Monday Tip – Google Doesn’t Care About You

By Mark / April 23, 2012

I had a totally different blog post planned for today but a number of things came together at the same time and it would be foolish not to highlight them. They are very important and all connected.

The first was a post in the WordPress Goldmine Forum by one of our long term members Paul Nichols who pointed out a fiver gig that offered to sent 67,000 poor quality links to your competitors.  (probably the same gig that offered to send you 67,000 quality links before the last algo update!)

I know what you are saying…. Google says that competitors can’t harm our rankings.

Do they ?  Really?

Read this from the same thread

Just so that’s clear: A competitor CAN build crappy backlinks to your website, and hurt your rankings. And Google now admits this.
Look how google have adapted there guidleines:

 

“Can competitors harm ranking?

 

There’s nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index. If you’re concerned about another site linking to yours, we suggest contacting the webmaster of the site in question. Google aggregates and organizes information published on the web; we don’t control the content of these pages.”

 

Then, in November, it got “slightly” modified… just a TINY fraction too:

 

“Can competitors harm ranking?

 

There’s ALMOST nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index. If you’re concerned about another site linking to yours, we suggest contacting the webmaster of the site in question. Google aggregates and organizes information published on the web; we don’t control the content of these pages.”

Wow, what a difference one word can make! So hang on, saying “almost nothing” means “can”, no matter which way you spin it.

 

Then on March 14th, they caved.

 

“Google works hard to prevent other webmasters from being able to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index. If you’re concerned about another site linking to yours, we suggest contacting the webmaster of the site in question. Google aggregates and organizes information published on the web; we don’t control the content of these pages.” -http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66356

 

In case you missed it, the key difference is in that first line:

From “nothing” to “almost nothing” to “perfect political answer”

 

Now do you think that a competitor can’t harm your rankings?

With gigs like that available on google you really had better not be relying on Google for your traffic. Google is no longer a search engine they are an advertising agency with shareholders, 2 things matter profit and the war to stay bigger than Facebook. That means like every war there will be collateral damage and thats us and our sites.

So whats the alternative?

Well one alternative is BRANDING…

Jonathan Leger pointed out in a post over the weekend that many people go directly to Amazon when they look for a product rather than Google.

 

Well, my friend, Google is only sending your site “walk-in” business. It’s your job to convert those walk-ins into long-term, repeat customers. Do that enough times and it won’t matter if the search engines got shut down by the government. You’d still be in business, because you have a brand. People would still be typing your domain name into their browsers’ URL bars, and you would be fine. Your revenue might take a hit (as would Amazon’s), but your business wouldn’t shut down. Source

Until last year I thought my biggest screwup in IM was not building a list sooner, I was wrong about that as well , my biggest mistake was not branding myself sooner. (not literally!)

I actually mentioned this in a forum chat and branding expert Martin Jelsema replied

“Mark: You’ve been branding all along, you just weren’t in control of it, and it may have not been consistent, unique or compelling. Now you’ll make branding work for you!”

That my friends is the key!  Everything you do online can add to your brand but you need to be focussed,  You need to be consistent, unique and compelling.

How many of you found this post via Google?   Not many!

In January this year I set out to consolidate my Branding and start to drive traffic to this blog, below you’ll see 2 screenshots of the unique traffic from December and from the first 22 days in April. Apart from the obvious increase in traffic you’ll see the percentage of people coming from google has dropped significantly. I really do want to get that figure to be below 10% while the number of visitors rise on a monthly basis.

 

Traffic December

December Traffic

 

Traffic April 1st -22nd

 

It doesn’t matter if you have a micro blog about acne, or an authority site about Finance whatever niche you are in you need to start branding yourself and remove yourself from the threat of googles frequent changes.

Start today!  I’ll come back to this topic a bit more in the coming weeks but the first thing you can do is make sure you use the same avatar on every site you have, every social media account and every forum you visit. Also decide if you want to be the guy with the woody woodpecker avatar or do you want people to see the real you?

About the author

Mark

https://plus.google.com/me/posts

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34 comments
paul nicholls - April 23, 2012

I think google definitely need to improve there game for sure. A few years ago I had a terrible thought of

“what if a competitor could actually build bad links to your sites to purposly harm your rankings”

well the time has now come and the totally unbelievable scenario has happened

Its absolutely obsurd

This has to be the biggest flaw a search engine could EVER have, for competitiors to be able to manipulate there competitors rankings, its disgraceful

Google had better get there act together fast otherwise things are going to get awfully messy and very fast

paul
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Peter - April 23, 2012

Hello Mark

That’s curation for you! Thanks for the time you invested to find and publish this insightful post with contextual comment for your readers. Much appreciated.

I completely agree that to rely on Google as the prime source of traffic is ‘not a good idea’. I will follow your lead, review all my blogs and sites and consider how branding will help to confer that all-important author status.

Best wishes

Peter
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Gill - April 23, 2012

Definitlty food for thought. It does seem harder and harder to please Google. So getting traffic from other sources is a good idea.
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Ed - April 23, 2012

Hi Mark,

The “reverse effect” backlinking is something I would never have thought of
so I am grateful for that knowledge. As you say branding is the thing and
something I am gradually doing on my sites so this is a timely reminder to
do more.

Always going the extra mile pays off

Thanks for all your advice,
Cheers,
Ed

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Colin W - April 23, 2012

Interesting article Mark. I think Google’s latest statement is covering its status as a platform and not a provider of information through its search facilities. I believe that Google can sieve through ‘junk’ links and any such targeted attack on a website will, I believe, recover once Google has discounted these factors.

However, we should also be looking towards and understanding semantic search, which Google and other search engines such as Bing, Yahoo! and Yandex have started to employ emphatically recently. Through on page mark-up, such as microdata, within our sites it will make it easier for users to find relevant information on the web as the mark-up will explain to the search engine bots exactly what the information on the page is precisely about without them having to ‘guess’ to some degree.
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Mark
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Interesting thoughts about semantic search, I know yandex are way ahead of the game in that field. I just wonder if Bing can make inroads into googles dominance.

Maybe they can… just look what Chrome has done to Firefox in the past year.

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Neill - April 23, 2012

I’ve always thought that competitors could find a way to try to hurt rankings if they really wanted to and some have certainly tried in various ways such as sending a ton of poor quality links. Up until recently it just seemed to result in the majority of the links getting “devalued” so didn’t cause much of a problem most of the time, but with the so called quality improvements to the algo’s over the last year maybe things have changed for the worse.

I agree with your points about branding and admit that I have been a bit slow on the uptake there as well but as you say it’s not good to be too reliant on Google or even any one source of traffic. I think this also applies to monetization when you take into account people’s problems with Adsense, Adwords, Amazon and other accounts getting suspended.

Diversification is now more important than ever if you’re in this for the long term.
Neill recently posted..Keyword Blaze Pro – Is This The Best Keyword and Niche Research Tool Currently Available?My Profile

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Paul Conway - April 23, 2012

Hey Mark

I have only joined you company in the past few weeks after being referred by a good friend. Your article really resonated with me. The reason is I have always use the same picture in all my branding be it on my website, fb, twitter etc.

I just feel that we need to take our power back from Google :) Looking forward to many more great articles.

Best Wishes
Paul
PS. on a lighter note the woody woodpecker comment had me in stitches :)
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Mark
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Thanks Paul,

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EdK - April 23, 2012

I first had very serious doubts about Google many years ago when they accused me of breaking a rule they hadn’t made yet! Then they hit me with a serious ban for that funny ‘violation.’

It was only a matter of time before they over-reached themselves. Let’s be straight about it, it’s their website they can make any rule under the sun moon and stars that they like. Simple.

But their stance now is irresponsible. All the difficulties they’re causing us? They’ll get it back.

They’re beginning to cry foul already. (In relation to Facebook).

They ain’t seen nuthin’ yet. It’s how life works, seems to me…
EdK recently posted..Revealed The Truth About The Fastest Weight Loss Programs You’ll MeetMy Profile

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Stef - April 23, 2012

It’s not a woody woodpecker, it’s a blue penguin… :)

Congrats with your visitors trend this year!

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Mark
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:)

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Barry - April 23, 2012

Mark, your brand was solid with me the first time I got a look at WordPress Goldmine. To me, that is still the gold standard when it comes to demonstrating a method of making money online and taking the careful time to respond to individual enquiries within your forum.

To me, your model and brand has/have been best from day one. You can call me for an endorsement any time.
Barry recently posted..Automated Article Syndication 2012My Profile

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Mark
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Thanks barry… appreciate the comment!

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Wendy Owen - April 23, 2012

Thanks for the post Mark

Google has definitly lost the plot and is interested only in making money. I am lucky that my sites are in other niches and not IM. Wonder where it will all end?

Wendy
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Mark
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Wendy, I personally think that non IM sites are more at risk than the IM Niche.

If you can easily rank well for a keyword you can be much more easily removed from that position by negative seo. Google will be looking out for negative seo tactics BUT I suspect they will focus the attention on the big money niches.

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Jeff the Entrepreneur - April 23, 2012

Thank you Mark. Agora model, the biggest so far in online marketing business, is all about building a list. I guess they have been so smart to figure out these things sooner than the Google Panda and the rest. Thanks a lot for this article.
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Rita - April 23, 2012

Makes me sick. Google is changing the field to where anyone on top, is going to be at risk, and the black hatters will be the ones who succeed. Now decent sites that had decent links, will suddenly be bombarded with porn links, and the ones making that happen will rise to the top. Nice going Google. Just making the internet a better experience for all of us.

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victoria - April 23, 2012

There’s another good post about this “negative SEO” thing here – http://www.affhelper.com/whats-the-point/. I have no words for the people doing that kind of anti-optimization to their competitors.

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Bill (LoneWolf) Nickerson - April 23, 2012

The change from “nothing” to “almost nothing” reminds me of the entry for Earth in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe. It got changed from “harmless” to “mostly harmless” 8=)

I guess this is a reminder that we need to keep our options open for traffic sources. And branding plays a key in that, whether you’re building a list, a Facebook fanpage, Twitter followers, etc. People need to have a picture in their heads of what you can do for them regardless of how they find you.

I know that you’ve built a reputation in my mind, Mark, of providing thought provoking, honest and relevant information for the IM world. As Martin pointed out in the quote you provided, you have been building a brand. Even though it may not have been intentional up to this point, you’ve got a solid base to work from in my opinion.

One thing that I’ve noticed out there, is that a lot of IM pro’s don’t use their real identity for the niche sites they set up. While I’m not against pseudonyms (as long as it doesn’t have a fraudulent intent) I think that it makes building the brand that much more work. You’re building several independent brands at once.

But can sticking with your real identity (or at least a single identity) online come back to haunt you? Does it depend on the niches that you get involved in?

Stuff to ponder. I wonder if any of your readers have had experiences where a pseudonym would have helped or vice versa.
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Mark
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I have to admit that there are still a couple of sites I have where I’ve used a pseudonym, but I have had them for a long time. Recently I’ve been sticking to creating sites that I am happy to use my own name on.

If I feel a pseudonym would be better I don’t build it.

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PotPieGirl - April 23, 2012

Mark – you have an excellent name in this business! While we probably didn’t realize we were ‘branding’ ourselves at the time, it still happened – and you are an important resource to our community. Thank you for that!

I don’t know if you’ve popped by my little corner of the internet, but I recently “broke up” with Google. Like you, I’m not happy with the way things are going or the gut feeling I am getting about it all.

An analogy I used was if each percent of your traffic sources was like a share of your business’s stock. Why in the WORLD would you give anything you can’t control more than 50% ownership? Makes no sense at all!

Regardless, you are in good shape, kiddo…just keep doing what you’ve always done and you’ll be just fine!

All the best!

Jennifer
~PotPieGirl
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Mark
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Hi Jennifer, Thats a great analogy you used in your article.

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Lynn - April 23, 2012

Do you advise using your same picture/name/avatar on blogs with different topics?

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Mark
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If it’s appropriante and not a conflict of interests yes, my view is if i can’t use my real personae then do i really wan tto be in that niche… but I appreciate not everyone wants to think like that

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Stef Reply:

“my view is if I can’t use my real personae then do i really wan to be in that niche…”

That’s quite a lot food for thoughts:
Some person that is in the real estate niche, suddenly goes in reality TV and then sells Ice Cream marketed under the same name: “Donald Trumph”. Where should one draw the limit of riding their name in yet another niche?

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Mark
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I don’t see that as a problem but i really can’t see myself selling skin are products and womenens weightloss undert he same name.. But golf, social media, IM and motorcycle parts would be perfectly fine as i know a lot about them.

Stef Reply:

Thanks Mark, that makes perfect sense: market yourself in the areas where you have decent expertise.

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Chikara - April 27, 2012

I agree with your sentiments. Anything I can do to be less dependent on Google, I do it. Having them out of my life altogether sounds great! And I don’t just mean by being banned.
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Sara - April 27, 2012

Hello Mr Mark

I really liked your article while I’ve been thinking of this situation many times..I am a new blogger with a lot of enthusiasm but I am concerned of what will happen, if Google collapse for a reason, and if the audience that you created will be vanished the next day.Branding is a good way to be established in the online market and also feasible over the years.I would be glad to know more things about this issue., and how branding can be achieved in a good way.Thank you for sharing.
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Young - April 27, 2012

First of all I would like to say superb blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your head before writing. I have had a tough time clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out there. I do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be wasted simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips? Kudos!
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Mark
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I usually outline the post in my head before i start, I find going for a walk or laying in the bath helps me focus and come up with ideas for posts

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Sue - April 27, 2012

It seems to be getting scarier and scarier out there on the net. Google takes more and more power. Their new policies for tracking everything we do on the internet is frightening too. I’ve been focusing more on Bing definitely less on Google. I don’t know if it helps or not but I feel like I’m doing something to protect myself.

As for Branding, I keep hearing about it all over the internet and I guess its more important now than ever. Its just hard to figure how to brand when you have 30 or more sites. Do you brand each one individually or tie the sites together for one single brand?

Branding is a beast I haven’t come to understand yet, hell I’m still trying to learn the whole internet affiliate thing. Seems like as soon as I understand a little, the rules change and I have to rethink it and change course.

I am coming to understand that that is the internet business, there is no set rules its forever changing. I had not gotten around to the back-linking part and that turned out to be a good thing. I haven’t done the “build a list” yet, but that’s one part I guess I’d better start learning and now we’ve got branding and the constant changes to Google algos. There is just not enough hours in the day to learn it all and then act on it. I think I lost a bunch of brain cells on the way to getting old. hmmm

Just keep teaching us Mark. Thanks for all you do!
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john bocata - May 6, 2012

I also agree not to put all your eggs in google search engine rankings algo. If you can be hit by bad linkbuilding done by one of your competitors it’s better to diversify your sources.
This can be done by spreading your brand through twitter,facebook, ezinearticles and many other authoritive sites out there.Like Thompson mentioned, use google to get visitors and let those visitors come back for more interesting posts or products they can use. Each new visitor can be a recurring visitors by just typing in your domain name in browser.
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