g is the new i

If you’ve been a long time reader of Technosailor, you might recall when I wrote about how i is the new e. Things change quickly in our industry and while the points made might be valid still, quickly we are finding that g is the new i.

It seems there’s a lot of buzz over g products. gmail. gTalk. gPhone. (!!)

Of course, particularly astute readers know that the gPhone is simply vaporware – but it’s fun to speculate about what might be!

Google’s got this karma going on that is false, yet the perception is very real. They have come out in the last two weeks with a slew of announcements about openly standardized stuff, and a lot of people seem to eb buying the big G. First there was Open Social – an “open platform” for creating apps among social networks.

Wow, cool. Google’s doing something open and cool – how very different of them. Hold that thought, we’ll get to it.

The second announcement pertained to Android, a mobile platform purchased by Google back in 2005, yet just coming to fruition in the Google suite (if only by announcement) last week. The theory is that phone manufacturers can create phones run on open source software running Google apps that would maintain portability of data among computers, phones, and any other point of service allowing access to the Google heaven.

So what’s this bad karma I am referring to. Well, it’s good karma. After all, karma is just a perception anyway. People sign on to the ways of Google – openness for all, defeating the evil Microsoft-Facebook alliance, and all will be good with the world. Hoorah for socialistic groupthink!

Open Social provides a way for a single massive regime (trading at $660/share as I write this) to control the way you and I operate on the internet. All roads lead to Google. Google controls the gateways. If all roads lead to Google and they control the gateways, it goes to reason that as the single largest source of revenue in the world, they are also looking to Adsensize social media (as if we don’t already willingly have enough already).

And if you don’t think that the Google Adsense bot isn’t also monitoring how you consume your internet, well then…. just go ahead and think I’m a conspiracy theorist! ;-)

Carrying on, if Google can also control the mobile platforms through (ahem, already freely available) google applications on phones (What? They’re FREE?!), then they can also control how information is sent and received and, yes, even consumed over the airwaves.

But it’s cool. Google has recieved amazing karma points in the social media community these last few weeks. It’s all about perception anyway, and they are percieved to be benevolent dictators. Quite a PR coup after the PR blowout.

That karma leads me to believe that g is the new i.

Google Can Kiss My Derriére

I’ve given yesterday’s Google smackdown a bit of thought over the past 24 hours. I’ve been angry, sad, indifferent, resigned. I’ve gone through the entire spectrum of emotion over the deal trying to figure out how it would affect what I do and how I do it. After sleeping on the matter for the past day and reading the opinions of lots of other people who were affected, I’m inclined to let Google shoot themselves in the foot.

As one commenter in my previous post noted, this is classic FUD. That theory rings really loudly in my ears and I’m inclined to go with that theory. Google slaps down a bunch of prominent people, lets the buzz take over and hope that the warning shot would be taken seriously by the rest of the blogosphere. Well, Google can kiss my derriére.

I’m not inclined to change the way I do things, nor am I inclined to recommend anyone else change what they do, how they do it or try to avoid Google PageRank penalties in the future. In the case of my blog, I have not broken any rules nor have I pimped my blog in some way to artificially manipulate SERPs or PageRanking. In fact, what I’ve done is no different that the bulk of other legitimate blogs.

Let me summarize what Google exists for, from the perspective of a blogger, content producer and user.

Google Exists to Produce Relevant Search Results

Google is first and foremost a search engine. Sure it has lots of other tools and apps that they offer, but their bread and butter is search and to that end, they want to produce relevant search results to users. They want to produce relevancy and authority. You’re more likely to get gadget recommendations from Engadget, for instance, than our own The Gadget Blog. It’s the truth. Engadget is just the authority followed by Gizmodo. Yes, they are competitors. That’s fine. They are the authorities. When I search for a gadget that our blog and Engadget has written about, I expect, as a user, that the Engadget listing would rank higher. Google wants to produce relevant, authoritative content.

Google has an Advertising Business

Google Adsense is Google’s advertising arm and will run on any site regardless of PageRank. On the flip side, commodity advertising companies rely heavily on PageRank. What you have here is a burgeoning case of Conflict of Interest in the case of Google.

Google does not like to have its SERPs artificially manipulated

The beauty of the Google algorithm is that no one really knows all the details. I’d doubt even the founders or CEO have the full picture. This is a deep, dark secret held as closely as the Coca-cola formula. Going a step farther, Google’s algorithm changes as time goes on and as the volume of indexable content grows and challenges with spam and search engine gaming grow. Google likes to have the final word on what is authoritative and relevant. So they do things like lay a smackdown on people selling text links in exchange for PageRank juice. Purchased influence is not something Google likes to deal with.

Now having said all that – what I expect of Google and what I think Google expects of itself – let me tell you exactly what Google has told the world about itself.

“PageRank is Irrelevant”

In the early days of PageRank, it was about casting relevancy of sites. The higher the PageRank, the more authoritative a site was. Now PageRank is less important as only advertisers really care about it. It’s more important to rank well for keywords and phrases – why? Because of Adsense. I’ll get to that later, though.

What Google has shown with their zealous adjustments on PageRank is that content really is not all that important. What is offered to the world is really not that relevant. What is relevant is playing by Google’s dictates. When they say jump, if you jump, you’ll rank high in PageRank. Realistically, PageRank is about the only leverage Google has to influence relevance and by penalizing those that are highly relevant arbitrarily, they have devalued the perception of PageRank beyond its already low perception.

“We Don’t Want You to Advertise Unless You Use Adsense”

The people who have been penalized in this and the last update are people who are monetizing their blogs. The people who are selling text links – okay, slap a nofollow tag on those links and prevent manipulation. Those penalized yesterday – well, I don’t think any were selling text links, but we are running advertising. And we’re not running Adsense. Under the assumption (faulty as it is) that advertisers only want to run ads on sites that have higher PageRank, and Google Adsense does not rely on PageRank, Google has throttled anyone making significant income on non-Adsense advertising. They are trying to dictate how we monetize.

“Content is Not King. Playing by Our Rules is King.”

I stated yesterday and I’ll state it again today: Those who were penalized yesterday should not be the ones who are demoted but PROmoted. If Google’s endgame is to produce relevant and authoritative listings (see point #1 above), then they should be trying to figure out how to promote our content more. They should be asking us to be listed in Google News. They should be pre-populating our feeds in Google Reader. They should be striking up dialogue with us about how to address their concerns while protecting ours. It’s our content, Google.

Now I still cannot speak publicly for b5media, though my inclination is that the corporate position will be roughly in line with my position, I do not plan to change how I run my site. PageRank 3. So what? Google can kiss my derriére. You as the readers discover this site through search results (which to be clear are not necessarily affected by PageRank, so let’s keep that argument separate), through social media promotion via Twitter, Facebook and reading other blogs, and through networking. As noted in the comments on SEOMoz’ White Board Friday a few weeks ago, this blog is an influencer blog – it doesn’t have the volume of traffic of, say, Scoble but the key people who need to read this blog, read it. They don’t care about PageRank. You don’t care about PageRank. Why should I care about PageRank.

I still have people approach me at conferences asking me “Hey, aren’t you the guy from Technosailor?” I still am in the Technorati 5000 (was Technorati 2000 but I don’t try anymore since T’rati is pretty much irrelevant too). I still have people who look forward to meeting me whenever I’m going somewhere. I still have people who LOVE the chance to write here (there’s original Spanish Language content coming as soon as I can secure the writer!). This blog is successful on its own without Google. It’s a shame Google won’t play the game with us, but if they want to be on their own island, let them be.

For bloggers who are not sure what to make of this whole thing, I’d say ignore it. Don’t worry about PageRank. Don’t worry about whether or not you should include a blogroll on your site. My advice about avoiding blogrolls centers on value for everyone when you link to your favorite blogs in the context of your content instead of a semi-static blogroll no one may ever look at. It has nothing to do with whether Google might or might not penalize you for having a blogroll. For bloggers in networks, I’d say forget about Google’s pagerank. Don’t install the toolbar. Don’t torture yourself. Like Alexa ratings, the numbers are completely bunk and are not in your control anyway. Just ignore it. Produce great content, and people will find you. Trust me, they always do. People want good content, not PageRank. Write for your readers or yourself. Google can kiss your derriére.

Google PageRank Penalties For Network Blogs

It appears this morning that Google has issued pagerank penalties on network blogs. This was first brought to my attention by Darren over on his blog who saw his blog drop from a pagerank 7 to a pagerank 4. Interestingly, Problogger.com is a solid pagerank 6 and it redirects to problgger.net, so I don’t know entirely what to make of that.

I’ve seen Technosailor drop from a solid pagerank 6 to a pagerank 3 in most cases. Engadget was dropped from a 7 to a 5. Copyblogger also was dropped from a 7 to a 4.

A number of people have emailed, Skyped or Twittered looking for an explanation of this. I am not Google so I can only offer speculation. If I had to guess, it comes down to nofollow not being applied to “permanent links”. Last month, we saw Google penalize people selling Text links without nofollow added. This month, we are seeing networks who links among themselves penalized.

This is where I find tremendous fault with this Google action. If you remember back to six months ago, all our b5 blogs linked to all other b5 blogs. It was a tremendously lengthy and unwieldy blogroll. We recognized at that time that for practical reasons, as well as search engine purposes, we needed to keep the blogroll limited to relevant links. Thus entered our second version blogroll which now presents relevant blogs within our network based on the channels they are in. I think it’s safe to assume that people interested in Lindsay Lohan, might very well be interested in Brad Pitt or Britney Spears. Likewise, people who like First Person shooters are probably gamers interested in breaking video games news from one of the worlds leading sources. Folks wanting to know about Apple products might also be interested in iPhone discussions over at Cellphone9.

Makes sense right?

Google doesn’t like it. But here’s my beef. Google’s algorithm, as tremendous as it is, doesn’t consider common sense like this. Either that or there was some anti-spam vigilante assuming that blogroll links are spam regardless of the topic and manually culling from the index.

At b5media, we are weighing how we want to respond to this. Either we give in to Google and let them dictate what we do and have the unenviable position of losing pagerank and possibly advertising dollars, or we take the stand that quality content is quality content regardless of Google and that our content will speak for itself. We still produce millions of pages of content per month. We still have respect in the community. We still have advertisers recognizing that these sites are valuable assets to leverage to get their campaigns out on.

I’m interested in your take on this blood bath. Please weigh in.

Update: Duncan Riley weighs in at TechCrunch

The move by Google could well cause many smaller blog networks, including a number with funding, to close given their heavy reliance on text link ads and related sales that depend on strong Google page ranks for each site. Although traffic alone can and does sell ads on bigger sites, a drop from say PR7 to PR4 in one example makes the ad sell that much more difficult, particularly on blogs with little traffic. I’d suggest that the Deadpool will soon see a number of new entrants.

Deadpool is a little extreme but he makes a good point.

Update: Video comments!