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Oct 21

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Google Is Driving Me Crazy!

Google LogoI feel for people who own websites that need to make money. They really are at the mercy of the internet giants that push traffic. A great example of this is Upworthy that saw its traffic go down by 25 percent almost over night because Facebook made a change to one of its algorithms. Late last month, Google made a change in its ranking algorithm: Penguin 4.0. And the results have been dramatic.

The change is not necessarily bad. In fact, it’s been great for Frankly Curious. Traffic has increased by about 10 percent. That doesn’t matter that much to me. For one thing, the site doesn’t really make any money. But more important: I’m focused on the regulars around here. It is nice when a particular article gets a lot of attention, but that’s not what keeps me grinding out content every day. I like the community here, even if it is small. (There are about a hundred regulars, but only a couple dozen who ever comment.)

For other websites, Google’s changes have not been welcome. Search Engine Roundtable ran an informal (non-scientific) poll and found, Only 12 Percent Said They Saw Ranking Improvements After Google Penguin 4.0. But mostly, people aren’t seeing any change. (Of course, it’s hard to say because traffic is noisy.)

Weirdness at Google

But there is one thing that has been going on with Google that driving me crazy. A month and a half ago, I wrote an article I’m rather proud of, Dean Spanley: Film and Book Comparison. It’s more the idea of it that I like. No one has written about this and the film and the book (novella) are really different. So I knew that I would get traffic for it. But I haven’t.

So I went to Google and I did a search: “dean spanley book film comparison.” That’s almost the title, so I figured it should be at the top of the search results — or close enough. But the search produced this:

Google Search: dean spanley book film comparison - Example One

Okay, so it isn’t at the top of the rankings. But when I looked, I found it was nowhere. That is to say: Google didn’t even have the page in its database. This was horrifying — not for me but for the world. The best thing about Google has always been its enormous database. That’s why it has always been better than Bing.

What was going on? Frankly Curious is a small website, but its been around a long time and it has a lot of unique content. What’s more: it isn’t that small. Anyway, I went to show a friend. I entered the same search into Google and I go this:

Google Search: dean spanley book film comparison - Example Two

Now the page was the top ranked. In fact, just “dean spanley book” ranks at number 11. So I was pleased. And, as usual, I just figured I had imagined the other search or that it was a glitch.

Flipping a Switch

But no! The truth is that the search flips back and forth. It seems that my article isn’t in the database during the day and it is during the night. Or something. I haven’t studied it closely. But it is the case that for days, sometimes it’s there and sometimes it isn’t. Of course, maybe Google has always been this way and I simply didn’t notice.

I’m just glad that it doesn’t really matter to me in a practical sense. But it is driving me crazy!

Permanent link to this article: http://franklycurious.com/wp/2016/10/21/google-crazy/

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11 comments

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  1. donosaur

    “There are about a hundred regulars, but only a couple dozen who ever comment.”

    Uh, oh. Must be time for me to say something about something. I wouldn’t want to lose my place in such an esteemed company. ;)

    I’m not a Googler, myself. I use Bing to search. I’m not sure if their algorithms are any different, let alone any better, but it’s easier for me to type whatever search term I’m interested in in the address bar than to go to the Google website. Plus, I’ve always had an aversion to the “most popular,” whether it’s websites, movies, bands, or beers. (If everyone loved Stroh’s, I’d quit drinking it, ya know?

    1. Frank Moraes

      Well, you know you can change what search provider your browser uses… You get rid of the excessive ads with DuckDuckGo.

      But I think Bing has gotten a lot better. Even a few years ago when I wrote a few articles comparing Google and Bing I didn’t find them much different. And for that search term, my page is consistently on top. But now the article appears to be in the Google database permanently. But I’m beat out of first place by Amazon.

      I’m glad you decided to comment. Of course, now you’re on several government watch lists…

      1. donosaur

        Nothing compares to the pride and paranoia I experienced being included in the Michigan State Police undercover “Red Squad” files back in the day. ;)

        http://www.nytimes.com/1976/01/19/archives/police-red-squad-told-to-disband-michigan-judge-also-orders.html?_r=0

        1. Frank Moraes

          Really?! That is awesome. It speaks well of one to be on a watch list.

      2. Elizabeth

        Yes Donosaur, say hi to Sheriff Arpaio! He got mad at my public comments again so I am back under surveillance and so…HI SHERIFF DEPUTIES, HAVE A NICE DAY!

        1. Frank Moraes

          Are we going to get to see “Goodbye!” soon?

          1. Elizabeth

            Probably. Also, I saw on Twitter that Clinton is at 52 to 42 in early voting. Already 40% of the vote is in.

            1. Frank Moraes

              Yeah, but it’s all rigged. I know because I personally brought two dozen Mexicans in via sub to vote. I shouldn’t have waited. They’re making a lot of noise!

    2. James Fillmore

      Welcome donosaur! And Stroh’s is OK. The only rule for beer is no Coors. Not ever. In an alcoholic emergency, drink cough syrup before Coors.

      1. donosaur

        My opposition to Coors was/is more political than gastronomic.

        http://www.cpr.org/news/story/coors-boycott-when-beer-can-signaled-your-politics

        “For some Americans in the 1960s and 1970s, Coors—the iconic Rocky Mountain brew—signified views about labor, race, and gender equality. The Coors boycotts, beginning in 1966 and lasting, for some people, right up to the present, connected a wide spectrum of activists and organizations, much like the successful grape boycott organized by Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers in the 1960s.”

        1. James Fillmore

          Exactly! They make Blue Moon, which is a highly tolerable beverage in terms of taste. But ya can’t drink Coors. We’ve gotta have some principles, dammit! And that company crosses every line. They also bankroll crazy fundamentalist nutjobs like James Dobson. Beer drinkers of the world, unite! Coors is evil!

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