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Monday, November 19, 2007

Google Dance – But Who Pays the Fiddler?

November comes around and once again we all get our annual unwanted invitation to the Major Google Dance. It doesn’t matter if you had intended to join in the festivities or not as for all indexed websites; attendance is mandatory

The term Google Dance refers to a period of time when the algorithms are fine tuned in an effort to allegedly give a better result to searchers. As of late I am not so certain that this is the reason behind the updating. Prior to this last major GD the previous one brought us something Google likes to term “Universal Search”.

Universal Search, this was supposed to be something that was going to improve the quality of the results as it brought more options to the results such as Maps, Books, Video and the like. Interesting thing though is that all of these so called enhancements were nothing but a thinly veiled attempt to force feed us more of Google’s products instead of actually giving us results that we were looking for. Sure these things are all good and fine if you are actually looking for News, Books, Videos or Maps when you started your search but if you weren’t then these things are just in the way of you finding what you want.

Anyway, this latest Google Dance seems to be concerned with visible Page Rank. There are a lot of theories as to what the point is behind the down grading of the PR. Some folks think that it has to do with devaluing paid links in an attempt to quash the link economy while others think that this move was geared towards transferring Page Rank into something called Trust Rank.

Seeing as sites can easily influence search rankings through links the whole PR model is kind of useless so the theory is they changed it over to Trust Rank. Sell or buy links and guess what, you loose your trust rank. If you loose your trust rank well then you can’t affect other sites with your links. Problem is, how do you filter out the links on a website as paid links; who makes that decision and what if that person is wrong? The whole theory smacks of censorship to me

Regardless of the theory that you are following these days it seems that Google is up to something once again and as usual, we are supposed to accept it and for the most part it seems most of us do.

Over the years I have watched many a Google Dance unfold and as the dance continued to drone on, I would often go into the posting forums to read the threads concerning lost rank and SERPs. As I read the posts I always sat and marvelled at the fact that while Google was pounding out the tempo for their dances; it never was Google’s algorithms that were dancing, it has always been the webmasters who were the ones actually doing the dancing as they tried to stay in rhythm to Google’s cacophonic beat.

The only real question is how long are webmasters going to let this massive corporate entity rule their businesses? Google doesn’t care about your business short of wringing out as much money as they can prior to bleeding them dry. If Google was concerned about what actual people were searching for they wouldn’t force their products upon us with their Universal Search, they would let us look for what we want on our own instead of telling us what we want.

There is another rumour floating around out there regarding this latest dance, it has to do with how Google actually has to resort to hand editing the PR of sites that they suspect of engaging in the link economy. If this rumour is true then it should go a long way to discredit their so called “better search engine”. Strange how this better search engine can easily be manipulated through linking and the only way to fix it is by hand editing the results to weed out the paid linking dance crashers.

I don’t know about you guys but to me it seems that the Emperor is having a garage sale and we are all buying his “Used” New Clothes.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Social Book Marking – The newest form of MLM harassment.

It wasn’t all that long ago that people started to question why old friends and acquaintances were looking them up.

You’d be sitting at home doing something solitary like reading the paper or doing the crossword when you’d get a phone call. Answering you are surprised to hear that it is that old buddy from the 9th or 10th grade calling to “Catch Up”. A few minutes go by and after you have run the gamut of pleasantries and platitudes you politely ask “So what do you do for work now?”

“So glad you asked” is the response. “I recently got involved with (insert whichever fits, Melaleuca, Amway, Avon, Mary Kay, PrePaid Legal, Reliv and far too many others to list), and man do you ever need to take a look at this.” Some seductive numbers are offered in an effort to win an invitation to your house so they can show you how much money you can make. “Great, how does Tuesday sound?”

Tuesday arrives and everything looks wonderful until they tell you that all you have to do to make some serious cash is to sign up hundreds of people under you and before you know it, you too are making some serious greenbacks. This always brings the question… “Where am I going to find all of these people to sign up under me?” “No problem, just ask all of your friends and the people at the office and before you know it, the people you sign up are signing up people too and they are all under you making you money”.

Sounds easy right? Wrong. People are resistant to old friends showing up out of the blue with get rich quick schemes. In fact if you want to be removed from your social network of friends join an MLM scheme and see if the invitations don’t stop coming soon after your first few attempts to con your buddies into signing up under you.

How the hell is this like Social book marking you are probably asking? Well it isn’t in terms of buying anything but it is similar in how these vast networks of old friends and acquaintances looking you up and then constantly asking you to Digg this and add that to Delicious or write on my Super Wall. The good ones will actually provide their own page profile to Digg before asking but others expect you to do this for them as well.

I don’t know about you but it is getting so bad that I don’t even like to look at email and instant messages from people from my past any more. Hell, I am even starting to question messages from current contacts.

Another thing, what if I don’t like the content you asked me to social bookmark, what is the etiquette on that, if I say no will it somehow ruin the friendship if there was one to begin with? Or how about this, are the people within your social book marking circle book marking equally or are they building up a vast social book marking deficit that they will never make good on?

I don’t know about you but I for one can’t wait until Google completely removes the value of social bookmark links. Really what value can these social bookmarks have as I don’t even know anyone who uses them to find content on the web. If people aren’t actually using these social bookmark sites why do we have them? Is it because some socially inept programmer types think social bookmark sites are cool because they afford them a social circle even if it is only a virtual one?

Bottom line for me is this… If you are contacting me after all these years because you found my profile on Facebook, MySpace or LinkedIn and you thought you would ask me to social bookmark your content, stay in the woodwork, I am really not all that interested in making a positive public declaration regarding your spam content.

Just like the MLM pressure salespeople of old, I am not interested in your schemes to make you rich, more popular or socially acceptable. Similarly to multi level marketing, it doesn’t take much exposure to the social bookmark scheme to grow weary of the one sided nature of the old friend contacting you with the request to Digg my story.

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