Apparently this website isn’t Bing-worthy

bing_sucks

After noticing my blog doesn’t appear on Microsoft’s search engine even when using the direct url, I contacted Bing customer service to find out why. Here is a portion of the email I received:

Upon checking, it appears that your site did not meet the standards set by Bing to get indexed the last time it was crawled. However, we will be looking further into this issue along with the Product Group to review the content of your website for re-evaluation. We currently do not have an ETA for the update but please be assured that we will get back to you as soon as they become available.

Although Bing didn’t provide any additional details as to why my site doesn’t meet their standards, a quick glance at their help page revealed this:

Bing likes unique, quality content. Websites which replicate content, redirect users quickly, or provide little depth often don’t fare well in our results. Prolonged poor performance can lead us to delist websites to make room for quality websites.

And here I thought I was providing unique content in a lovely package. Guess not.

Thank God for Google.

Google’s ‘improved’ image search wipes out site traffic

Google announced and implemented changes to the way their image search works around the end of January 2013. This updated interface was supposed to increase the amount of users visiting websites that serve the images.

In our tests, we’ve seen a net increase in the average click-through rate to the hosting website.

It seems the opposite has occurred. Now, instead of pointing users to the host site, Google serves up the entire image from within the search page. While this change is more convenient for those searching, it drastically reduces the amount of visits the site that owns/hosts the image receives. Here is a chart of Google Image traffic to my site before and after the change.

google_image_search

As you can clearly see, traffic to my site via Image Search has dropped dramatically since the update. Overall traffic to my site has been reduced to around half the normal amount, while visits in February were lower than they have been in three years.

Many others are reporting the same problem, and many of them generate income from visitors to their websites. Imagine income-generating traffic dropping by 50% or more and you can understand why people are angry. Not to mention the fact that Google is effectively hotlinking images and stealing bandwidth while circumventing clicks to sites.

Although I don’t use advertising on this site, I am a stats queen and I find this kind of thing very interesting. Google’s claim that their changes will increase the click-through rate is preposterous, and since Google makes their money off of advertising placed on individual sites, they are biting the hand that feeds them.

Google+ > Facebook

I am responsible for managing the online presence of our church. Part of my job involves the use of social networking – including Facebook. Although I used to have a Facebook account, I have had it closed for some time. This means that I have left the chore of updating the Facebook page to others who already have enough on their plate.

My main reason for not wanting to reopen my account is that I don’t trust Facebook with my personal information and I don’t like the way the site functions. Having said that, it is pretty clear that I need to help manage the church’s profile page.

So… I reactivated my Facebook account this morning, then deleted every one of my friends. It was a painful chore, but it is the only way I can manage our church’s page without using Facebook as a social network. I also locked down my account so that no one can send me friend requests, etc.

Maybe one of these days Google+ will replace Facebook as the top social network. Until then, I don’t see a way for businesses/organizations to get around using it. But I already have a G+ page for our church just in case!

The Facebook conundrum

I closed my Facebook account many months ago, but there are times when I really miss it. I miss seeing what my friends are up to, since most either won’t migrate to Google Plus or only use it occasionally. Another thing I miss is when I need to ask for recommendations for home repair or other services. It’s always nice to have almost instantaneous feedback from people you know in real life and trust to some degree.

Google+ is a much cleaner, easier-to-use social network, but unless my close friends are using it, it feels a little cold and impersonal to me. Most of the people in my stream are only sharing and re-sharing news articles. I can’t really go there to ask for advice on local businesses, because I have very few local people in my circles and I get very little feedback there anyway.

There are times when I like the fact that G+ isn’t full of people who know me, then there are times when G+ feels like just as shallow and middle-schoolish (is that a word?) as Facebook. After several months here, I can already feel myself developing the same negative feelings about it that I have about Facebook and Twitter.

I know there is a lot of negativity on Google+ and the internet in general about Facebook, and I completely understand it. Just the thought of all those “Happy Birthdays” and juvenile updates showing up on my Wall makes me feel a little nauseous. If I do go back, I definitely plan on trimming my “friend” list down to people I really care about.

I don’t like the idea of using multiple social networks. I thought G+ could replace Facebook, Twitter, etc, but I am beginning to wonder if each one doesn’t serve a completely different purpose. Is it possible to use them all without feeling stretched too thin? Maybe I would be better off using Facebook for staying in contact with friends, Googe+ for keeping up with the news, and Twitter for following celebrities.

I truly believe Google+ is the next BIG social network and Facebook will eventually go the way of MySpace, but in the meantime, most of my friends are on Facebook. Maybe that’s enough of a reason to go back, but I can’t help thinking about that little thing parents like to say. Yes, Mom, if all my friends jumped off a bridge, I guess I would too.

Blogging is dead

I just went through my blogroll and discovered most of the blogs listed on there haven’t been updated in months. One didn’t even exist anymore. After editing out the defunct blogs, my list of links is quite short.

I don’t have any concrete evidence to back it up, but I am pretty sure blogging died sometime around the rise of social networks like Facebook and micro-blogging platforms like Tumblr. Perhaps our attention spans are too short these days to read more than a couple of lines of text.

Even though blogging might no longer be hip, I enjoy having a place to dump my feelings where they don’t get immediately lost amidst several hundred other status updates in someone’s Google Plus or Facebook stream. I might not get the feedback here that one expects to receive on a social network, but that’s beside the point. At the risk of sounding selfish, I do this for me.

Even though I don’t write as much as I used to, I won’t give up on this little project until they pry it from my cold, gay hands! I will continue to post the trivial, mundane, and often insignificant details of my life, and when I don’t have anything worth writing about I will fill my home page with photos of things I find interesting. Hopefully you will see something that strikes your fancy from time to time, too.

In Google we trust

I make no bones about the fact that I’m a Google fan. I love their varied services and use them daily. In fact, it scares me a little to consider they probably know more about me than most of my friends do.

Almost everything I do online is either on a Google-owned site or facilitated by a Google search. My iGoogle start page is the first thing I see when I log onto the internet – using Google’s web browser. Heck, I even use a Google-powered phone!

Here are a few of the Google services that I regularly use:

  • Chrome browser
  • iGoogle start page
  • Google Plus
  • Bookmarks
  • Calendar
  • Gmail
  • Documents
  • Photos
  • Search
  • Music
  • Reader
  • Maps
  • YouTube
  • Sites

I know people who think this is “putting all your eggs in one basket,” but surely it is less dangerous to share so much of my life with ONE company that I trust instead of giving pieces of it away to a handful of different companies. We all know Facebook’s record on using and selling its user’s information to advertisers, yet look how many people are still using it.

Am I too trusting of a company that makes billions a year on advertising? Probably. But I also realize that no matter which company’s services I use, I am providing an enormous digital footprint that allows me to be easily targeted by advertisers. The “free” services we are used to using aren’t really free. There is a cost to everything.