Search Engine Optimization Nightmare

Bing NoI’ve recently become obsessed with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The reason is simple: Bing. Basically every article on this website is cataloged by Google and I get a lot of people coming to this website via it. I get nothing but a trickle from Bing and Yahoo!, which now uses Bing for its search engine, apparently because it wants to become even more irrelevant.

But the issue isn’t even that so little traffic comes here via Bing. I understand that few people use Microsoft’s monstrosity that they have clearly spent more money on marketing than coding. The problem is that very few of the pages on Frankly Curious are even in the Bing database. Google holds over 3200 pages, which is about the number of pages on this site. (A couple of days ago, the Frankly Curious blog posted its 3000th article.) Bing has traditionally had less than 200.

This led me to create a Bing account for webmaster tools, just like the one I have for Google. And I learned about these things called sitemaps. These are XML pages that lay out all the pages that are on this website. Note: Google didn’t need the sitemap. It already did an excellent job of crawling Frankly Curious. But there were some minor problems, and I’ve been doing some major PHP coding on the site to stop some of that. And I provided Google with a sitemap yesterday, which it has already integrated half of.

I did the same thing for Bing. How is it doing? I don’t know. As usual, Microsoft just doesn’t do things as well as Google. I know that they got the sitemap and that they were able to parse it, but that’s about it. Also, Bing doesn’t seem to collect any data about websites until you site up. So it’s been two days and they can’t tell me a damned thing about what activity is going on at Bing regarding this here website.

Thus far this month, Google has directed 3,553 people to Frankly Curious. In that same time, Bing has directed 20. Not 20 thousand, of course; just 20. I’m hoping that in the coming months, now that I’ve spoon fed Bing the contents of my site, this number might go up a bit. But maybe not. Microsoft is a conservative company and they may go along with the Republican belief that it is best to enrich the rich and impoverish the poor. In Microsoft’s case, that seems to be especially so when a website isn’t selling something.

Given I was involved with all this, I checked the library and was very excited to find SEO Search Engine Optimization Bible by Jerri L. Ledford. I could hardly wait to get it. In fact, I called in a favor to get it that very day. The first thing I noticed about it was that it had a lot of filler. I so wanted to get to the point. And the book rarely did that. In total, I would say that the book has perhaps 10 pages of actual information. It is highly repetitive. And of those 10 pages of actual information, none of it was new to me.

Well, I’m perhaps being a bit unfair. Half the book, which I skimmed was not about SEO. It was about paying for advertising. In other words, this is a book for someone who plans to hire someone else to do all the work. Generally, when the word “bible” is used in the title of a computer book, it means that the book is long and detailed. In this case, I think it means that it is faith based.

In addition to everything else, it is hopelessly out of date. But I doubt that four years ago, it was really up on what was happening. The computer publishing business is very bad. O’Reilly is kind of an exception, but even they have been putting out a lot of trash lately. Stay away from their more recent “cookbooks.”

The book did get me to go looking at the online directories. You know, things like Yahoo! I’m proud of Frankly Curious and there is no doubt that I deserve to be in directories. So I spent some time looking around Yahoo! and it was like a ghost town. I don’t know who the editors are, but there were all kinds of sites that no longer existed. And even worse, there were sites that have become really vile commercial outfits (I was looking at the politics section). What’s more, many of the blogs have stopped producing content years ago—2007, 2005. There was even Eric Alterman’s blog at NBC. He left there in 2005. What a great resource that is to the web community! The Open Directory Project is better, but not much better. And all of the directories seem to be designed to confuse users more than anything else. It makes me want to become an editor for them. The main thing they all need is a little weeding. Well, a lot of weeding.

Reddit apparently was not big enough at the time to make it into the book. But I’m really interested in all the new kinds of ways that I can get the word out on this site. Because, with the modest humility that I possess, I think Frankly Curious is quite a good website. Visiting it is like visiting me. I mix things up, I generally have an interesting take on things, I don’t belabor issues. I don’t write long and technical term papers. I have a wry sense of humor. And I have the exact correct amount of outrage. Unlike my other website which gets double the total monthly traffic, this site has a surprisingly large dedicated community of readers who stop by every day. And I know there are more people out there who don’t know about the site but who would enjoy it.

And you know what: I think it sucks that it’s my responsibility to find those people. The search engines do a lousy job of sending people to websites they will like. The thousand people who just come directly to the site each day don’t mean anything to the search engines. Unless there is a link on another page coming to this site, or people clicking on website search engine result pages, Frankly Curious might as well not exist. (Fun fact: the biggest search engine referral to this site is “marlene on the wall.)

So while I continue my attempts to alert the rest of the internet to the special place that is Frankly Curious, be sure you tell all your friends. It can’t last forever. My charm is limited.

John Cassavetes

John Cassavetes

Most likely there will be less posting today. I’m working on the technical side of the site. Some of it is going well, but other aspects are really frustrating. Also, I think I’m badly in need of a day off.

The great chemist Fritz Haber was born on this day in 1868. Knowledge can be used for good or for ill. He invented the process for synthesizing ammonia, which is important to fertilizers and is why we are able to feed the billions of hungry people around the world. But ammonia is also used to build bombs. And he used chlorine and other gases to create the first modern chemical weapons used in World War I. So he is often referred to as the father of chemical weapons. We humans are a mixed bag.

Douglas Fairbanks Jr was born in 1909. He was okay. I’m not a fan or anything. But I am rather fond of the racist but still very fun Gunga Din:

The great Lee J Cobb was born in 1911. He was the original Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman. He also did a great job in On the Waterfront. But it’s his performance as Juror 3 in 12 Angry Men that blows me away. Estranged from his son, he wants to convict out of his latent pain of his personal loss. The scene where he tears up his son’s picture only to weep at the horror of the act is one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen in a movie. Here it is; watch it:

Kirk Douglas is 97 today. I’ve never been a huge fan of him as an actor. He’s okay. But apart from his acting, he’s been an impressive guy. In particular, he’s not a bad writer. He’s just a whole lot more interesting than the characters he played. I think most old people die out of boredom. There just isn’t much that interests them anymore. Douglas has kept his life interesting and I have little doubt that helps him to carry on. But the clock is ticking. He has a maximum of 27 years left.

Singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading is 63. I just love her song “The Weakness In Me.” We cannot control ourselves, especially in love. It isn’t rational. “I need to see you!”

Other birthdays: anarcho-communist philosopher Peter Kropotkin (1842); Tip O’Neill (1912); comedian Redd Foxx (1922); actor Dick Van Patten (85); comedy writer Buck Henry (83); actor Judi Dench (79); musician Junior Wells (1998); actor Beau Bridges (72); and kind of an asshole, actor John Malkovich (60).

The day, however, belongs to the great filmmaker John Cassavetes, who was born on this day in 1929. He was an actor of note, but I really don’t care. He wrote and directed some of the greatest films of the 1960s and 1970s. Forget the French New Wave (which I think is over-rated, but interesting). Cassavetes did revolutionary work. I especially like Faces, A Woman Under the Influence, and The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. What’s most important in his films is that people matter. Character is primary. And that’s important in a media (even going back to theater) where character really doesn’t matter. Characters are never pawns for the sake of Cassavetes’ plots. All kinds of filmmakers followed his lead, but in their own ways. Nothing is quite like the work that he left. Here is a scene I’ve used before but it shows the power of his work:

Happy birthday John Cassavetes!