Internet Basics

What is Google?
Why Should Magicians Care?

Because You Can Wake Up One Day To Some Very Bad News

Important: Watch this video first THEN all entertainers need to watch the 2nd video

Now watch this true story of where it all went horribly wrong …

Transcript from Julian’s video:

I’m going to look you in the eye and say if anyone suggests that you try and take a short cut to try and manipulate Google and these people say don’t worry, you wont get caught, it’ll never affect you … DON’T. They are wrong. I’ll tell you why.

What is Google?

A very important question to ask. Above all those technical things like search engine and online platform, it’s a business, first and foremost, it exists to make a profit. It gets profit by being good at what it does so people think that this is really good and they want to come back for more.

It’s core function is providing search results to help people quickly and efficiently find the answer to the question or problem they want solved. It is in their own best interests to make sure that when you type in ‘how to get rid of my cats fleas’ that you get the best available advice or tutorials or videos that are out there. Think about it. If you kept asking questions and all you got on the first page was masses of poorly written short articles that were surrounded by a dozen flashing ads, you would start to look somewhere else, you would leave Google. It is in Google’s interest that they try and promote quality and relevance and usefulness and timeliness to the top spots.

So when someone tells you can shortcut this process you need to think 2 things

1. Am I in this for the short term? If you are, then yes, you maybe able to manipulate the system and make some quick cash and move onto the next thing.

2. Am I in this for the long haul? if you are, if you want to build a solid dependable business that will give you as much chance of bringing in income in ten years as it does now, then there is only one option for you .. the white hat way, the way that says put time and effort into creating quality useful, helpful information, the sort of information people and want to share with their friends and family. The black hat way where you think that it’s just a game of brinkmanship with Google, that someone who says they are smarter than the Google people can give you mathematical way to cleverly beat Google at it’s own game. That you can buy a thousand links to your site for $5. That you can just copy and paste text from other people’s sites and that it doesn’t matter. These black hat ways are going to end in tears, yours.

History teaches us so many things. One of which is that we don’t learn from our mistakes. Another is that there are patterns that seem to repeat themselves over and over. We suffer from the human condition that only looks a short way into our immediate future and conveniently forgets the past.

Take a quick plotted tour of the history of the internet and see if you can recognise any patterns that jump out and ring alarm bells for you?

Back in the early days and we’re only talking about the year 2000 the internet was still relatively undeveloped and simple. To get a website to rank well on search engines all you really had to do was have an understanding of meta tags – these are the words that when you build a web page you add. Only the search engines see these, not the human visitor, they tell the search engine that this is a page about cat fleas.

You could build a one page website, these were called doorway pages, and these focused on just one specific keyword. All you had to do was stuff the keywords into your written content like ‘Here at cat fleas monthly we know all about cat fleas and how to remove cat fleas from your cat’ You could also put these words into background images of your webpage. Say if you had a blue page background you would write the blue coloured words into the blue background so they were invisible to the human eye but showed up to the search engines as cat fleas cat fleas cat fleas. All this told the search engine you were of interest to someone typing in cat fleas.

Of course word spreads and soon everyone was doing this, especially the quick grab the cash and run ecommerce type websites, those ones with all the flashing ads but little useful content.

Remember Google is a business so they started to adjust their mathematical formulas or algorithms that track human behaviour – do you click on a site and just leave or stay there for 10 minutes searching more pages and come back again – and match that up against all the metadata and computer talk that goes on. If they see more and more low quality sites are rising to the top of the search results they adjust their algorithms to penalise these sites and promote useful sites.

So everyone went back to the drawing board

The in about 2003 2005 it became very important to get back links to your site. These are links on other sites that people can click and they take them to your site. This is sort of like social proof that people find your site useful. So of course human behaviour being what it is all the short cutters came out of the woodwork and started creating directories. You pay us $100 a year and we will put you in our directory and link back to your site. Article directories became very popular. These  got you to write short articles that businesses could commonly put in their email newsletters to save them the time writing new content. In return you got to put a link or two back to your website in the article itself. So if a vet surgery put an article you wrote about cat fleas in their monthly newsletter you got links back from anyone who read their newsletter and might have clicked your link to find out more of what you had to say. then there were link exchanges where you could search for people with similar sites and you both say you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours, and you both linked to each others sites. Of course all of these were abused.

Key word density was another way Google measured … and of course when I say Google I mean all search engines but hey Google is the survivor here … this was the ratio of your keyword to all the words on your page. People who study Google worked it out at about 3% so of course everyone aimed for this.

In about 2005/6 blogging burst onto the scene and blogs exploded everywhere. Then humans being what they are started abusing this by setting up things like automated guest blogging. Sort of like those newsletters going out and you got backlinks back to you. Problem is a lot of it was just copy and paste. No new information, no new point of view, just a cluttering up of the internet.

In the background Google is trying to make sense of all this and adjusting, ever adjusting the course of the ship.

2007/8 Youtube and social networks like FaceBook come onto the scene and with then came all the new get rich quick schemes to drive traffic to your website where you could sell something. Of course there is a place for this but you and I and everyone else know when we are beoing spammed with rubbish.

Then lets jump to 2011

This is when Google made big changes to try and clean up the mess that happening on search engines. they were out to get those with stuffed keywords and who had copied other people’s content and had old content.

They called these algorithm changes after soft cuddly animal names. These big changes were called Panda. So when you hear that word as in, ‘when Panda hit me back in 2011’ it means that that person was affected by fairly major changes in the rules that Google made.

Things too became more sophisticated with personalised results. this is where everything that you do online like social media, other sites you visit and a whole lot more, this affects the results you see on your search results which would be different to the results someone else will see on their search results.

Then in 2012 another cute animal came onto the scene, Penguin. This is where Google tried to clean up sites with all inappropriate back links pointing to their sites. You could have a small site with thousands of back links all coming from irrelevant sites.

Are you seeing a pattern here?

Each of these started a rush on new tactics to try and trick the search engines and get to the top of the page 1 of Google. Google has adjusted for these every time. panda, penguin…

Right now social relevance is a very big factor for you to rank well. Are people sharing you on FaceBook. Are people mentioning you in their posts and tweets? Are local newspapers writing articles about you and what you are doing? Are you building a solid, useful service, both online and offline that people want to recommend to others?

The internet is evolving. Face book is trying to become a search engine and Google is trying to become social media. What works now is likely to be redundant in a few years time.

What will stand the test of time is creating valuable original content that is designed to help people. There is always a need for that. Make this your online code of practice.

And diversify. Don’t just rely on Google for your traffic. Use YouTube. Use some real world advertising. Use a great show to sell your shows. Use handing out business cards. Use your common sense by looking around for proven best practices and applying them.

Google is really useful to us all. I try and play by it’s rules, so too Ken. What are you going to do?

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