The Sky Isn’t Falling – Penguin 2.0

by Jonathan Goodman on May 29, 2013

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This is Jonathan Goodman, president of Halyard Consulting and author of The World of Internet Marketing. This is the podcast, The World of Internet Marketing podcast.

The episode today is called The Sky Isn’t Falling. We’re going to concentrate and talk about the new Penguin 2.0 Update. Before we get to that, this is the first time I’m going to add a couple of segments to the podcast, areas of interest that I think you want to hear about. The first segment is

Your Social Media Oops for the Week

It’s an interesting story coming out of the relationship with an Italian hazelnut-based spread that everybody knows called Nutella. In 2007, Sara Russo, an American blogger living in Italy, created the World Nutella Day to show her enthusiasm for Italy’s favorite spread, Nutella. Seven years later, though, she received a cease-and-desist letter from Nutella’s parent company and this is what she wrote on her blog:

Nutella Nutella (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“On May 25, 2013, I’ll be darkening the World’s Nutella Day site, Nutelladay.com, and also show media presence, both on Facebook and Twitter, in compliance with the cease-and-desist letter I received from lawyers representing Ferrero, SPA, the makers of Nutella. Seven years after the first World Nutella Day in 2007, I never thought the idea of dedicating a day to come together for the love of a certain hazelnut spread would be embraced by so many people. I’ve seen the event grow from a few hundred food bloggers posting recipes to thousands of people tweeting about it, pinning recipes on Pinterest and posting their own contributions on Facebook. There have been songs sung about it, short films created for it, poems written about it, recipes tested for it and photos taken for it. The cease-and-desist letter was a bit of a surprise and a disappointment as over the years, I’ve had contact and positive experiences with several employees of Ferrero, SPA and with their public relations and brand strategy consultants, and I’ve always tried to collaborate and work together in the spirit and goodwill of a fan-run celebration of a spread that I, to this day, still eat.”

You can imagine the enormous amount of backlash that occurred on the Nutella Facebook. They don’t have an American Twitter account, so they quickly responded and wrote a letter and gave it to Russo and posted it on their Facebook. I’ll read it to you. It says:

“World Nutella Day: A Positive Conclusion. Positive direct contact between Ferrero and Sara Russo, owner of the non-official Nutella fan page, World Nutella Day, has brought an end to the case. Ferrero would like to express to Sara Russo its sincere gratitude for her passion for Nutella. Gratitude which extends to all fans of the World Nutella Day. The case aroused from a routine brand defense procedure that was activated as the result of some misuse of the Nutella brand on the Facebook page. Ferrero is pleased to announce that today after contacting Sara Russo and finding together the appropriate solutions, it immediately stopped the previous action. Ferrero considers itself fortunate to have such devoted and loyal fans of its Nutella spread like Sara Russo.”

It’s just amazing that there would be such a response. First of all, the response sounds legalese, so it probably came from the same legal department from which Sara Russo received that first cease-and-desist letter. And you can only imagine that the fan backlash was enormous enough for them to respond immediately like that. Just a major, big oops for Nutella. I don’t personally eat Nutella, so I don’t know what the whole big fan thing is, but I can understand loyalty to a brand and being enthusiastic for it and then receiving this. I actually think that because of what she did to show continued support and obviously now she’s going to continue the day and build it up, that she probably will get some sponsorship, some money, out of it from Nutella. But that could have blown up in their face.

The next segment I want to do is called

A Semantic Minute

There is a very interesting article on imassera.com that I wouldn’t have been aware of other than that I read semanticweb.com that has an aggregator for content about anytime that semantic comes up. It’s an aggregation website. I speak a lot about semantic web at all the major conferences. That’s kind of my forte. It’s funny there aren’t too many people who are really willing to talk about the technology behind Semantic Web. So it’s a great “in” for me to be able to speak about it. It’s gotten me into all the major conferences and I’m happy about it. But essentially the article brings to light the idea that Yahoo’s recent purchase of Tumblr might actually be due to the Semantic Web. And it goes on to speculate that Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer understands that if the company is to regain its past glory, it has to redefine itself using the Semantic Web. In order to do that, it needs data and connectivity that Tumblr has been responsible for because Tumblr is driving traffic to a sizable portion of sites on the Web. So it is sitting on a pile of data that it if it’s mined using the right algorithms it could deliver an incredible amount of semantic data.

The next segment is called

Hack Around Jack

I like the name of that. I also read thehackernews.com and sometimes there are very interesting articles on there. Today there happens to be a particularly interesting article talking about Microsoft’s possible capability to spy on Skype conversations. Let me try to sum this up without getting overly complex and technically. I’m going to do it in two sentences and then move on to the main gist of what we want to talk about today. But essentially there has been a recent discovery that Microsoft has the capability to read the transmitted URLs through Skype. The purpose – whether they’re saying it or whether the software engineers are saying it – but essentially the reason why that’s being done is to monitor the spam and phishing sites and monitor that in Skype. But it’s an interesting article. I would have to spend a lot of time explaining the technical lingo behind it, but essentially if Microsoft is able to read those URLs and headers within the data that is being passed back and forth, they’re saying that they don’t have access to the full data, but still it’s interesting that publicly a lot of news broadcasters and activists use Skype to communicate. And they’re under the impression that it is more private and secure than what it actually turns out to be.

Anyway, let’s talk about the idea behind the

Sky is Not Falling

Goggle released Penguin what they’re calling 2.0, but in fact it is the fourth update to the algorithm. And prior to what actually was released, everybody in SEO and anyone in Internet marketing and anyone who is working in trying to improve search engine ranking were kind of running around like chickens with their heads cut off because any changes to the algorithm could have potential impact on their clients or their websites. You sometimes go to these conferences and there are expectations for changes to these algorithms and you just talk to people who are so terribly frightened. I just sit back and think to myself,

“Gosh, you know, if they were obeying the rules of the Google Webmaster Tools, what Google is laying down about how they want you to behave, everyone would kind of take this with a grain of salt instead of all these articles and all this conversation going into the fear and the threat of the Goggle algorithm.”

The Google algorithm is changing on a daily basis. It’s adapting and learning how we’re searching and it’s improving the search engine. The Penguin Update is really meant to exclude any black hat. Black hat means that you’re doing something against Google’s wishes. There’s also gray hat where you’re kind of bordering that. Any manipulation of the search engines, any manipulation of traffic and data and any spyware on any of these websites and any real hacker kind of stuff. The people doing that are who should really be concerned, not the guys who understand how to build a good website, who put together good content, who know how to push backlinks and improve those. When those people get scared, I kind of laugh and say,

“You’re misunderstanding what’s going on here.”

Anyway, Penguin 2.0 rolled out and it winds up that it only really affected 2.3 percent of all English U.S. queries. Think about it this way — 2.3 percent is less than the national average of increases in salary. We all know how pitifully small those increases are if you’re working for a corporation. In fact, 2.3 percent is less than the number of people who are going to receive IRS inquiries out of the taxes gone through. It’s an incredibly small number. By comparison, I think that some of the people doing the research are saying that countries like Germany have even less than a 2.3 percent change of search index because of the Penguin update. So I kind of say to Google and to Matt Cutts, who runs the Goggle algorithm department.

Listen if a year goes by and the only algorithm change that you make has an impact of only 2.3 percent, Google should be questioning what you’re doing. I mean that’s a terrible thing to say. But if you’re working all year round to make major modifications and improve the search rankings and search engines so that people understand that they’re finding the right websites faster and all you can do is come up with an algorithm change that impacts everyone to the tune of 2.3 percent, that’s not good enough.

Here’s a challenge for Google. I’d like an absolute 100 percent guarantee of no porn. I’d like when I do a search and I go to view photos – and they’ve gotten better, they’ve definitely gotten better – but how about Google comes out next year and says, “Guaranteed. 100 percent. No porn websites. You want to go search for porn, go use Bing. Somebody else go out and create an algorithm that searches for a porn.” That’s a great business model, right? You create the porn version of Google. Google excludes all porn and you go ahead and build a search engine that allows for all porn all the time. Perfect. That’s the kind of thing that I want to see as an adult who doesn’t want to see a naked woman holding a machine gun when I do a search for Barack Obama. That’s what I want to see. I want Google to come out next year and say, “No porn. 100 percent guarantee. It’s not going to be found.” That’s a great challenge.

Now let’s get back to the Penguin 2.0. Because there is out of all of this an interesting article on Search Engine Land. The title is “Penguin 2.0 Losers: Porn Sites, Game Sites and Big Brands like Dish.com and the Salvation Army.” Essentially SearchMetrics is a company that has done an analysis and it shows their list of the 25 biggest losers after Penguin 2.0 was launched. Yes, out of these 25, eight of them are porn sites. Great. You’re getting better at figuring that all out.

At the top, some are actually games, like 2dplay.com and dressupjunior.com. I’m not familiar with these sites, but I’m curious as to why maybe they are in there. What’s shocking is that salvationarmy.org was hit. Now maybe they’re doing something kind of weird. Dish.com got a big hit because of this. Concerthotels.com, 1channel.ch and those sites. Cheapoair.com. It comes up in all the searches for the airlines and travel. Maybe it’s not supposed to. Maybe it’s really a bad site. But it sounds like maybe Google has a little modification that they need to do with this Penguin 2.0 release. If that’s the case, then it’s a less than a 2.3 percent impact.

Anyway, there is one interesting aspect of this new Penguin 2.0 and it’s the fact that they’ve built a tool. It’s called the Penguin Spam Report. What it allows you to do is if you’re doing a search and you come across what you feel is a spam site that is in let’s say a top 10 ranking for a search term that you did, you can actually report that to Google. Now what I would like to see is a button on the Google search that says, “Is this a spam site?” It doesn’t have to be next to every single one because then that’s going to be abused by SEOs and competitive marketers who are trying to claim that their competitors are actually spam sites, and that’s going to bog down all the workers at Google who manually review all this. But I’d like to see it be somewhat easier than what they currently have. I found a link to it and it seems to be a Google doc. It’s not even its own website. I’d like it to be its own website. I’d ultimately like it to be its own button because again it’s kind of the same story as Google+. The only people who are really taking advantage of this is SEOs and Internet marketers.

What you really need is the average mom and pop who are doing a search on Google and wind up somewhere they didn’t want to be. They hit the back button and there’s a button there that says, “Is this spam?” And they can hit “Yes.” Then it imports. Right now, I think when you go to that page, it asks for the URL of the offending website and the URL of the original search. All of that is extremely complicated to my mother, who barely can get onto the Internet. Certainly, if she does a search for something and winds up on a spam or a porn site that she didn’t want to be on, she’s never going to know how to go through this process of reporting that. So I think Google needs to do that. Google is a great company that is kind of run by engineering. The ideas are brilliant, but they now need to convert that into major use for the general population.

What I thought was interesting was that Matt Cutts also kind of talked about further revisions that they wanted to make. So I’ll just name three that he listed. More focus on advertorials. You see them all the time now. They’re rampant in all of these magazines. Anytime you open up a physical magazine and say you’re looking through and all of a sudden, even though it looks like a regular ad, at the very, very top it says advertorial or advertisement. It looks like another page within the magazine, but it’s actually an ad. It might be promoting a product or it might be promoting a medicine, pill or something like that. So what happens is in websites, you might end up at a page like CNN that you didn’t realize was an advertorial.

What Google is trying to say to companies running these advertorials is that page rank can’t flow to that. We can’t have that gaining the rank. Page rank basically means that if I’m on CNN, well, if that’s advertorial is on CNN, then that ad and those links associated with that ad are going to gain page rank. So Google is trying to say to those websites that are running those advertorials, you can run the ads. It’s fine that you want to make them look like a regular page on your site, but you can’t get added value to those links via the website that you are on.

Another area that they are looking at is better detection of hacked sites. I don’t want to put a challenge out there to anybody who feels that they can hack other people, but there is one major way to defend against hacks and that is update your server and update your website. If you update your server, the PHP, and I’ve spoken about this before. But if you do that, all of the updates are defending against hacks. They are there for the specific reason to defend against hacks. For the content management system, if you’re running WordPress, when there is a new WordPress that comes out, you have to do the update. Otherwise, you’re going to be susceptible to an attack.

Google is getting better at both looking for hacked sites and then telling the owner of that site that they may have been hacked. Now again, if you don’t use Webmaster Tools for your website. If you’re not communicating directly with Google, then they can’t directly communicate with you. Google Webmaster Tools is the prime way to have a conversation with Google, both submitting site maps and submitting individual pages for indexation and for being alerted that your site has been hacked. If you’re not doing that, then you’re doing a disservice to yourself and anyone who is going to come and visit your site.

Finally, Goggle is going to work on what is called clustering of results. So in a page result, generally this happens on second and third page, but if you’re doing a search and you go to the second page, and you start to see the same website, just with different pages, that’s considered a cluster. Now sometimes that happens on the first page of results, and Google is trying to get better at moving that to the second and third pages and diversifying the main page results.

So as always, I want to focus on an

App Segment

Today I want to talk about SocialBro and Buffer apps. I went to SFIMA, the PubCon conference, and I kept hearing about SocialBro and Buffer apps. And I was told that together these are great social media tools. And so I installed Buffer app, which can be installed on Chrome and I was going to go in and install SocialBro but I wanted to kind of understand what Buffer app was. So I actually went through it. I liked it and I purchased it for the year. And it wasn’t until then. I guess I wasn’t paying attention or maybe I didn’t read everything that I needed to. But I’m managing multiple clients through HootSuite right now. And I thought that by purchasing the Buffer app pro that they would allow me as many profiles within one account. What I found was that their limit was 10. I don’t think HootSuite has a limit or I’ve just haven’t hit it yet, which is remarkable because I’m running so many different Facebook and Twitter profiles for my clients.

So I installed Buffer. When I found out that they limit profiles, I immediately had to ask for a refund. And I had to uninstall Buffer apps. Fortunately, I didn’t cancel my HootSuite. I didn’t jump in completely. I need to watch and monitor that. Then I looked at SocialBro because SocialBro can actually integrate with HootSuite, but again it’s Twitter specific and I’m running Google+, Linked In, Facebook and Twitter. So for me to use this other element of SocialBro within HootSuite just for the Twitter didn’t really pay. So that’s my Focus on Apps segment.

Okay. We’re almost done with the half hour. As always, I want to remind you about my book, The World of Internet Marketing. It’s available on Amazon. You can also hear me speak. I have two major events coming up. One is the Affiliate Summit 2013 on August 18-20 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. The conference is selling out quicker than any year prior. They’ve had to add a second hotel because the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown is already sold out. I’m also going to be speaking at PubCon in Las Vegas on October 21-25 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the South Halls. The highlighted hotel for that event was just announced yesterday. It’s the Hard Rock Hotel. They have a great deal on rooms, but that’s actually going to sell out even quicker than the Philadelphia conference. If you like this podcast, I’d really appreciate it if you would promote it through your social media, Facebook and Twitter. I really appreciate your listening. Thank you. Have a great weekend.

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