I haven't moaned about Google and its destruction of my web traffic for a long time now. But as, today, it seems to have decided that I should get no traffic whatsoever, I thought that I'd abandon my planned post and instead make another public attack on the tax dodging, privacy invading, copyright infringing corporate behemoth that Google has become. The most ludicrous thing about the total lack of visitors today is that only a couple of weeks ago The Sleaze was enjoying a fantastic run of popularity. But, as I've noted before, these days there is always a price to be paid for such success: no bit of good fortune can ever go unpunished by Google. Part of the problem is that as soon as Google sees that you are gaining some kind of popularity, they decide that they are entitled to piece of that pie. Which, in practice, means that they start sending you e-mails offering all sorts of deals and discounts on adwords, implying that if you activate (or reactivate in my case) this service, you'll attract lots more traffic. They also clearly hope that you'll then start taking
their ads on your site. Either way, Google gets to make money from your site. Now, I once ran a trial with adwords and it brought me no traffic whatsoever. It simply isn't suited to a site like The Sleaze
. So, I shut down the account. But, as I've indicated, they keep coming back and trying to get me to reactivate the account.
Maybe it's just coincidence - as many SEO types keep telling me - but every time they make one of these approaches and I ignore it, my traffic from Google falls off of a cliff. And guess what? That's right, at the height of my recent bump in traffic, I got such an e-mail, which, as usual, I ignored. Since then, traffic has gone into rapid decline. Today is the worst day in over a year - tonight, for example, there hasn't been a single visitor since 18:44. That's more than three hours. Utterly ridiculous! To put that in perspective, only a few years ago, we were getting 15-20 unique visitors an hour. It seems clear, that in attempt to convince me that an advertising campaign is essential for the site's survival, my pages have been deranked from their most popular keywords and buried so deep in search results that nobody can find them. If the usual pattern prevails, in another week or so I might start to see some recovery as they accept that, once again, their bullying isn't going to work. I'm simply not interested in using adwords again.
Compounding this problem is that fact that Google is increasingly filling the first pages of search results with sites which aren't necessarily the most relevant, but have 'authority', in other words big corporate sites like Amazon, Ebay and the like. In the past, search terms like 'political satire', say, for which we ranked highly, seemed immune to this trend. Sure, such search terms don't bring much traffic, but is fairly steady. However, when I checked these results the other day, I found them dominated by entries from non-satire sites like the Huffington Post, which simply mention
political satire. Genuine satire sites had largely been relegated to page two or three, (we're still hanging in somewhere near the bottom of page one). If you run the same search on Bing, for instance, you'll find all the actual satire sites present and correct, as they should be. But as far as Google is concerned, the Huffington Post is an 'authority' site which, although it isn't a satire site, mentions the search term, so that gives it priority over more relevant sites in the results.
If this means that small, independent, non-ad carrying sites are killed off, well, tough, seems to be Google's attitude. As far as they are concerned, they are
the web and they get to decide what is and isn't relevant to your search. Which means, in practice, that they get to decide what the average web user can or can't see. Their near-monopoly in search means that they can effectively impose their vision of the web, which seems to be a glorified shopping mall full of bland and mediocre sites with scraped or spun content, on the world. This latest 'punishment' they've handed out to me has, to all and intents and purposes, killed The Sleaze
. There's no point in having a site that nobody is allowed to see. Trust me, if I relied upon The Sleaze
as a revenue source, then I would have been forced to fold it two or three years ago. However, it isn't a commercial site, so I struggle on, no matter how soul-destroying it is to see the traffic I spent years building being stripped away and original content going unread. If nothing else, sheer bloody mindedness means that I won't be bullied off of the web by Google. My site has been around longer than them and at least uses original material rather than ripping off other people's material to make money. So, come on you evil bastards - you've killed my traffic, but I'm still here, what are you going to try next? Bring it on, bastards.
Labels: Sleaze Updates, Technophobia