Saturday, December 6, 2008

Getting onto Google's hit-list

The saying is, "It's a Google World." And that's absolutely true. And if Google were always right, her omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence, would (probably) be a good thing.

But Mother Google is sometimes wrong ... and when she's wrong, she stuffs it up royally, causing businesses to fold, people to fall out of work; and someone, somewhere, whose back was already up against the wall, is eventually going to shoot him/herself, and the suicide note will name Google as the reason.

This is NOT, repeat NOT, a pay-per-post blog. I have not, nor have I ever, been a "postie." The only time, prior to this, that I have mentioned the term "postie" was in reference to an Australian postman, who is locally, colloquially, known as (you guessed) a "postie."

A pay-per-post blog is a blog where the blogger blogs about blogable subjects for which a sponsor pays him/her maybe $5 a pop for a couple of hundred words on a specific topic, with a link buried somewhere in it, and the link points to (duh) the sponsor's website.

One such sponsor is Tom Burton, who has used, or is using, pay-per-post advertising to get significant numbers of inbound links pointing at his Sweeney Todd website. It works. Let's say Burton paid $5 per link to 5,000 posties ... for $25,000 he would have so many links pointing to him, his Page Rank is #1 ...

Google is probably madder than all hell about this, because they're losing money hand over fist. THEY need to be the ones earning up to $100 per click (!!), via their pay-per-click advertising (Google Adsense) ... and THEY need to be the ones who sell the sponsored ads at the top of the search engine results pages, which put advertisers the #1 spot for about $1,000 a day. And THEY need to be in charge of page rankings -- THEY award the PRs ...

They also take them away. Page Ranking is a Google game. You play by their rules, or they hurt you. The hurt you bad.

Not surprisingly, a short while ago Google decided that pay-per-post was one of the world's greatest evils, and it had to be rooted out with Dominionist fervor. Their algorithms were changed ... they hunted down blogs that met the criteria:
  • Many different subjects, not just one;
  • One or several posts per day;
  • Lots of outbound links headed everywhere;
  • The word "postie" appears somewhere;
  • Blogger uses a deliberate "pinging service."
And apparently up to 100,000 folks on the pay-per-post network, who had been earning enough to stay off unemployment, were instantly screwed: their page ranking was "zeroed out."

No visitors = no click-throughs = no sponsors = no money = the unemployment line.

Worse yet, Mother Google is not always right. To put it another way, she's frequently dead wrong. Lots and lots of other, innocent, blogs, fit the bill nicely ... like this one. I write on every topic under the sun, with links going everywhere; I post daily, and can do a second post if something good happens. I talked, once, about the Aussie postie, on his postiebike. And, on the advice of an Internet guru, I used a third party service called "Pingomatic" to deliberately ping the blog registers, four consecutive days.

Before the crackdown on pay-per-post bloggers, The World According to Mel was getting between 30 and 90 visitors per day, and my mission was being achieved -- I don't blog because I love to type. I don't yack on here to massage my ego, or because I like the sound of my own voice! I blog to increase awareness of my work ... my novels. For every 50 people who land on the blog, one or two click through to the website, and one of them bookmarks it and starts looking at my free samples. This is the way -- theoretically -- you build up a readership base. Right? Right.

And along the way, some readers actually like to read the blog, because there's a lot of good stuff on these pages, and I'm over 200 posts now. Theoretically, I should be drawing about 150 hits per day by New Year.

And then --

Wham. You guessed. I've been caught in the snares set to catch the pay-per-post bloggers. My page rank has been zeroed out. The only people reading this blog are regular readers who have it bookmarked. Meaning ... yourself, and a group like you.

It is physically impossible for me to win a Google search, because no matter how relevant my keywords are (and they are bloody relevant -- deliberately designed that way), with a Zero Page Rank, no page will ever appear on any search results page, anywhere.

Since June 20th, when The World According to Mel went online, around 30 regular readers have gathered. Most visit once a week. It's enough to amount to about 4 hits per day, all of them from bookmarks. The only other visitors come from urls that have been emailed to friends by the 30 regulars, and a couple who click through from the website. There are no other visitors ... no one comes from Google or any other search engine. In other words, what should have been up to 650 visitors per week by New Year will be 28.

Well ... darn. I could put it in stronger language. There's absolutely nothing that can be done about this. Contact Google and tell them they've made a booboo, and you just know they'll put you on the blacklist forever.

So, what's the plan?

Obviously, you know I can't keep on putting up long, serious posts! It's taken 90 - 120 minutes per day, every day, since June 20th, to build this blog to the point it's at now. Am I angry with Google? Yes, I am. Am I thinking about what to do next?

Of course I am. The plan is this: I'll keep posting till New Year, and see if the system is self-correcting. If there is the slightest shred of justice, there will be a system of "check and fix" in place. I have no idea if there is, but IF this is true, then eventually a 'bot will be along, and will actually look at the blog, see the mistake, and fix my zeroed-out rankings.

If the problem is not fixed by New Year, then the best idea is -- transmigration. The World According to Mel closes; Keegan's World, or The Daily Keegan, or something, will open in January. The content of this blog can be salvaged in several ways. I can just repost everything to the new blog -- as soon as I know the old one has been thoroughly deleted not just from Blogger, but from the Google index (because, of course, if you post "duplicate" material, Google will hurt you, big time ... and until the old index is updated, a repost from an extinct blog will just look like a duplicate).

I can also zip each month here, and make it available as a webpage archive, which is readable by every browser except Netscape. I can also take the best posts and make a really terrific ebook, for $1 (guys, I got bills to pay; a little help here?? Thank you kindly).

So there are multiple possibilities, but also the purple flags are up: if Google does NOT fix the problem, and a new blog becomes necessary to get away from the utter garbage rating that has been assigned to this one without a shred of justice ...

What's to stop the shiny new blog meeting the exact same criteria, and instantly being wrongly categorized by the 'bot?! Now, this is a question I'm still thinking about. I don't have an answer yet. What might happen is that I wind up with several different blogs: writing ... politics ... entertainment ... publishing ... gay issues ... religion ... whatever.

I'm still thinking about it -- and I'll let you know what I come up with.

For the moment, I want to thank my regular readers VASTLY for your support. Do keep reading, because (!) right now you're the only ones who are visiting. Also, if you were in a mood to help ... email the urls for really good posts to friends who might be interested in the topics. And if you have a blog of your own, let's trade links.

Otherwise -- let's see what sense the Googlebot can make of the incredible mess it's made. I'm angry, because I have six months' work invested in this blog. I'm also angry that in order to make even more billions, Google has taken away the livelihood of a great many "little people" who blog for just enough to pay the rent and buy groceries. To me, that is evil. Its just plain wicked ... and poetically predictable in a world where money is replacing the air we breathe.

Ciao for now,

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