newly bought nice High Page Rank links was flowing through to your Web site and rankings were seemingly assured.

Yep, money was easier to make (if you were a seller) and almost overnight, as I said earlier, fortunes were being made and then almost as quickly the first of the dreaded updates hit and just as quickly fortunes were then lost.

This abated the (seeming) abuse of the Page Rank concept for a short while till folks found that all the Update had done was eradicate existing Page Rank and that the loophole in the concept was still there and that new(er) sites could be developed using the existing methodology.

Over the years since, Google have come out with one update after another under “the guise” of refining Search and making SERPS results more meaningful and supposedly more accurate but as most observers report after each and every update there are results featuring and ranking in Google that the aforementioned Update was supposed to eradicate so the upshot of all of this that actually Google as an organisation is “full of Bull” and these exercises are nothing more than “muscle flexing”.

A way of strong arming reluctant people into their Adwords Campaigns.

Not nice, especially as let no one try to fool you, Adwords is an expensive Sand Pit to play in and I’m not denying that it can’t be made profitable, it’s an expensive learning curve for all except one…….Google.

Funny that?

But the final nail in the Page Rank coffin lies with the expiration of the exclusivity of the Patent. Microsoft, Yahoo et al are all hovering over the Patent and now are well aware of the inner most intricacies of how it works and various hidden aspects that all but the hardy serious researchers have missed and given the time span before the competition get commercial access to the rights for Page Rank, Google have to start to downgrade its usefulness so as not to appear too stupid when they finally trash it in an attempt to drive the opposition from the scent.

They can hardly turn round on the eve of the Competition launching their own equivalent and then say “well we never thought it was worth much anyway” and remain remotely credible so they have to start the downgrading and denial process early. Hence the latest “Page Rank is now only one of the 200 or so factors we consider in our Algorithm” as opposed to the old days where “Page Rank” was the seeming “Crown Jewel” or “First among Equals” in its methodology.

Nope, the only thing that hasn’t happened to Page Rank is that no one has yet read out the Last Rites to it so don’t pin the future of any marketing program around anything that even refers to Page Rank as any form of credible component.

Next up, the rapidly diminishing amount of accurate information from Google Searches. Google are now claiming that there are certain items of Search Term referral data that for data protection issues, they cannot reveal to Web Site owners. This is actually increasing and in certain quarters it is believed that sooner or later they are going to encrypt all Search Data from Web Site owners.

As the guys at WordPress.com said recently:

UPDATE: In September 2013 Google started to rapidly expand the number of searches that it encrypts, which results in a higher proportion of “Unknown search terms” in your stats.  According to some sources,  this expansion will eventually result in encryption of all Google searches.  This is being done for privacy reasons by Google when someone searches at Google.com, before a visitor arrives at your WordPress.com site.  Therefore we don’t have any way to unhide the search terms.  We recognize this means a loss of stats information for you and we will look for other ways to show you how users arrived at your site.

This whole Google activity is again, yes you’ve got it, complete bulls**t for several reasons.

Firstly if it was being driven purely for proscribed legal reasons then why ain’t anyone else doing it then Mr Cutts? And secondly, how come you are quite happy to provide similar data to users of your Adwords Service?

Oh sorry, forgot they are paying you money so you have to provide more data but knowing Google I’m sure if they could they’d be quite happy to try and limit that information too.

The best quote I heard recently was from one of my colleagues on a forthcoming SEO Venture and we were discussing why we should publish information via Kindle and using Amazon as a platform etc. He said “it’s simple Steve, I want to work with someone who is happy for me to make money, is going to help me make it and isn’t going to go out of their way to financially cut my legs off without warning every few months”.

Makes sense to me.

 

Penguins, Hummingbirds…it must mean another gesture from Google

Boy has it been an interesting couple of weeks eh? Dealing with “Google et al” at the moment is like sitting through endless reruns of “Jaws” – just when you think it’s safe to sit down, grab a coffee and catch your breath they come out with another update etc etc.

Ho hum, what fun eh?

Now first things first….there has been absolute “oodles” written, as we say over here in “good old blighty” (United Kingdom for those not familiar with the term) about the latest Penguin update and my first word of warning is don’t trust any of it and my logic is as follows.

Google has spent the last number of months working on this with seemingly endless resources, manpower and funds at their disposal developing this and some folks want us to believe that three whizz kids with a Laptop working out of some flat in the back end of South East London (or wherever) have reverse engineered it, got is sorted and want to sell us the results of this Nobel Prize Winning Thesis for $9.95 on the Warrior Forum?

I also believe in the Tooth Fairy and for a further $25 (‘cos I’m a generous guy, call it an OTO) would like the same individuals to tell me the winning numbers for this weekend’s Euro Lottery Millions please?

Yup, like that’s going to happen?

OK now we’ve got that sorted what has this all been about and what are the current rumours doing the rounds?

Well, as you can imagine there are loads. I’ve just finished watching a video from another Internet SEO who normally is pretty entertaining and funny and half way through his video he shot himself in the foot (without I presume realising it I guess) metaphorically speaking.

His assertion was that his favourite technique which had been working for the past 10 years could never be “second guessed”..because it plain worked and to do this would require a complete rewrite of everything that Google knew and did about Search?

Hello…is there anyone in there?

Are the lights on? Guess what?

That’s what Google have just done. It’s called the Hummingbird Algorithm and it’s the first time in over 10 years that Google have had a complete rewrite in the way their Algorithm works.

As Business News Daily described it:

“…..the search giant’s largest search algorithm update since 2001. The search engine’s recent overhaul — which affects 90 percent of searches”

It is a veritable “Paradigm Shift” in the way we look at and view Search and it’s way too early to completely understand what and how it works and in the days and weeks to come I’ll try and get some sort of distillation of collective thought and pass it along to you guys.

The other assertion being bandied around was that High PR (Page Rank) links work , have worked for the past 10 years and we see no reason why they will stop working…without this complete rewrite of their Search Algorithm which of course…they’ve just done.

Well the bad news about Page Rank is that……..they haven’t updated it in the past 6 months (in some cases more) and it’s widely accepted in most circles that…Page Rank is a “busted flush” anyway and even worse for so called SEO / Page Rank Experts (and this is the killer) it was all a veritable “Red Herring” to start with. Page Rank as most conventionally understand it has never truly existed. Certainly not in its actual format as we see it.

Over “at the ‘plex” (Google HQ) they’ve been having a good laugh at our expense for the past 10 years or so. Those of a sufficiently “anal disposition” who have read and tried to understand the Page Rank Patent (now available to view according to US Patent legislation) were slightly shocked to find that the actual Page Rank Coefficient was a calculation between 0 and 1 not 1 and 10.

Page Rank has been a veritable Pandora’s Box of a concept that Google have been trying to put the lid on to for the past 10 years or so since the bright brains trust at Google ever released the concept to the outside world. Great idea fellas, they were just sadly naive and underestimated their fellow mankind’s predisposition to rob, cheat and blag their fellow humans of money, benefit etc and all without Google making an actual penny out of a Concept……that was theirs in the first place.

So this leads me to my final assertion.

What’s all of this been about?

Well call me a cynic (hey I’ve been called a damn site worse over the years but I digress) but……..consider this.

Google have been involved in  massive land rush over the past 10-12 years or so providing loads of free services that to be totally honest, most of us have taken advantage of quite freely such as Gmail, Web Analytics, YouTube and a whole host of others. Now this was fine in the early years when the “don’t do evil” brigade were embarking upon their “evangelical crusade to educate the great unwashed” (that’s us to you and me) and they could rely upon Venture Capitalists with more money than sense to fund their actions but now the climate has changed.

Instead of soppy VC’s to satisfy, they now have “glass eyed monsters to satisfy in the shape of Wall St Fund Managers and Analysts who’ll downgrade the stock price if they think they’ve been short changed over the type of coffee they’ve just been given (freely) at the latest earnings briefing. Namely they have stockholders to report to and provide profits and dividends to.

So what’s this all leading to?

It’s “Pay to play” time lads and lasses. The Free lunch that most have been living off for the past 12 years has just ended and it’s now time to get serious.

Does this mean the end of free Organic SEO? Nope.

Does this mean it’s going to get harder to work in our favour with Google? Yes and no

Yes, if all you do is just “bog on” (as they say over here) with your existing strategies and techniques. No, if you keep evolving and keep your “wits” about you.

It will still be possible to develop the odd “performing poodle routine” in SEO as it is such an enormous subject / market area that with software and platforms developing almost on an hourly basis is too much to continually monitor and police but these will become fewer and further apart to be frank.

We have a couple, that I’ll be briefing members of Simple Leveraging on over the next few weeks as we’re going into Mega Training mode” for members – just for those who wondered what we’ve been up to for the past few weeks.

We have a couple of techniques that in certain cases (with the new Hummingbird Algo it would appear) are landing Page 1 slots in Google within a few days and are killing it in Yahoo and Bing (remember them?) and I’ll be covering those with members in the webinars. The last promo we ran for a client in Yahoo landed a No 1 slot in a little over two hours (yup screen grabs as proof etc). Another technique involving one of the major Social Media sites and SLS got us 38 Page 1 slots for 18 terms.

A brief snippet here is that back linking is evolving and it’s all about providing “points of pressure” at the right time to get your terms / phrases ranked fairly quickly and then remembering not to “over cook it”

So anyway that’s where it’s all at, at the moment and I’ll be emailing Simple Leveraging members over the next few days with webinar details for the forthcoming trainings (free to all members with their membership in good standing) and the beauty of these techniques are such thay you can turn these round literally within hours in some cases for Yahoo and Bing and days for Google.

So for those of you who are looking to try and score some extra SERPS for the Holiday Season (Halloween and afterwards) it’s still not too late if you are smart.

In fact one of the senior Simple Leveraging members that I spoke to recently when we put this into close “Beta” was able to really “fuel inject” the process and get terrific results really quickly on behalf of his clients, literally within days in Google.

As usual if anyone has any questions they want to ask me then mail me direct at steve@simpleleveraging.com  or skype me at “sgsmorgan” (minus the quotation marks)

Till next time gang :-)

Is this Yahoo to Google?

A very good friend of mine forwarded to me the following article and it’s well worth a read:

http://www.businessinsider.com/is-google-the-next-yahoo-2011-1

I think I read several things into this article:

Firstly I am immediately reminded of Mark Twain’s comment:

“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”.

Secondly, much though I hate them (figuratively speaking, I’m not planning some sort of jihadist master attack on its employees or the Googleplex) they have too much cash, industrial muscle and actual weight behind them to disappear overnight.

I also think that somewhere inside that amorphous mass that is Google lies a fair degree of cerebral matter that will react to what is going on and either organically reposition itself or some of the newer smarter Search Engines may well find themselves gobbled up in much the same way Google did for Urchin Web Analytics that became Google Web Analytics and the way Google beefed up Google Videos by buying up YouTube.

Thirdly it also sends out a clear signal to me (if it was ever needed that) that as far as promotion is concerned folks run like hell from Google or more importantly place actual less critical importance on what happens in Google as I think as it changes and responds to other challenges it will become more inherently unstable and results will fly all over the place. I think the mantra has to be promoting for elsewhere (such as FaceBook and others) and then if the knock on of that has a positive effect on Google (which I think it will) then it’s pure bonus.

To me, gone are the days of perhaps obsessing on a daily basis as to what actually happens with Google SERPS and concentrate efforts elsewhere.

Lastly with regards to comments and quote about the so called “digerati” moving away and that perhaps being a portent of potential bad times on the horizon as far as Google is concerned, tell that to my wife when she’s next on the march for a new pair of shoes in a hurry and she’s trying to come to terms with “slashtags” or whatever and out of pure frustration it’s “oh bugger it, flip on Google”.

As an aside the piece that had me really in hysterics was one of the comments in reply to the Business Insider article where Michael Garofalo says:

I’m no fan of Google, but I’m even less of a fan of Blekko. The search seemed weak, with outdated results and a rather unimpressive name. Slash tags is a geek term, that will be tough to get mainstream users to adopt. Also, I don’t see a large amount of spam in Google search results. This just seems like a weak Google clone.

I think the way to beat Google is with better artificial intelligence…

Me: “Computer, what’s the weather going to be like today”
Computer: “Hi Mike, thanks for asking. It’s going to be rainy and cold, with a high of 49°”
Me: “Does that mean I should go to the mall today?”
Computer: “Yes, you’ll be fine. Best Buy is having a sale on that cable you were looking for.”
Me: “Oh crap, I just ordered it from Amazon.”
Computer: “That’s right, you paid $15 too much. Should I cancel the order for you?”
Me: “Yes, go ahead computer. I’m heading to the mall.”
Computer: “I can actually order the cable for you. There’s no need to leave the house.”
Me: “That’s OK computer, I think I could use some exercise. do you want to come too computer?”
Computer: “Yes, I would like that. Activating AI app.”

On the other hand who am I to say, as there is Eric Schmidt a multi billionaire looking round for the next Corporate Jet and me looking round for the next pair of shoes because the family mutt (one eyed with a bent nose but loveable) is sitting outside my office with an evil glint in his eye that says “walk me now or the next time you leave that office I am going to hump your leg off”.

Ho hum

Google Image Search – What have they done this time?

What in the name of god have they done this time?

OK here’s the theory, those of you who have been avid readers of this blog and my arcane ramblings over the past few years will realise I have no love for Google (oh god here he goes again on one of his “rants” I hear you cry?) because of the cack-handed way they always seem to deliver or roll out their “algorithm updates”.

How can such an organization seemingly filled to the rafters of so called intelligent people so habitually get it wrong but I digress, back to the theory.

Webmasters complaining about changes made by Google is nothing new. Every time Google releases a major algorithm update like Penguin or Panda, the outcry is everywhere. But, like it or not, that’s Google trying to better its algorithm, and ultimately improve its search results. You could also argue that any traffic one site loses, another gains. Somebody wins.

OK that’s the theory but funny it never seems to work out that way and especially with their latest developments regarding Image Search.

Now any good SEO Agency worth their salt will advise you that it is advisable to been seen almost everywhere for a client. The name of the game nowadays is all about branding and making sure that your name is found everywhere above all others so as well as making sure you rank in conventional SERPS you need to make sure you can be found in places like Google Blog Search, Image Search etc etc.

But….

The Image Search story is a bit different, however. This is not an algorithmic change designed to point users to higher quality images or more relevant image results. It’s a cosmetic change, and while some users may find the experience to be an upgrade, it’s clear that many webmasters have not welcomed the redesign.

 “55% dropped for websites with images…”

“My traffic has dropped to 1/5 of what it was before the new Google Images search roll out…”

“My traffic was cut by half overnight…”

“My image based website has lost 2/3 of the visitors after the change…”

“Google image traffic has dropped by 50-70% on my site…”

That was back in January. It doesn’t appear that things have gotten much better.

Define Media Group published some findings from a recent study on Monday (hat tip to Search Engine Land). According to the firm, you might as well spend your time in other areas of search engine optimization and online marketing, and not worry so much about optimizing for image search anymore.

“We analyzed the image search traffic of 87 domains and found a 63% decrease in image search referrals after Google’s new image search UI was released,” explains Shahzad Abbas. “Publishers that had previously benefitted the most from their image optimization efforts suffered the greatest losses after the image search update, experiencing declines nearing 80%.”

“In the eleven weeks after Google’s new image search was released, there has been no recovery – which means for image search, the significantly reduced traffic levels we’re seeing is the new normal,” he adds. “In the aftermath of the new image search experience, image SEO has been severely compromised, and we have no choice but to recommend deprioritizing image SEO when weighed against other search traffic initiatives.”

Of course, there’s always the chance that your images could turn up in universal search results on Google’s web results pages, but even then, personalized “Search Plus Your World” results tend to get the emphasis when applicable.

It’s all made even more interesting due to the fact that Google pitched the changes as good for webmasters, indicating that they would actually drive more traffic to sites.

“The domain name is now clickable, and we also added a new button to visit the page the image is hosted on,” wrote associate product manager Hongyi Li in the announcement. “This means that there are now four clickable targets to the source page instead of just two. In our tests, we’ve seen a net increase in the average click-through rate to the hosting website.”

“The source page will no longer load up in an iframe in the background of the image detail view,” Li added. “This speeds up the experience for users, reduces the load on the source website’s servers, and improves the accuracy of webmaster metrics such as pageviews. As usual, image search query data is available in Top Search Queries in Webmaster Tools.”

It’s possible that some sites are seeing more traffic from the Image Search changes, and just aren’t being as vocal, but there has been an overwhelming amount of complaints since the redesign, and this new study is not doing anything to defend Google’s case.

Of course, Google is all about placing users first (even over webmasters), and they’ll continue to do what they think is best for them. From a user experience perspective, the changes aren’t bad. But that’s little consolation for those who now have to find other ways to get their content in front of an audience.

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