Today the Foodies’ Secret Blogger tells us what they think of Google.
Google can go to hell
In the fifteenth century people worried about being excommunicated by the pope. Today I’m wary of publishing the sentence “Google can go to hell” in case some virtual lightening bolt banishes me from cyberspace. Here’s why.
Reason one: They just shafted my blog’s search results.
Until recently, my blog enjoyed a sizeable whack of page views via Google referrals on a handful of posts alone. However since March 2013, Google’s latest “Panda” algorithm update effectively hid these posts from people who might be looking for them.
Fewer spammy sites show up in search results nowadays – we have previous algorithm updates to thank for this. Yet even though (I hope) I’m not rolling out duplicate drivel, my blog was definitely mauled by the latest Panda update.
Days after, page views for hero posts nosedived. Keywords previously on the first page of search results regressed to the third page. Keywords previously on pages two or three were buried deeper. Numerous bloggers have admitted to me they’ve had similar experiences this spring.
These sound like a page rank penalties. Reduced visibility on Google is why I hadn’t been selling follow links to SEO agencies. Yet my page rank remains unchanged.
My theory is, since the Panda update, exact match search results are being overlooked in favour of content that’s been +1’ed or shared on Google Plus.
I once attended a talk from a top US blogger. “Google does not play fair,” she said. Hell, I might have spent three years making £500 a month selling follow links.
Reason two: They blocked access to my AdSense account
With spooky proximity to a dizzy cartwheel inducing Pinterest traffic spike, Google suspended my Google AdSense account due to “invalid activity”.
I hadn’t knowingly done anything different apart from getting a ton of traffic (and subsequent ad clicks) from Pinterest that week. It’s an uncanny coincidence.
Google give you one shot to appeal against AdSense suspensions. If they don’t overturn their decision you’re out in the cold. Without optimism, I appealed.
Reason three: They said what I have to call myself
Three edicts from Google and I’m really starting to feel under the microscope. An auto-generated email arrives, the gist of which was: “We’ve noticed you’re not using your real name as your Google Plus name. Unless you change it to your real name within four days, we’re going to block your access to Google products (except Gmail) with immediate effect.”
If I can prove I’ve genuinely changed my name to the name of my blog they will accept this but otherwise I am ordered to identify myself using my “real” name instead of “promoting a business”. What if I blogged under a pseudonym? I obediently edited the username – losing access to Google products was too inconvenient to argue with.
Reason four: They’re shutting down Google Reader
The first three reasons are mere trifles against this horror. I’d have paid good money to keep my Google Reader account but they’re not even offering me this has an option. The sods.
My Google Plus account didn’t get shut down. Google did let me back into AdSense. Search engine referrals remain at floor level.
Right now I have two choices:
- Plough my social media energies into Google Plus and hope traffic referrals eventually recover.
- Sell follow links in posts because hey, I’m already virtually invisible in search results, how much worse would it be if I lost that precious page rank?
One action is passive, offering uncertainty of improvement over a long period but keeps one’s Google driving license “clean”. The second action feels like taking the risk of speeding tickets but offers hard cash immediately with vague chance of a fairly meaningless punishment down the line i.e. not being found by a search engine that doesn’t show you in its results so much these days anyway.
What would you do?
With thanks to our secret blogger. If you would like to rant, rave, beef or get something off your chest please contact us via the contact form, or e-mail Sally (Sally at fleaenterprises.com) or Helen (Helen at fleaenterprises.com) all submissions will be treated in strictest confidence.