Is Google Becoming the New Yahoo?

Funny thing about search engines and the way we as Internet Marketers look at them in terms of their ability to generate targeted traffic to our websites from which we make our income, via affiliate commissions or PPC or whatever other monetization methods we use. For the last decade or so, Google has been the main engine in that it provides the bulk of all search traffic. It’s the Big I Am of search engines and we do what we have to do (using SEO) to get our sites to figure as high in their index as we can to take our slice of that traffic pie.

Google are the biggest mainly because regular surfers prefer it and that’s because it is unfussy and free of all those annoying ads that other search engines seem to plaster everywhere to confuse your search experience. At least that’s how it used to be. Not so these days as more and more advertising is creeping onto that first page of the index. Some are in the form of paid text ads, which have always been there to some degree or other, but lately more of the shopping type of ads that take a slot in the actual website index. For affiliate marketers, these are the kiss of death because regular surfers will click these if they are searching for a product to buy in preference to our websites that also promote the same products.

Was a time when all we had to do was compete with other affiliate websites doing the same thing. Now we have to compete with Google itself. And we a all losing.

But don’t despair, because historically, we can see where their very success will also be their downfall.

Back in the 1990s, when the world wide web was still in its infancy and e-commerce was only just getting going in a big way, Yahoo used to be the Big I Am search engine. They’re above fold search page looked more like an advertiser’s paradise. Nevertheless, the owners of Yahoo made truckloads of money from all this advertising and all was well in their garden.

Internet marketers were few and far between and of course there were no affiliate programs or PPC to make money from in those days at least until Amazon appeared, so marketers made money from selling real stuff to consumers. They soon learned that you could game Yahoo’s index using on-site SEO tactics like spamming your keyword meta tags (amongst other tricks) and your site would rise to the top of the pile. All was well in the e-commerce garden too.

At the end of the decade, Google came along with their simple, almost ad-less engine and everybody started using it cause they liked NOT seeing all those ads. Yahoo’s happy harmonious garden died a slow and painful death as Google’s garden grew. Internet marketers had to learn new tricks to feature their sites high in Google’s index, but they soon figured out how to do that and made truckloads of money, especially the new breed of IMer who was making use of the new affiliate sales technique that Amazon started off. Of course, in order to maintain their supremacy, Google now had to wage war on spammers who were deluging their index with crap sites full of affiliate and other ad links and no content. The “algo”, Google’s search indexing algorithm was born and it has been a constant battle between the algo programmers and the spammers (and also the Internet marketers who don’t use spamming tactics) to keep the index as clean as possible of all the dross. lately, Google’s algo is winning and thin sites are losing the battle to big, authority sites.

Of course, we all know most of this and this was just a little history lesson for those marketers who thing the world is flat and there has only ever been Google. But wait, because there is a new twist to this saga.

Google is fast becoming the New Yahoo.

Why do I say that? Because Google is adding ever more complicating extras to its once simple search index pages. It is also adding more advertising. There has always been the few text ads down the right column, but more recently the top area of the page has contained paid text ads that look similar to the search results. they are designed that way o entice would be surfers to click these ads thinking they are clicking on real websites that have been placed at the top of the search results because they are the most relevant to their keyword search.

In other words, Google is doing exactly the thing it’s algo programmers are trying to stamp out from SEO savvy website owners. Google are gaming their own index by placing paid ads above real websites for surfers to click thinking they are going to go to the most relevant sites, when in fact they are going to sites that have “bought” they way to the very top of the SERPs. A bit like the sites in the big competitive niches that buy links to get to the top, which is a practice frowned upon by Google. Does this sound just a little like the pot calling the kettle black?

But it gets worse. In the last year or so, Google have also been placing “shopping ads” in amongst the top 3 or 4 places in their index. These are accompanied by thumbnail images of the products searched for by the keywords entered by surfers. Again, Google is gaming its own index by allowing these paid shopping ads to outshine real websites in the index, with the result that a lot of affiliate sales are lost to legitimate websites would otherwise garner from their place of trust as the top most relevant sites in the index. But where is all this going to end?

Google is becoming the New Yahoo. I already said that, I know. This is why:

The next unfussy and ad-less search engine to rise to the task will do to Google what Google did to Yahoo. It will happen if there is another company out there with the balls to take the bull by the horns.

And so it goes around and around. Probably.

In the mean-time those of us IM mavericks who the rest of the world will never understand will keep doing this stuff no matter who the Big Dog Engine is or where he cocks his metaphoric leg. We pit our wits against the system and try to make as honest a buck as we can.

If you’re a Brit, then you’ll get this next bit (Google “Swiss Toni” and you’ll get some YouTube vids if you don’t know who he is). Here is what Swiss Toni would probably say on the subject:

Gaming a search engine is much like making love to a beautiful woman. You work out what makes her tick, point your backlinks to the right spot and then SEO her brains out.

Make Money The Honest Way

Backlinks and the Article Junk Pile

Or How to Cut Off Your Own Nose to Spite Your Face?

There are rumblings and rumours scurrying around the place that a few of the MMO marketing set are aware of, but not too many, I believe. A few niche marketers such as myself are also getting wind of this, but its early days and would probably attract some unwelcome criticism from the SEO know it alls in any case, so I’m hedging my bets here.

Its all to do with the way a lot of marketers are going about getting those all important backlinks to their money making websites and blogs. With the new wave of article spinning software available at very affordable prices – MAR being one (yes, I’m unashamedly promoting it in my sidebar) and Ledger’s Best Article Spinner another – it has become way too easy to take a PLR or similar article on any subject you like, spin the crap out of it and the submit it to hundreds of article directories at the touch of a button. Voila! Instant backlinks, right?

Well, technically that is right. But that kind of technique is not what is known as “white hat”, or plainly speaking, legit. In fact it resembles the darker path that is otherwise known as “black hat” and that has always been how people get themselves into trouble. Okay, it works for now, but for how much longer?

Google are well known for tinkering with the way their algo counts those precious backlinks. The ones we all crave and desire to rank our sites in the index in order to get organic, targeted visitors who will, we hope, click our affiliate or PPC links and make us money. The thinkers and techies at Google like nothing more than to scope out where backlinks are being generated from and then taking a big stick to those places they view as black hat.

Don’t quote me on this, because it is purely my own opinion based on what I have seen happen historically and what I can see happening now. But I have a sneaky suspicion that Google will (if they haven’t already) figure out that they can alter their algo to discount links coming from article directories that are publishing “obviously” spun articles.

Now that’s not to say that originally written articles will get tarred with the same brush. I don’t see that happening because it takes time and effort as well as some research and knowledge on a subject to sit down and write a 500 word article that is worth reading and is informative. A backlink placed in that kind of article deserves to be counted, simply because the writer took the time and trouble to create a worthwhile addition to the web and provide a useful addition to Google’s index. After all, that is exactly what Google wants to see in its index – worthwhile, informative, readable, entertaining etc content that is original – and not that which is copied and spun into something that often closely resembles double dutch.

Ok, you don’t see too many spun articles littering the index, at least not in the high pages, but some get through and they are a major annoyance for anyone looking for something worthwhile to read. That’s not the issue here – but more for the fact that these spun articles do get indexed and that means the link(s) placed in them also count.

More annoying is the fact that legit sites are climbing the SERPs thanks to the ton of backlinks occupying tons of crap spun articles. How long do you think this will last before some bright spark at Google realizes that they can stop it happening by getting down and dirty with the algo – and we all know that the techies love to be able to work algorithmically rather than waste human resources checking all that badly spun bullshit. Shouldn’t be too hard to simply NOT index crap spun articles that are posted in the multitude of unregulated and clearly unedited article directories and the links in them would simply not be counted.

Hell, if I worked at Google and on their algo, I’d be laughing my ass off while I tweaked away until all those smug so-called SEO experts who have been dumping reams of worthless crap into article directories for months woke up one morning to find all their sites had taken a serious SERP hit because 90% of all their spin-generated backlinks had suddenly been ignored. The pleasure would be indescribable! Oh yeah!

What would that leave us with, I wonder?

It would leave us with those legit websites and blogs that got their backlinks the hard, but honest way! Yep, by writing good, original articles or by getting links from other site owners who liked what we wrote on our own sites so much, they thought it worthy of linking to. Which is how the algo and the SERPs ranking structure is supposed to work in an ideal world.

There will always be those who trade links and guest post in other people’s blogs. I don’t see anything wrong in that as a guest post must also be original and worthwhile – after all, who would accept crap spun articles on their personal, carefully tended and nurtured blogs? I certainly wouldn’t! Even more so if I believed it would be detrimental to my blog, in SERPs ranking or in visitor dissatisfaction, depending on what I expected from my blog. Yeah, I fully expect someone to come here and comment that I shouldn’t be so naive about the function of blogs. Sure I know what really goes on – I’ve been around long enough to know, so save your breath. This is mainly about my opinion on the probable future of spun articles and baclinks, in any case. Those of you that know me will know what I am really saying…

Also, such a change would pave the way for some more regulated and edited article directories such as – places where only legit, original content is welcome and there is a limit on the number and type of backlinks allowed. If its of any interest, make a fortune from the ads they place on your articles there, which is the trade-off for a backlink that is worth something. It could happen and I would welcome the change.

Pipe dream or wishful thinking? Both, but realities come from ideas and ideas come from wishful thinking that gets put into action.

Make Money The Honest Way Blog

One Rule For Us

Welcome back to Make Money The Honest Way blog. The title is totally non-SEO and to be honest, I couldn’t give a flying rat’s turd! I can only imagine how many “ordinary” bloggers like me felt upon hearing the news that John Chow has been allowed back into the Google index for his name and MMO keywords, especially those of us who have had sites de-indexed for far less than what he did.

Yes, there is certainly one rule for us and another for them.

Us ordinary folk have to go through the process of grovelling to Google via Webmaster Tools reincusion request, to which someone might take a few weeks to come and look at your site and maybe, just maybe let you back in. I have a couple of sites that are pretty damn clean that have NOT been let back in via this process, so I went ballistic when I read JC’s post on how he got his very publicly anti-Google blog back into the index.

No dicking around with re-inclusion requests for him. Oh, no. He gets to go straight to the main man himself, Matt Cutts, who actually tells him what to fix and then lets him right back in. WTF?

Are the rest of us such evil badass bastards that we don’t deserve the decency of a fair crack of the whip? Nobody tells us what the spam team are not liking about the blogs that we have de-indexed. We have to just do our best, hit and hope. My currently de-indexed blogs are NOT selling damn links and never have, they are NOT writing paid posts and never have, they are NOT spam, their content is all original, they are informative. So why the hell were they not re-included when I asked?

Nobody emailed me to say, “Hey Terry, you got a link in there to an undesirable site that you may not have realized. Take it out and we’ll index your site”, or “Hey Terry, looks like someone scraped your original posts and because their blog outranks yours, we decide its their content and you’re the plagiarist of your own content (ha’dy fucking ha)” or any shit like that. Not a bloody word. Nada, zip. I have to go through and check every link out, copyscape my own content to see who’s scraped it, in essence make sure my blogs are tighter than a ducks arse (that’s watertight). And I still don’t get let back in!

This is shit. Its unfair and it’s shit.

So maybe someone at Google likes John Chow, even after what he said about them, even after he spent nearly three years holding the finger up to Google and bragging how he doesn’t need their traffic to make money and letting his not inconsiderable readership know how much he holds them in contempt by waving his bare arse at them at every turn.

One rule for us, another for them.

Ok, don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with John Chow himself. I don’t much like how he does it, but he’s just another guy making a living from the Internet like me, so fair dues. You gotta what you gotta do.

The system stinks just like the system has always stunk. Its out to help the big boys, the old school, the established people at the top with scant regard how they got there or how they stay there.

When Google was just a new toy, the guys that launched it were visionaries and they were the little guy. They were out to show the big guys that they could be toppled and they did what they set out to do. Now they’re the big guys and they are behaving just like the big guys before them did, no difference, same arrogance and attitude. What changed?

Same as the infamous Mexican “revolutions”. Everyone hates the guys in power, so they have a revolution to get rid of them and put another load of guys in power. That power corrupts them and they become just like the previous rulers. Then another bunch of people start another revolution to get rid of the guys in power because everyone hates them and they put another bunch of guys in power. And they get corrupted by that power… ad nauseum.

“Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” said George Orwell in Animal Farm.

Let’s not let all that power go to our head, guys… remember the little guys! Some of us are actually on the level, not how you think we are because you’ve been lied to about us. Some of us, like me are playing by the rules but got labeled with the wrong description. And we’ve been a lot more compliant and respectful than certain bloggers have over the past 3 years.

So how about making that one rule count a little more fairly?

Make Money The Honest Way Blog

Do You Bing?

No, I haven’t gone round the bend, at least not today. Bing is the new search engine from Microsoft that seems to be a direct replacement for their “Live” search engine, but wrapped up in a nicer, more simple package and with some handy little extras that make it a very user friendly searching experience.

Hang on, why is he chirping about a search engine… and one owned my Microsoft at that?

Well now, normally I’d be finding faults especially if it comes from the MS stable. Let’s face it, Mr Gates might have got the world of PC users in a stranglehold that they can’t (or won’t) break out of, but when it comes to the Internet search traffic, the PhD’s at Google have well and truly kicked his extremely wealthy arse! Which is THE ONLY reason I’m chirping about a search engine that comes from the gold plated underbelly of the corporation that forces an operating system on you even if you don’t want it (and you still have to pay for it).

So what’s the beef? Google have become a monopoly and that’s bad for any business. Sure, their search engine is the most relevant and returns better relevancy than any of the others. But when you’re on the other end of that search culture, such as the creator of the websites that you are desperately trying to get their highnesses to rank in a decent place in said index, it’s damn frustrating watching your carefully constructed site that you write a ton of original content for by hand get relegated to the nether regions of the search pages top be beaten into submission by a bunch of crap sites that all happen to have more links pointing at them than you do. Or even more frustrating when you know you have more links than all of the sites above you but for some reason unbeknown to anyone, the majority of them are simply ignored.

And no, its not because those links come from duplicate content, or low authority sites or spammed blog comments or any of the generally accepted places that aren’t worth much. I mean links from authority sites that are (I believe deliberately) ignored to keep a site down and allow other less worthy piles of crap from rising above it.

But I digress slightly from the point of this post. If it has much of a point, that is.

Bing may not be an instant hit, or an overnight threat to Google’s mammoth leviathan. It may never take the bull by the horns and kick its arse back.

But in the longer term, it just might.

Why do I think that? Well, maybe I’m a little biased here, but where Google can be quite tough to crack no matter how legit your site may be, Bing seems to be a little kinder, at least to several of my own websites that are languishing in the realms of the forgotten in Google’s index for several of their better keywords. As a direct example, I’ve had a site that is targeting a fairly competitive keyword in the weight loss niche for the best part of a year now and while it has spent a fair whack of time climbing up page two of Google’s index (in US data centres, where it matters most), it keeps getting slapped down to page 6, where it currently resides. In contrast, Bing has placed the same site in the number two spot for the same keyword.

Why is that?

Who knows, but I would hazard a pretty educated guess that Bing is counting the site’s good, relevant content plus all of its quality links, whereas Google is not. That, for me means the difference between a good payday this month and just scraping by. The site does well with its monetisation when it gets targeted search traffic, and Bing is certainly sending it plenty of that.

So for now, at least, I will hope and pray that a real contender for Google’s crown is on its way and won’t fade out like a damp squib like all the rest seem to have done.

So Mr Gates, I (and my PC) might not much like your ever expanding Windoze, but I certainly hope your Bing has sufficient BANG to give the competition a decent run for its money.

Terry Didcott
The Honest Way