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A note for long time readers


2013/08/08

Just a quick note for some of the long-time readers:

Google stopped loving this site a few years ago. The reasons are complicated, but the net result is that they send us a quarter of the traffic that used to come here. In turn, that means that my income has plunged also and now barely covers hosting costs, never mind the value of my time.

I think I understand why this has happened. Part of it is that this site was famed for its wealth of SCO Unix related content and of course that content is of interest to a dwindling number of users. While quite a bit of what is here is also applicable to Linux, there are plenty of excellent Linux sites, so (except for a few specific pages), we tend not to do well for Linux related searches.

Linking is yet another issue. When Google changed its algorithms (the so-called "Panda" update), many webmasters reacted by removing their oldest links. Many, many thousands of external links pointing to pages here disappeared almost overnight, causing Google (and Bing, of course) to see us as even less valuable.

Finally, at least as I understand it, Google wants longer and more "authoritative" articles. We have some of those here and those articles still do get love and kisses from Google search, but we also have thousands upon thousands of short little posts that are about something very specific. Apparently that type of web page is not liked by Google any longer and more importantly, just having those pages can diminish the value of other pages. Apparently even linking to those pages can cause Google to wrinkle its nose!

At one point I was ready to give up. I'm nearing retirement and, while the extra income this site used to produce was nice, at its current state I'd be better off bagging groceries than spending time on this. I pretty much stopped posting anything new here for quite some time.

As some have noticed, I have started back up again. While some of what I'm posting is brand new, quite a bit of it comes from rewriting, fleshing out and combining those older "junk" posts into something I hope Google will see as having more value. The way that happens to a page is if actual *people* plus-one it or share it or link to it, but just getting rid of the old stuff may be helping also.

I've also simply pruned thousands of pages (with thousands more to go) without rewriting or combining with anything else. This was and will be pages I think are pointless and unsalvageable. Unfortunately, some of those pages may contain just the exact thing someone needed to solve some problem, which is why I would have liked to just leave them there forever, but that's foolish: they have to go.

So, that's what I'm up to. If you get that Deja-vu feeing when you are reading something, my reshuffling may be why.

A note on redirects

When it has seemed prudent to do so - that is, when a goodly number of external sites still have links to a page I need to delete or replace - I have put in redirects to magically send such requests to what I hope will still provide the same information. I'd love to be able to do that for every page I destroy, but there are performance considerations - Google now also insists upon pages being fast, fast, fast and having too many redirects can drag down performance. I therefore redirect only the most important stuff and sadly let the rest fall into oblivion.

I am hopeful that we can recover some glory here. I enjoy helping people and I like doing this. It has to pay something better than minimum wage, though!

I expect that the bulk of the rewriting/pruning etc. will take a year or two and I don't expect to see much reaction from Google until it is at least mostly done, so I'm "working blind" here for quite while.

Please, if you see something you like, Plus it, share it on G+, Facebook, Twitter, your blog, whatever. Do NOT do that to be "helpful", though: do it only if you really think the page would be valuable to other people. Indiscriminate "help" can actually have the opposite effect, so please be discriminating!

Because of the volume of work to be done, I'll be here at least a few more years. After that.. who knows?



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Thu Aug 8 17:32:15 2013: 12252   BigDumbDinosaur

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Ironically, there's a moral (of sorts) to this story, and it's one that any self-employed individual would be wise to note. Hitching your wagon to a fading star is the surest way to fall back to earth. That "fading star" is revenue generation via search engine links in general, and from Google in particular. Google warrants a particular amount of attention, since they have been the elephant in the room for so long. I believe that will soon be changing.

I have long discouraged the use of Google, explaining to my clients that what they are seeing in search results is often not what they should be seeing. Few of my clients use Google anymore, and one even had me block access to Google and Bing on their T1 router (they've also forbidden employees to attempt access to non-approved search engines). Interestingly enough, while clients may have made this change due to the blatant advertising that passes these days for content on Google, some have cited Google's general intrusiveness and ties to snooping programs run by the U.S. government as reasons for forbidding its use (see (link) for more information).

What caused me to stop using Google a long time ago was the mediocre results, and a recent review has shown the quality has further deteriorated, mostly due to changing policies (as explained above by Tony big pages tend to be top-heavy with advertising, not useful content like what is served here). Google searches produce about 10-15 percent useful content at best, with the remainder either being matter that has little to do with the search terms, or is outright advertising. The search engine that I have been using for nearly ten years produces smaller results, but with a lot less fluff and garbage, and doesn't retain information about the search for later use in pushing advertising, or other purposes.

My point is this to anyone who is expecting revenue from on-line sources of any type: try to distribute your income stream across as many sources as possible, with no one source being more than 20-or-so percent of the total. A reduction in income from any one source will have a lot less effect on the overall picture and even if one income stream completely dries up, the loss won't be as difficult to take. This is good business sense, no matter where your revenue is generated, but is especially important with on-line revenue generation, which is controlled by others who don't have any concern about your interests. Google and their changing page linking policies should be cautionary in this regard.





Thu Aug 8 17:35:20 2013: 12253   TonyLawrence

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In fairness to Google, I applaud what they are trying to do, which is to end the manipulation of search results be SEO trickery.

Somebody has to figure out how eventually and I think it will be Google.



Thu Aug 8 17:50:39 2013: 12254   BigDumbDinosaur

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I agree that SEO has skewed search results away from quality and toward advertising, and anything that can be done to take SEO out of the equation will be good for everyone.

That said, I stand by my comments about Google. They have become to on-line searching what Microsoft has become to computing in general: intrusive and untrustworthy. It's not a good place to be.



Thu Aug 8 17:57:35 2013: 12255   TonyLawrence

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Actually, excessive advertising is a negative for Google search.







Tue Aug 13 14:48:23 2013: 12257   BruceBaumann

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Hi Tony,

Last time I contacted you was to purchase copies of your books (A good read :-)

With regards to your website content that you think is not useful anymore ... Don't chuck it ... I will host it.

I am also in the process of winding up working and will run a site without need to profit from it.

Also ... If you want to throw in the towel and have someone else host all the information on your site so the SCO users can still find those tricky posts that save their butts then I will setup to do it.

One of those tricky posts saved my butt one weekend and I never will forget that as the information was just nowhere else to be found on the net.

It will take me about 7 months to get to a stage where I can start setting up for this. ... Just putting the offer out there in case nobody else has ;-)






Tue Aug 13 14:57:27 2013: 12258   TonyLawrence

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Well, I have not been saving it (sorry) but I can going forward.

SCO used to have a downloadable version of their technical articles - somebody should try to find a copy of that and put it up for when they finally go under for good..



Tue Aug 13 17:18:52 2013: 12259   TonyLawrence

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Also, as I said, stuff that has any importance at all I am combining with related stuff to make Google happy. The stuff I'm taking out entirely really is crap..

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