Google the black knight

I am putting SEO Enquirer on hold (possibly indefinitely)

Why?

Google the black knightInitially this site was just supposed to be me ranting about SEO with no one actually listening. I was reading a lot of SaltyDroid’s stuff  and felt there needed a similar lone voice in the wilderness, chronicling just how evil Google had become. and they are evil.

Successful corporations are a conundrum.

no matter what the initial intentions are of the founders, eventually (especially if they are floated on the stock exchange) they become soulless money making machines, that must compete and win. This is not just something that inherent in Google, it is a feature of all publicly listed companies.

The problem with Google is that it has for all intense and purposes become a monopoly and like all monopolies, it is now using that monopoly to stifle competition and creativity. That is the saddest thing about Google’s position in the world today. It once promised so much. A new way of doing things. A new way that companies could be and exist! I was all aboard the Google train in the beginning, especially when you compared it to the pariah of the day Microsoft.

Unfortunately like all corporations that gather a certain amount of momentum, the callous and insensitive humans amongst us, identify that there is money to be made and worm their way into the very fabric of the corporation and what was once a promising shining beacon and a possible different trajectory for a big company, was snuffed out. Replaced by the standard kill or be killed mentality that is inherent in all large industry today.

Anyway I digress..

For a long time that is exactly what happened here. I literally had only one reader for 3 months maybe even 4 months. Then something strange happened more and more readers started turning up. So what was once a place I could come to and dump my rantings about Google transformation from Sir Galahad to the Black Knight became kind of popular.

While the popularity was modest it was there and it brought with it something I wasn’t ready for. Some of my readers developed “expectations”  and as a result I felt a responsibility to these readers to provide content.

At this point I maid the decision to become a Google/SEO news blog. In my mind I felt this was a good way to give some of my readers what they wanted. News about Google and search in general but with some anti Google editorial I make no apology for this because up until recently most of the editorial about Google was either positive or as in Danny Sullivan’s case positive although hidden under layers of trying to seem unbiased.

“We all know you are biased Danny, you have to be or Matt Cutts won’t turn up to your next SMX event, we get it!”

Anyway in an attempt to give the people what I thought they wanted, this little blog, (which for all intents and purposes) could have been a private diary became a crutch. I was publishing articles everyday, sometimes up to five. While this may work for Barry at Search Engine Roundtable. I don’t get paid to do this.

While not getting paid to do something is fine, if it starts eating into client time, then we have a problem. I would consider my position in life comfortable. I still have clients that I try to do good work for and I don’t want this to suffer.

The other reason is that I have realised I am not that lone voice in the wilderness. There are plenty of good people doing the important job of letting the world know that Google is now evil.

Here is a list of the ones I have found.

  1. First place has to go to Aaron Wall from Seobook.com. He would have to be considered the pre-eminent Google critic in the SEO arena. Follow him on twitter and be kept up to date on the latest in corporate Google’s shift into total interwebs supremacy.
  2. John Andrews is a colleague of Aaron Wall and their banter on Twitter about Google’s current course is not to be missed.
  3. CygnusSEO is an ardent commentator and also has lively discussions with Aaron and John on Twitter.

Other notables (in no particular order) are Joe HallDennis GoedegebuurCarlos Fernandes and many others. Just search for #googleisevil on Twitter and you should find some people to follow.

 

So will the blog start up again? Probably at some future date. The site became pretty successful for a while there but for now…

 

au revoir

 

Matt Cutts pagerank

No Pagerank update for 2013 – Matt Cutts

Matt Cuts has just put out a video discussing “Pagerank”. In the video he touches on Pagerank updates and the lack there of. The particular question being asked is.

“Our website is not improving in Google PageRank despite having regular updates and foolproof content authorized by proven editors. What could be the reason for this? Kindly help in sussing out the issue. Thank you.”

What is more interesting is that on Twitter Matt made it pretty plain that there will be no Pagerank update until at least 2014.

I personally would be surprised if there ever was another update to pagerank. Personally I think Google is going to send it the way of the Dodo and make it extinct.

Why would Google want to stop updating Pagerank?

For a long time now I personally think Google regretted ever giving SEO’s and other online professionals access to the toolbar pagerank. I also personally believe they have been making it less accurate as time goes by. Why would they do this? Well to obfuscate Google’s real internal pagerank value.

Matt Cutts pagerankWe have known since the start that the pagerank value was never a true interpretation of Google’s own pagerank value. This value is rumoured to be very dynamic within the databases and indexes at this Search Engine. We might see a value between 0 and ten but Google probably has a different pagerank value for every site and webpage it has crawled.

So why does the SEO community bother with it? Well we don’t really have anything better and quite frankly although we do not take that seriously these days it still gives a little insight into what is going on within Google’s all dominating index. Although it is not the be all and end all in Google’s algorithm these days it does still basically allow for some gauge as to whether a site will rank.

More importantly us SEO professionals and online marketers use pagerank to discover back-linking opportunities. A link from a high pagerank site in your niche is one of those sort after holy grails when promoting your site.

At a baser level. The darker side of our trade (blackhat community) use pagerank as one the variables when deciding which blogs ans websites to spam.

So you can see why pagerank is something that Google must now regret ever letting out of the bag.

mugshot sites run adsense

Google Attacks Mugshot Sites With Penguin 2.1 But Still Allows Adsense Ads?

mugshot sites run adsenseGoogle, as part of it’s Penguin 2.1 update appears to have attempted to deal a blow to mugshot sites.

Mugshot sites are websites that will scour the web for mugshots of and information about people, put it together and publish it, with good SEO applied. Then they wait for the “mugshotee” to be made aware of it and contact them and ask to take down the photo and information.

At this point the owners of the mugshot site will attempt to extort anywhere up to a $1000 from the person who has had there mugshot published. For that one thousand or so dollars they will then remove the mugshot. However as is usually the case with these types of sites, the photo either reappears after a while or will move to a “new” site and the cycle starts again.

Google appears to have had a good attempt at removing the scammier mugshot sites from the serps. Some still do exist and seem to rank well (especially in Google image search) but quite a few have gone.

What would be nice if they forgot about the algorithm for a bit and just manually removed any site with mugshot in the url.

The thing that I find confusing though is that Google is quite willing to run adsense ads on some of these mugshot sites. Then again there is a whole bunch of seedier niches, that seem to run in that no man’s land between technically following Google guidelines but deal in what most would consider abhorrent subjects.

Let’s hope the algorithm gets tweaked up even further to remove the sites completely from the SERP’s and from Adsense advertising.

Penguin 2.1 released

Google Releases Penguin 2.1 Algorithm Update

Penguin 2.1 releasedA week or so ago we had the release of a completely new beast from the Google stable and this week an old favourite re-visits us. Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land is calling it Penguin 5 for some reason but hey, what ever floats his boat.

So does anyone really care any more what algorithmic creature Google unleashes on us? I am finding with my clients ad with myself for that matter that I no longer care. The sites that I have blackhat or whitehat and the sites my clients have (blackhat or whitehat) that were obviously going to be hit by one of these algorithms, were hit a long time ago. Most of these sites got hit in one of the penguin one iterations and any that seemed to be affected by Penguin 2+ have recovered within weeks.

Matt Cutts announced it like this

So Has Anything changed Because of Penguin 2.1?

As far as I can tell there has been little to no panic around the web because of this latest update. Netmeg started a thread on Webmasterworld that at the moment has about 27 posts in it. That is actually quite pitiful for a Webmaster World thread about any Google penguin update. Having said that I starting to get the impression that the webmasters at that forum are feeling a little punch drunk and are getting sick of talking about Google. If anything most of the discussion seems rather positive and a few mentions of partial recoveries are being had.

There was much more chatter about the Hummingbird release, I guess a new direction in the Google algorithm always allows for more discussion. Especially an algorithm that it appears is targetted directly at webmasters and pushing them from the front page of the SERP’s.

John Muller

Google Webmaster Tools Data Is Back

John MullerLast Monday we reported that Webmaster tools data was not being updated. John Mueller, arguably Google’s most accessible Googler, said that it was a bug and was going to be fixed.

Well John wasn’t lying, not that I thought he would. We like John here at “SEO Enquirer”. The bug seems to have been ironed out of the code and the Webmaster tools data for all accounts I checked is up to date. Interestingly it was this very topic that even had Danny Sullivan questioning Google’s motives. With the removal of keyword data in analytics, due to all searches moving from http to https.

Anyway, they moved on the issue very quickly, possibly because of Danny’s tirade, who knows. It is nice that it is back and we can go on with our lives with the very imperfect data of webmaster tools. For now!

Google plus authorship

Google Authorship Launches Within Image Search And Google Got It Wrong

Google authorship in image searchPierre Far who is a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google UK has announced at the latest SMX conference that Google image search now attributes Authorship to some of the images.

One thing that struck me straight away is that unlike many other Google products they do not try and exclude competitors. Many of the authorship links are links to Twitter accounts. This was quite a nice surprise because as far as I knew most of Google’s current authorship efforts apply to Google+.

So naturally I wondered if any of my images were attributed to my twitter account. this apparently wasn’t the case. I checked by doing a site command in google image search (site:seoenquirer.com). The third image to show was a story I did on Danny Sullivan’s embarrassing interview with Vic Gundotra. In that article I had linked to Vic’s twitter account. I deliberately did that because during the interview Vic let it slip that Larry Page ordered him to stop using Twitter.

Interestingly authorship for the images in that article had been attributed to Vic’s twitter account. I assume this is because of the afore mentioned link to Vic’s twitter account in the article. If this is the case it shows that this particular algorithm change is very unsophisticated and easily fooled. Which makes me wonder if your standard run of the mill Authorship can be fooled also?

It will be interesting if this turns out to be a bug and is pulled from image search in the near future or if Google will leave it this way. What ever they do I hope they keep Twitter as part of the mix and not move to a Google+ only solution.

As a side note I deliberately put three Twitter links in this article to see who would get the Authorship of the images, an experiment if you will :)

google-webmaster-tools-data-no-show

Google Webmaster Tools Is Showing No Data After 23rd September 2013

google webmaster tools data no showThere is a thread at Webmasterworld reporting that Webmaster Tools data has not been updated since the 23rd of this month.

I checked and they are right and it would appear that it something that is happening to all WMT accounts. I have checked 3 separate personal accounts and 2 client accounts and all have stopped reporting data after the 23rd.

Interestingly this is only about 4 days prior to Google’s 15 year anniversary celebrations and announcement of the hummingbird update. I personally don’t think it has anything to do with either of these events and is most likely just a bug. There is probably a problem with the role out of the update to historical data going back a year.

Google has been very slow in updating in a number of areas lately. The first that comes to mind is pagerank. Pagerank hasn’t been updated since February. Another that comes to mind is Google alerts. Google alerts was not working properly for months but was eventually updated and seems to be working properly for now.

Let’s hope Google gets its act together and fixes this very annoying problem. With the switch to 100% https for search and the corresponding 100% [not provided] keyword data in analytics, it would be devastating if this problem wasn’t fixed for months like Google alerts.

 

Update: John Mueller of Google has said Google is aware of the bug and working on it. [Forum thread]

Thanks for posting, everyone! The team is aware of the problem and working on speeding that data back up again. Thanks for your patience in the meantime.

Cheers,
John

Google search YouTube carousel

YouTube Carousel in Google Search

Google search YouTube carouselThere has been a report at Webmasterworld of a new Carousel or Knowledge graph implementation around the word songs at Google.com.

If you want to see an example of this type in the following words – Miley Cyrus songs

or you could try Imagine Dragons songs.

Basically any music artist with the word “songs” after it will bring up a carousel of all the songs by that artist.  (see image 1)

YouTube carousel at Google.com

When you click on one of the songs it will bring up a “Knowledge Graph” snippet about the particular song with a link to the song at YouTube.com. (see image 2)

YouTube carousel with knowledge graph

While I am seeing no Google Adwords at this point, monetization of this particular carousel will be easy when Google decides to do that.

I am not sure if this is part of Google’s Hummingbird update or not. What it is, is Google once again pushing to become the destination and not just the journey to the destination.

This it seems, is the future of Google and it isn’t a pretty one for webmasters no matter what Matt Cutts might want you to believe. Google is moving towards being a “Knowledge Engine”. Why? because that is where the money is. I personally think Google is moving towards being a “Content Engine”. Why?  Content equates to dollars and we all know just how insatiable is Google’s appetite for money. Imagine if all the money that ehow and ask.com currently make could be folded under Google corps umbrella?

Oh wait sorry, they must be doing this because it is better for their users. Sorry I stand corrected.

 

 

Google hummingbird update

Google Hummingbird Algorithm Update

Google hummingbird updateAs part of Google’s 15 year birthday celebrations today Amit Singhal revealed that there was an update to the Google search algorithm about a month ago. They have named it “Hummingbird” because they believe this update is fast and precise.

This update is directly tied to Google wanting to become a destination and not just the journey to a destination. It ties in with Knowledge graph and all those annoying carousels we have been seeing lately. Google wants to answer your question on Google.com using other people’s hard earned data so they can make money and those people can’t. It is apparently about answering questions and therefore searchers don’t have to “click on one of those blue links that make Google no money” (organic search links).

Am I sounding a little sarcastic and facetious? Well, that is because I am trying to. Where has the open and transparent Google that Danny Sullivan and his bosom buddy Matt Cutts keep banging on about? This was a major update to the algorithm and it was rolled out as quiet as you please. Not even Danny was made aware of it. August 2013 was a tumultuous month in the SERPS and I guess we now have an inkling of why.

Dr. Pete Meyers from Moz.com sums up Googles future in one tweet.

 

What is he talking about? If you do the search he is talking about at Google.com you will see that there is not even one organic blue link above the fold. Only Adwords ads and knowledge graph stuff. The content that google steals is placed under the ads with hardly visible grey links to the sites they stole the information from. look at the image below.



no blue organic links above the fold

Click to enlarge image!



Ok so the image isn’t strictly just about Hummingbird. This latest update just seems to me another step down that road that leads to a world where Google retains all the traffic and the webmasters that helped make Google what it is, are completely kept out of the picture.

So in Ahmit’s own words this is the biggest change to the algorithm since Caffeine was released in 2010. Caffeine was a total under the hood redesign, that really didn’t seem to initially affect rankings too much. Soon after the caffeine update we saw things like Google suggest. Hummingbird appears to be in that vane, some big changes under the hood and some minor changes out the front but the reason I am annoyed is that it is a change that helps power knowledge graph and carousels. Which as I said earlier I feel are an attack on webmasters.

It will help make conversation and mobile search better and some features like “comparison search” where also revealed. While this does not spell the death of SEO. I think we can safely say that Google is working hard to kill SEO.

G+ comments for YouTube

G+ Now Powering YouTube Comments

G+ comments for YouTubeYouTube and Google have finally announced one of the worst kept secrets in the GoogleSphere. Google + will now be powering all commenting on YouTube.

Why? Probably to get people using G+. G+ is a shocking place to hang out and quite frankly the great unwashed out there don’t want anything to do with it. Like I have said many times before we do see Google employee’s, Tech heads and SEO’s using it. However you still don’t see that every day interaction like you do at Facebook. Quite frankly I think Google will lose this race once again.

Forcing YouTube commenter’s to use G+ is however a good strategy. YouTube is the second biggest social network on the planet so by doing this Google can say when combining all their products that G+ now rivals Facebook. Which is a fallacy but hey it looks good in print.

Business Insider did an expose on Google, Sex and Politics and interestingly they painted Vic Gundotra who heads up G+ at Google as a somewhat conniving character and this is probably another win for Vic. Here is a quote from the Business Insider article :

“Gundotra, we’re told, would “lick the cookie” at Google by putting future products and features into presentations about Google+, long before his teams would be able to get to building them. For example, to YouTube executives, it might have made more sense for Google Hangouts to have been a YouTube product. But Gundotra claimed it first.”

I wonder if this was another infamous attempt by Gunotra to “lick the cookie”?

Although as I have said on many occasions Larry Page has headed down a G+ or die strategy. So I doubt Gunotra or Salar Kamangar, the CEO of YouTube had any say in it at all. This is something that has been coming a long time. Google has bet the house on G+ and as such, failure is not an option. Larry Page is not happy that Google had missed the Social boat and is doing everything in his power to bring Google back up to speed in the Social sphere.

So what product is next? Chrome? Imagine that you can’t use your chrome browser unless you have a Google+ account. Gmail? An interesting prospect. Google does nothing by halves when they do somehting they do it a 100%