A few weeks ago I posted a story called, “3 Steps on the Stairway to Google Heaven.”
As a complete turnaround, I’m calling this post, “The Chute to Google Hell” after I experienced an illuminating Meetup at the Pint Pub with an interesting gentleman named Gary Lee.
Gary’s the CTO at the Groupon-alternative, DealCarrot.com, and has worked in IT for the past 15 years. He spoke with us about search engine optimization, and Google, which he did not characterize as the benevolent search god that I previously described.
In this transcribed interview, Gary does not mince words when he says, “Google is evil.”
Here’s how Gary suggests getting an accurate picture of how you rank on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP)
“When you’re trying to look at your search results, make sure you’re not logged into Google. In the upper right hand corner it says sign in. Just because it says that it doesn’t mean you’re signed out. Google tries its best to make sure you stay logged in all the time. Google is an evil company and its lying to you.
“When you click Sign In, your information will be pre-filled in a box and it will say sign in, or say connect, or log out and login as another user. What does that mean? That you’re still logged in. So they’re trying their best to confuse the average user and trying to predict all the things that it thinks you want. So you want to make sure you’re physically logged out.
“Then you want to go in and do a random search. There’s a little cog on the right-hand corner to see if web history is switched on. Chances are it is, so turn it off. Then when you do a search go into your settings and make sure you don’t have Predictive Search coming on. Switch that off in Search>Settings. So, change History, Predictive, and Log Out.
“Then, do a search and your results will be totally different from before. You’ll know where you really rank. But even then you won’t know for sure. Google will still try to tailor your search to your local GPS position of your search. But most of the time you’re getting a pretty accurate result at that point.
“And, you want to clear your cookies on your browser. You can go in and search your cookies and cache for Google and only clear your Google results so you don’t lose your other stuff.
“Google wants you to use all its stuff all the time. Create a Google Plus page and use that as the author of your blog if it’s not already tied to your pages. Then, you can go into wordpress and add Google Authorship to your page. (You can use your gravitar.)
“When you search Google, what should come up is a little image of you next to your page and that will determine if your Google Plus page is assigned to it.
“When Google assigns that, it’s going to say so-and-so is linking to the Google Plus page and will trust your blog for authority on content, so its going to come full circle because its going to trust you as a partner.
“What might end up happening is if you get a very good author putting something on your site and Google is going to say we trust what this author says, so we’re going to give your site a better look than we would normally because of it.
“If you’re posting on other people’s blogs, you’re going to use that authorship as much as possible because Google’s going to start to trust what you have to say.
Do Follow/No Follow Links
Things got scary when he started in about No Follow links, which prevent Google from penalizing your site for passing paid links.
“The idea of Do Follow and No Follow is only for Google. All your internal links always should be Do Follow links. But if you’re linking to another site, Google will see that and consider it to be a paid link. A paid link is something that has been used for the past 10 years to manipulate search engines.
“On your blog, if you say, ‘I was talking to this lady the other night, check out her site,’ and you linked a Do Follow link, Google will look at your website and say ‘what the hell does this have to do with this, and did she ask you to do that?’ Google uses that as an algorithm to see how many sites point to your website.
“How Google used to determine web site ranking is by how many sites link to you, which shows your popularity. Then it used your keywords and the anchor text to determine what people were saying about your website. When everybody realized that was going on, you’d go to someone and say ‘write about my service and use this link’ and use that to game the system.
“When you use the No Follow tag – which indicates to Google that whatever you’re writing about don’t allow it to pass your authority juice – it’s not saying don’t follow the content. It’s saying don’t pass the page rank or any authority from my site to that site. Otherwise, Google can come back and penalize you and penalize them for the link to this site now.
“This is a major shake up from Google since February of 2011. (See Panda) Now, you can get a message in Webmaster Tools saying you have an unnatural links penalty and they’ll make you go to a site and ask the webmaster to make a link a No Follow link.
“Linking to Wikipedia, Google will never penalize you for it because no one has anything to gain. Youtube as well. But when it comes to personal websites and other blogs, keep in mind whether there’s any advantage to you to have it a No Follow link. If there’s no advantage to you to make it a Do Follow, most of the time there never is, play it safe and make it a No Follow. Only one percent of the Internet right now has No Follow links.
“Like I said, Google is evil.”
“The best thing you can do is use Firefox and install Search Status. It puts a tool in your bottom status bar and click the setting so it will highlight all the No Follow links.”
The internet is a scary place to compete for eyeballs, so you’d better watch your back end.
“When you start to rank highly for keywords, suddenly other people in your niche are looking at ways to report you to Google. They can’t get ahead of you so they are going to report you and say you’re selling links.
“Google will not let you know you’ve been reported. One day you’ll be number one and the next day you’ll be in a thousandth place. When you start eating into peoples finance, they aren’t very pretty about it.
“Now, people are buying links on other people’s sites to point to your site and claiming that you’re the one who bought them, so your site can get a penalty for the links coming to your site. Ludicrous as it sounds, it’s become such a big problem, that Google has created a new tool at Webmaster Tools called Disavow Links so you can say ‘it wasn’t me, this is a list of stuff – ignore it,’ because it got that out of hand.
“You’ll notice your search results on Google are not very good right now because all the good sites got penalized. People doing tricks are inadvertently punishing every customer on the planet using Google services because their search results are now crap and unrelated, so there’s a real big argument online about what’s the right way to penalize someone.”
Sounds like Google Hell to me.
Big Brother Time
Hold onto your goosebumps and let go of your anonymity. 2018 is the new 1984.
“Right now what Google’s really trying to do is establish ownership. If it can’t find an address and phone on your site then it can’t verify who you are and assumes you could be a scammer. So having more identifiable information will allow you to rank higher, as Google will trust you more.
“At every good website you’ll see a perfectly structured phone and address. Google uses that information in Google Local to build those SERP lists with a map
“It all comes down to what will come down in a few years, which is ID cards for the internet. Especially in America, Obama has made sure that all ISPs have a new implementation – like a kill switch – that in 5 years, they’re going to kill the old internet and put the new one up. All the new ones up will be in transition with it and you will be issued an ID card that says who you are and your access number to get onto the new, “safe internet.”
“You’re going to want to be on the safe internet because other people are already on there. Its an unfortunate actual progression and we’ll all end up there. So when you say, ‘Steven Harper sucks,’ you’ll find yourself silenced from the Internet.
“There’s no way that it’s not going to go this way. It has to go this way because that’s what government wants. It’s all about restricting what people say. They’ll point to the Julian Assanges, the hackers, and Anonymous’ of the world to show people they want to be in a safe environment.
“Google’s ever so slowly stepping into who owns what, where are you, and what you know, and it will reward you for it. Your going to get one point for this and one point for that, and that’s all going to lead up to a ranking that will benefit your business. If you now own a business you’re going to have to follow down the route Google’s asking for because that’s the money trail. That’s why you’ll need to give up all the things that are identifiable about you.”
Hearing all this from Gary left me so stunned and boggled, I left the bar forgetting to pay for my beer. The Internet is an ever-changing and sometimes scary place where anonymity is becoming so last century and governments are getting increasingly heavy handed. Just worrying about my links and kicking myself for not getting into Google Plus sooner made me suddenly nostalgic for the sound of a dial-up modem.
How about you? Are you ready for a brave new Internet? Please let me know – via your Google Plus account, naturally.