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Flatbush Flashback

What I Learned About Google This Week

When I launched this website three years ago, I was unfamiliar with the term "search engine optimization" or SEO. I put together using a combination of common sense and my knowledge of editing magazines. I imagined the home page as a looking like a legal pad I'd keep on my desk and use to scribble down anything I felt was important. Whatever I was doing worked. From February 2010 to October 2012, the traffic to this site steadily increased. A good portion of that traffic came from Google searches. Then, last October, Google changed their algorithm and referrals from the celebrated search engine virtually ceased. It was only then that I learned about SEO, and the idea that, theoretically, certain things can be done to increase search traffic. It turned out that I was already doing all the things you were supposed to do--primarily updating the site frequently with original "content" that can't be found elsewhere.

What I wasn’t doing, however, was running Google ads. The ads, I thought, made the site look cluttered, slowed down its loading time, and at best provided a revenue stream that can be measured in pennies per day. This, I thought, is one big reason that Google no longer sends traffic my way. (My two Blogspot sites, Chapter 27 and Maiscott & Rosen, which I rarely update but which carry Google ads, both get more referral traffic than this site, which I update five times per week.)

So, I chose to live without Google ads, and to search for alternative ways to drive traffic to Then, the other week, I discovered that Google advanced search, which used to be able to find any combination of words or phrases on a particular site, no longer worked on this site. When I searched for information I knew was here, Google told me, “Your search did not match any documents.”

Yesterday I made the following discovery: Google advance search will still work, but only if your search terms include preselected “keywords.”

When I set up, I included a limited number of obvious keywords associated with my books. For example, if you were to search for “John Lennon” and “Beaver Street,” regular Google search will direct you here, and advanced search will take you to specific pages where those keywords can be found. But if you were to search for “Missy Manners” and “Orrin Hatch,” which are not preselected keywords, Google will neither direct you here nor acknowledge the existence of those words in an advanced search, even though this is probably the best site on the Internet for information about the porn star and her connection to the anti-porn senator from Utah.

A partial fix for my Google problem is obvious and will probably take about a month to take effect. This may sound basic to an SEO expert, but to me it was a revelation. Read More 
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Use Bing

Yesterday's critique of the Google search engine prompted a response from SEO expert Ladyjean, which I've run below as a guest post.

Another reader, meanwhile, had this to say about the Internet giant: "Google's neutrality is clearly fallacious;" "the company is complicit in facilitating, endorsing, and funding piracy;" and "Google owns YouTube, probably the world's most popular outlet for copyrighted video and audio content--content which is often shared without the copyright holder's permission." He also provided a link to an article on Vox Indie, which goes into more detail about Google's contributions to Internet piracy. I can say this much from personal experience: It's easier to find on Google links to websites that have pirated my work (and which carry Google ads) than it is to find links to this website.

By Ladyjean

It's a travesty. You are absolutely right when you said, “...the superiority of Google search may be the single biggest Internet fraud perpetrated on humanity in the 21st century.”

What can we do? To start, tell everyone you know in any way you can. Then, stop using Google, for anything. Stop using all of their services. Calling themselves a “viable” search engine at this point, is fraudulent. They have another agenda, and acting as though they are still, first and foremost, a search engine is a cover for what they are actually doing.

One thing they are certainly doing is playing God about who will and who will not be found in searches; and that means who will or will not be able to have a successful business or enterprise based on what comes up in a crappy, mostly misleading search when people use Google. And they have people (businesses and entrepreneurs) who need good rankings bowing down and cowering before them, because of the power they wield. I just ignore them, because I realized a long time ago what they are.

USE BING. I’ve been using it for years. And simply face the fact that no one has conquered the problems with search engine technology. Until some brilliant newcomer comes along with a burning desire to create an honest-to-God search engine that really works, we are stuck between a rock and hard place. Read More 
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The Google Fraud

The Daily Beaver is the single best online source of information about the porn star Missy Manners (real name Elisa Florez) and her connection to anti-porn senator Orrin Hatch of Utah. For a long time, Google and their mysterious algorithm acknowledged this. That's why my post of June 20, 2011, "21 Facts About Porn Star Missy Manners," has gotten more hits than any other post on this blog.

Then, last October, Google changed their algorithm. Since then, "21 Facts" has gotten no referral traffic from Google. And I mean zero. If you do a Google search for Missy Manners Orrin Hatch, you’ll get about 746,000 results, including links to one of my Twitter posts and one of my Facebook posts, but even if you scroll down ten pages, you’ll find no links to this blog.

Recently, I used Google’s advanced search feature to try to find an old blog post. I knew the exact title but couldn’t remember when I posted it. “Your search did not match any documents,” Google told me. I thought the post had disappeared, but after scrolling through about two-dozen blog pages, I found it. That’s when I realized that the once reliable Google advanced search no longer worked the way it should.

Which brought to mind a guest post, “The Google Myth,” by SEO expert Ladyjean, that I ran here soon after I began experiencing problems with Google. “The idea that Google is this great, amazing search engine is a myth,” Jean said. “You DO NOT get the best results.”

I had no doubt this was true when I posted it four months ago. But based on what happened with the advanced search, I’d now like to suggest that the superiority of Google search may be the single biggest Internet fraud perpetrated on humanity in the 21st century.

Theories abound as to why Google is doing whatever it is they’re doing. Many of them have to do with Google ads—if a site doesn’t carry them, then Google won’t direct you there. But nobody outside Google knows exactly what’s going on.

The questions people should be asking are: What, if anything, can be done about Google? And where do you go for reliable information? Unfortunately, there are no answers, though one can hope that there will be, sooner rather than later. And all anybody can do until then is be aware that when you’re searching for information on Google, the results often leave a lot to be desired. Fortunately, some cities still have brick-and-mortar databases. They're called libraries. Read More 

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The Google Myth

Last week I posted two pieces about recent problems I’ve been having with Google and their page-ranking system. In response, I received a number of comments from people familiar with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), as it’s called. One of those comments, from Ladyjean, a website designer and SEO expert who runs a John Lennon site, Absolute Elsewhere, was especially interesting and deserves wider attention. So today, I’m running it as a guest post.

By Ladyjean

I have a couple of other things to say about the effectiveness of Google in general.

1) It’s very unlikely that anyone will be personally “picked out” by Google for punishment, unless they are breaking all the rules that Google has set up about how people should construct and code their websites. But in regard to that, I have to ask, who died and made them the ruler of what everybody can or cannot do on the internet?

If you do break their rules, you may not get a good ranking, and yet, no one in the SEO business is actually 100% sure if that’s really the case, because spammers get away with doing that all the time. That’s the problem: Nobody really knows how Google determines anything. In that regard, Google has behaved like a tyrant who is determined to control how people design and use their websites (or blogs, etc.), and they have succeeded in periodically tormenting and abusing anyone who wishes to do anything of value on the internet, and even worse, they have decided who the winners and losers are going to be based on their rankings.

2) The initial idea that Google was (and is) this great, amazing search engine is a myth. They have been completely fooling the world about this since they achieved their major takeover of internet search, which was quite a few years ago. You DO NOT get the best results on any Google search you do, but no other search engine is providing that outcome either, because it’s impossible to achieve that result. The internet is too massive. When you do a search, Google says it has found, say, 653,000 results for your query. But you will be lucky if they actually provide you with even a thousand of those links.

Because of my profession and personal interests, I have done a lot of “deep” searching on the internet, sometimes as far as it is possible to go (dozens of pages) and the end result is disturbing to say the least: You get a handful of what is actually on the internet, and the truth is, you can’t get to the rest of those links, at least not with a search engine. Google is one of the biggest shams in modern high tech history.

There, I said it and I feel better. Read More 
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Heck of a Job, Google

I knew there had to be somebody out there who knows more than I do about Google’s mysterious ways, and I’m happy to report that two readers well versed in the matter did, in fact, weigh in with their thoughts and suggestions on “search engine optimization” (SEO) and how it affects Google’s page rankings.

Debra Wheels had some good tips about content, links, and “submitting” this site to Google. But Ladyjean, a website designer and SEO expert who runs an excellent John Lennon site, Absolute Elsewhere, had some far darker things to say about the company that’s come to monopolize the internet. Referring to her dealings with “evil Googleness,” she said, “If for some reason you’re not getting good rankings (i.e. traffic) from Google, there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.”

Whatever the case, I’m always glad to hear from readers, and even if there is nothing I can do, there is some comfort in knowing I’m not alone.

But I would like to offer a theory that you can chew on over the weekend: In addition to this site, I also have two Blogspot sites, courtesy of Google. Chapter 27 is dedicated to my John Lennon bio, Nowhere Man, and Maiscott & Rosen is a site that my wife and I use to post reviews when we get the urge. Both these sites carry Google ads, which generate pocket change for me—50 cents on a great day—and probably about a hundred times that amount for Google, which for them is probably the equivalent of finding a penny on the sidewalk.

Perhaps my sudden and mysterious Google problem stems from the fact that this site,, which used to get far more traffic than the two Blogspot sites combined, carries no advertising. And Google is in a petty and vengeful mood because they’ve had to lower their advertising rates for the fourth consecutive quarter, and their stock took a jaw-dropping eight percent dive yesterday.

Is Google punishing me for not carrying their ads?

If that sounds like a conspiracy theory, I’d like to point out that this scenario is similar to the main subplot of a recent episode of The Good Wife. In “Two Girls, One Code,” a Google-like company consigns to page-ranking oblivion another company that refused to buy their ads. And they punish the lawyer handling the case by suggesting “disbarred lawyer” when somebody types his name into their search engine.

When a storyline like that becomes fodder for a hit TV show, you can safely assume that Google dissatisfaction is widespread and reaching a tipping point. And I better assume that if I don’t watch my mouth, the first thing you’re going find when you search for me is pirated editions of my books. Read More 
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