Friday, February 10, 2017

Dead and Buried?

Well, it looks like, with its latest algorithm update, Google has finally succeeded in one of its long-term aims: killing The Sleaze completely.  For the past few months the site had been enjoying something of a modest revival in traffic, following an earlier throttling of  search traffic by Google.  but come the beginning of February, traffic from Google (which dominates web search) traffic started to plummet, culminating in today's disastrous lack of hits.  In fact since about six o'clock this evening, there has been literally nothing.  I really don't know what to do.  I don't want to give up after seventeen years online, but I'm tired of continually trying to regain traffic from Google.  I'm completely out of ideas.  If the site was suffering from what Google calls a 'manual penalty' (meaning that I've broken one of their made up 'rules'), I'd at least have an idea of what do this time.  But it isn't.  If it wasn't being indexed, for some reason, this could also be addressed straightforwardly.  But again, this isn't the case. 

Google is still indexing us in the main index, but it seems not to be ranking any of our stories.  Regardless of how relevant they might be to a search term, they now seem to be buried so deep in the results that nobody is ever going to see them.  Whilst this all seems to have taken full effect this month, there were warning signs even before this.  Most notably, stories were no longer being indexed in Google News.  But rather than simply kick us out of Google News (which would have been their prerogative), they have instead cravenly started coming up with bizarre error messages: the last half dozen stories have been 'too short', despite all being over a thousand words each in length, and one case of 'title not found', (hint, Google News bot, it's between the tags where it always is).  Now, it's been a long time since inclusion in the News index has generated significant traffic, but nonetheless, this sort of thing doesn't help.  I can't help but suspect that we've been caught up in the whole 'Fake News' nonsense and have been lumped together with all those sites churning out click-bait hoax news stories for punishment.  Which, obviously, is grossly unfair.  <b>The Sleaze</b> clearly identifies itself as a satire site, makes no claims that anything it publishes is true and, most significantly, carries no advertising, so even if we were turning out 'fake news', we wouldn't be making any money from it.  </p> <p> <br></p> <p> Whilst I make it sound like a personal vendetta against <b>The Sleaze</b>, the fact is that other satire sites also seem to be taking a hit, with some ceasing publication already.  It shouldn't surprise anyone that Google seems to be using the 'fake news' bollocks as an excuse to try and deliver a coup de grace to as much online satire as they can.  It's long been clear that they don't like satire.  Certainly, their algorithms clearly don't understand satire and have difficulty in classifying them.  The problem, for them, is that, to an algorithm, they appear to be news stories, but they aren't.  You have to be human to understand satire, to be able to make the distinction between a satirical story and factual reporting.  So, obviously, satire has to be shuffled off the web.  Unless, that is, it is a 'brand', like <b>The Onion</b>, which an algorithm can easily identify.  Anyway, I really don't know where we go from here.<br></p>



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