What if YOU get removed from Google?

Such an interesting day… suddenly… πŸ˜€

… At some point this morning, I went to check on my Google status.

The way I do that is to Google the word “Bill” or the word “bill”.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&q=Bill&btnG=Search

On November 12, 2007, I was on page 4: (#37 of 41,600,000 English pages for “Bill”)

Page 4 Google for "bill"

On February 15, 2008, I was on page 1: (#10 of 42,000,000 English pages for “Bill”)

Bill Cammack on Google page 01 for "Bill"

On April 20, 2008, I was STILL on page 1: (#3 of 29,700,000 English pages for “Bill”)

Bill Number 03

Now, I could have taken a screenshot every single day, if I gave a damn, because I haven’t been outside of the top ten results for “Bill” or “bill” for the last five (5) months. In fact, everybody KNOWS that, because I don’t carry business cards. I just tell people to “Google Bill”.

So anyway, hahahaha πŸ˜€ I google my first name, and interestingly enough, I’m not on page 1. I look at the number of entries and notice that it’s ballooned to 395,000,000 English pages.

Google Search "Bill" 080718

So I’m like, ok. So what? This is interesting. For once, I get to see myself on page 2. When they get rid of those extra couple of hundred MILLION results, I’ll be back in position.

Nope! πŸ˜€

Page 3?… 4?… 11?….. Nothing. πŸ˜€

So now, I’m getting suspicious, so I start googling stuff that I *KNOW* I’m on page 1 for, such as “Bill Cammack” and the first thing that comes up is my Flickr set. :/

Michelle, Marissa, Bill & Lindsey
Photo by Jonathan Dingman

So now I’m like “oh. I see. My entire DOMAIN NAME has disappeared from Google”. :/ So then I did this search:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3Abillcammack.com&btnG=Search&meta=

and received this: πŸ˜€

Bill Cammack Site Disappears From Google

And… Yes… I tried it in “all languages” too, as if I EVER post in anything except English.

Now…

I don’t know anything about how sites disappear/reappear in Google’s results. This Page gives Google’s explanation of what could happen to YOUR site:

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=34443

Also, as I mentioned, there are usually tens of millions of English pages for “Bill” and today, there are hundreds of millions, almost ten times the usual number. However, that makes no difference, because my site is currently not indexed by google AT ALL, as if it never existed. πŸ˜€

Now… Rewind a couple of days… On July 16, 2008, I was experimenting with Google Ads and wrote a post about it, so the two things that came to mind were that a) someone tampered with my site, or b) I messed something up when I added and then deleted my Google Ads within like two days, because they totally weren’t floating my boat. As I was discussing this with Tyme, she mentioned that my site might have been removed for some sort of Adsense violation. Googling removal situations, I landed on a page that said they usually send out some sort of explanation if they remove you themselves……

So I go to my junk mail folder, and lo and behold, there’s an email from “Google Search Quality”, which read:

Dear site owner or webmaster of billcammack.com,

While we were indexing your webpages, we detected that some of your pages were using techniques that are outside our quality guidelines, which can be found here: http://www.google.com/webmasters/guidelines.html. This appears to be because your site has been modified by a third party. Typically, the offending party gains access to an insecure directory that has open permissions. Many times, they will upload files or modify existing ones, which then show up as spam in our index.

The following is some example hidden text we found at billcammack.com:

and went on to describe the offending text.

Interestingly enough, I received this email on July 17, 2008, less than a day after my Google Ads post. When I mentioned this to Tyme, she pointed me to a post she recently made on her 9rules blog, called Securing Your WordPress Site. Thanks to Tyme’s post, which cited this article by Brajeshwar, which describes how he found foreign code in his site’s header file, I figured out what had happened.

Sure Enough… a simple “View Page Source” revealed that my site had been ‘infected’ with “hidden” text when I searched for one of the words that Google informed me was on my site. I switched themes, upgraded WordPress and did a couple of other things to prepare to “request reconsideration” of my site for indexing in Google’s search results.

I did that today, June 18, 2008, and we’ll see how long it takes, since this is what’s written on the reconsideration request page:

Please allow several weeks for the re-evaluation process. Unfortunately, we can’t reply individually to reconsideration requests.

So this got me thinking….

What if YOU get removed from Google?

Can YOU afford for your site to be removed from Google’s search results? Would that impact your business? Would it impact your social life? Would it impact your ‘cred’?

Personally, I don’t need google for business. I don’t need google for socialization. I am a REAL PERSON who does work for REAL COMPANIES and has REAL FRIENDS that I hang out with, regardless of whether my site is indexed in Google. The hits that I get from Google are all *RANDOMS*. The people that are wondering what Bill Cammack did last night or last week are either SUBSCRIBED to my site via RSS or have billcammack.com in their favorites or bookmarks somewhere. Being on Page 1 on Google for “Bill” is strictly a NOVELTY for me, because….. I never even BRANDED “Bill”. πŸ˜€ People ask me all the time, “What did you do to get to page 1 for ‘Bill’?”, and I can’t tell them, because all I did was POST. INTERESTING. ISH, like this post you’re reading right now. Granted, I can’t/won’t take credit for the popularity of my site, because other than Google (which, according to Google Analytics accounts for accountED for 56.04% of my page hits) I get a lot of referral traffic from people like Richard Blakeley & Lux Alptraum of Boinkology.com.

Blakeley, Lux & Bill

So, like I said in my posts about Fame and “Star Power”, I couldn’t possibly give a damn about people that I don’t know at all googling some topic that I happened to have posted about and enriching their own lives by reading what *I* wrote. πŸ˜€ Therefore, it doesn’t matter to me AT ALL, that according to Google right now, my site doesn’t even exist.

But what about you?

What would happen to YOUR business if Google suddenly didn’t see your site?
What would happen to YOUR standing in your field amongst people that don’t know your CV yet?
What happens if nobody can google YOUR company and see years worth of posts and videos and pictures and awards and accolades and recommendations?

I have over 1,000 posts on BillCammack.com that are currently absolutely ****ing INVISIBLE on Google. It’s funny, πŸ™‚ because this is such an odd feeling that I can’t really explain it. πŸ˜€ It’s relatively unique. It’s like the world suddenly caught amnesia when it comes to anything you’ve said or done over the past umpteen years.

The closest I can come to explaining it is… We’ve all seen what happens when Twitter fails.

What happens if Google fails YOU?

Welcome To The Dead Pool

A lot of shows and sites have been receiving the Fail Whale recently.

Bill Fail Whale

There’s nothing wrong with failing. Happens all the time. “Happens to the best of us”. Sometimes, it’s not actually a failure so much as an inability to meet requirements for continuation. You could have a perfectly successful show as far as getting the job done and delivering on time, but you’re just not getting the numbers of views or members or whatever your sponsors asked you for and your authorization to continue the show (or your funding) gets pulled, and that’s that.

More important than failing is what happens AFTER you fail… What happens to your media? What happens to your site? Did you think about this before you started your show?

I’m thinking about this today because I read Liz Burr’s post “Do Social Media Strategies Go To Heaven?”, where she talks about her WIRED SCIENCE Facebook app and the fact that the show itself was canceled and will not be coming back to PBS. She writes:

“The show’s cancellation has me asking myself, where do social media strategies go when they’re no longer needed? So far, the results of our most significant strategies are:

The Facebook application is especially interesting to me because it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Since launch, the application has been averaging 100 new installs per day. This is with no paid promotional activity whatsoever. I don’t expect this to stop anytime soon, because I don’t think we will reach a ceiling going at this (slow but) steady rate of installation (considering the number of users on Facebook). I designed the application to be viral enough for it to self promote. I suppose I could turn those activities off if I wanted to.

For the blog, we have decided to stop all posting, write our goodbyes and leave commenting open for a few weeks. We will then shut down all comments, and leave the blog up for the sake of Google and reference.  I am not sure what to do with the Twitter account. It essentially was a machine for the blog and site updates, but with no more site updates, what else is there? I suppose the Facebook fan page can stay in place, however we’ll probably put up a notice about the show and site saying farewell.”

So that project is ending, because the show it was supporting wasn’t picked up for a new season. However… The work that was done will remain and fans of the show will have access to it. Basically, it becomes “what it is”. A project that used to be active and is now inactive. C’est la vie. πŸ˜€

There’s a Next New Networks show called Bride-O-Rama that went “on hiatus”. πŸ™‚

I can’t find on the page when the episode I embedded was uploaded, but a) I happen to know this particular show was cancelled a long-ass time ago, and b) the first comment is from October 29 so let’s assume it was canceled in late October, 2007 which was 8 months ago. Similar to the pending status of the Wired Science blog, this show remains in suspended animation. The shows are there to watch. The comments are there to read. As a matter of fact, NNN’s still serving recent ads on those pages, so anybody who happens by to check out some of the Wedisodes is helping out NNN’s bottom line.

OTOH… We have FastCompany.TV’s former offering “Global Neighbourhoods”, which as far as I know was canceled this very month, and immediately disappeared off the face of the earth as if it never happened.

Here’s what the “Global Neighbourhoods” creator, producer and host, Shel Israel had to say about it in his post Several Changes:

“That brings us to GlobalNeighbourhoods.TV (GNTV), my other online video program. Unlike WorkFast, GNTV is my baby, is an extension of not just the Global Survey, but Naked Conversations as well. As many of you know, GNTV was launched in March at FastCompany.TV, and–shall we say–had an inauspicious start.

When GNTV launched, I was not quite ready for prime time. If I was an actor, I would say I was prepared for a summer stock script reading. When the curtain went up, I found myself instead at center stage of an opening night on Broadway with some determined hecklers in the audience who managed for a while to distract me.

Most people seem to agree that I got better. After 14 episodes, I think GNTV has proved its value and professionals hungry for insights into how they can use social media in their businesses have found GNTV to have more than a little value.

A few weeks back, however, FastCompany granted my request to take back GNTV, to remove it from their site and to eventually relaunched it o a smaller scale on this site. Primarily, with FastCompany as a partner, the cost of sponsorship was too high for a new program. Here, I can charge a sponsor significantly less dollars and have great flexibility in the sort of deal I can offer. Here, I am the sole decision maker.

GNTV will go on a brief hiatus, until perhaps mid-August. I need to deal with the complexities of AV, production, storing, hosting, compressing, measuring, etc. Because some of these costs can be quite significant, I also need to have sponsorship before I restart.”

To be fair, Shel has posted a set of links to his 14 GNTV episodes he produced for FastCompany.TV on his blog. This means that assuming you knew he had a blog at all and assuming you saw that one post, you know how you can view his videos. I would guess that he Twittered the information and used whatever other publicity outlets he has at his disposal. However… Someone returning to FastCompany.TV will find that his show’s tab has been replaced with a photography show, and short of putting “Shel Israel” or “Global Neighbourhoods” in the search box, there’s no evidence that his show ever existed.

As far as his plan to relaunch his show on his own site… there goes his google juice. His videos will be available in the future at a completely different address on redcouch.typepad.com instead of fastcompany.tv. What’s the point? The point is that people are still hitting my Cory Lidle plane crash video from October, 2006, because they know where to find it from people’s bookmarks, forum posts and blog links.

If I had been moving that video all over creation, from domain name to domain name, people would hit dead links from the google searches and IME, *NOT* do more creative searches to try to find the same content… They just move on to other content that comes up easily under the google search for the same topic.

Similarly, maybe you have the same site… except your video host fell into the Dead Pool. Recently, VideoEgg discontinued its consumer video service and sent out a notice to people that had videos hosted by them that they were going to cease to host them shortly. Also, DivX’s Stage 6 streaming video site folded. The problem with this is that A LOT OF PEOPLE had videos on their sites which were actually embedded FROM VideoEgg or Stage 6. This means that they had to scramble to a) pull all their videos from those hosts, b) find a new host for all of their now-homeless videos, c) upload all their videos to the new host and d) go to every single post and change the embed code from the Videoegg or Stage 6 location to the new host location. If you happen to have over 300 episodes online, that could be a MAAAAAAAJOR DRAG! πŸ™

So, that’s another thing to consider when you’re ready to make a show on the internet. While you worry about content and worry about being interesting and worry about being entertaining, and worry about getting sponsored and worry about your show being sustainable and worry about growing your audience and worry about creating surrounding social sites… you ALSO have to worry about what happens when your show lands in the Dead Pool. Do you have ownership of your own content after the fact? Do you have ownership of the site that it’s on? Are you going to have to uproot everything and start all over? If you get a new sponsor, can you easily swap the old one out and continue seamlessly creating content?

Believe me, you want to figure out / negotiate all these things UP. FRONT. and NOT when you realize your show that you thought was going to run forever is going down the tubes.

Welcome to the Dead Pool.

Communication [Part 2]

Continued from Communication [Part 1]

So now we get to the point where people have this expectation of entitlement to intrusion. This is one of the reasons why I wrote “Digital Internet Snobbery”. I was getting flak from someone because I am not available by text. This was after I SPECIFICALLY TOLD HER how she could get in touch with me, which was via email… which she can do from her phone if she can text from her phone, so I didn’t see what the problem was. Unfortunately, she had been hoping I was going to live into someone else’s style, and it ain’t that type o’ party. πŸ˜€

I missed the text revolution because I went directly to AIM. The reason I haven’t updated my ancient phone up until now is that I’m available via lots of services which are more efficient for my style of interaction. As a matter of fact, my contact information’s listed in the sidebar to this very post. If you can’t figure out from there how to contact me, I’m still currently the #3 “Bill” on google, behind Gates & Clinton.

I know too many people to be randomly available via phone. I’d never get anything done. Most of what I do requires A LOT of mental processing, as you can tell by these epic posts I keep dropping. I can’t ‘afford’ to get continually taken out of the zone to have random conversations whenever someone feels like contacting me. This is why I herd people towards email or iChat so I can get back to your message when I get back to it. This is why it was so funny to be told that I need to get with the program when it comes to texting, because I’m so far beyond texting. However… Whose problem IS that? πŸ™‚ Is that MY problem, or is that HER problem? Actually, it’s the problem of the person that loses the most if we’re out of contact, which isn’t ME, so that answers that. πŸ™‚

So we got up to text, and like I said, I missed out on the revolution because I was already on AIM (which became iChat when I ditched PCs hahaha, but that’s another story πŸ˜€ ). At this point, instant messaging services are the final frontier, because you can perfectly craft your socialization experience. You inform people via status update whether you’re online or not, and if so, whether you’re likely to respond to a message they send or not. You can inform them if you’re working or AFK (away from keyboard) or fully welcoming conversation. You can turn sound on or off so if you need to concentrate on writing another epic post, you can still receive messages that don’t break your state. You can have an icon bounce in your tray in case you get a message while you’re AFK and your iChat windows are all hidden. This way, you know to check your new messages. You can start or accept audio conversations or video conversations.

Bill using iChat video
Photo Credit: Rob Boudon

Most importantly, you can carry on several completely different conversations at a time, which you can’t do via audio on a phone. This means that if the person you’re talking to is a slow communicator, it doesn’t matter. They’re not hogging your bandwidth, and you’re talking to six other people while you’re waiting for them to send you something back. It also means that if someone’s a flooder, you can minimize their window and respond to them when you feel like reading the novel they wrote. If people are annoying, you block them so you can go about your day without being disturbed. If you want to find out what’s going on tonight, you can message people in different cliques at the same time and you get back what you get back.

However… If you depend on instant messaging services, you’re at a distinct disadvantage when you go out….

I went over to Ryan’s the other day… specifically NOT pictured here on the right…

And hadn’t bothered to put his cell number in my phone, because I didn’t imagine the party would be in the garden out back and not inside his actual apartment, haha so between that fact and the fact that I hadn’t bothered to charge my phone’s battery, I took a short in that situation, haha πŸ™‚ If I had had a modern phone, I could have emailed him or checked my own email for his number or used any number of services to attempt to bypass the physical barrier of being stuck outside a door, buzzing a buzzer that nobody could hear. πŸ™‚ The same thing happened to me going to Justin’s party…

Bill , Marissa & Justin

… but luckily, Amir had to go to the bathroom, so someone was in the apartment to hear me buzzing, haha. πŸ™‚

The point here is that obviously, communication is returning to the pocket from the computer, except in the form of text and visual information instead of voice. Google Maps, GPS, everything’s going back into people’s pockets, specifically at this point in the form of Blackberry devices and iPhones. This is why the iPhone SDK is such a big deal. You get to create something that people all over the world might buy, because you get to place it in the Apple Store, online.

The next big deal is going to be hand-held video chat, so we’ll see if Apple stops ****ing around and releases an iPhone with the camera in the proper location for people to video chat before someone beats them to the punch and Apple gets the fail whale for once! πŸ˜€

Bill Fail Whale

Do you miss potential job and socialization opportunities by not being randomly accessible or checking voicemail? Yes. Definitely. What you receive in return is increased efficiency and focus. By minimizing my distractions, I probably got this post done in 1/2 the time it would have taken otherwise.

Speaking of the dreaded, yet oft-appearing “Fail Whale”… Twitter has found a new way to not crash so often. That’s to implement Denial of Service when it comes to our @ messages. For people unfamiliar with Twitter, you can send a message to someone’s “replies” folder by using the “@” sign with their username, like “Hey @username, what’s going on tonight?”. If you use the website, like I do, instead of using a standalone client, you find out who sent public messages to your attention or mentioned you in your “replies” folder. Without that folder, all you have is the ten latest pages of Twitter posts from the 800+ people that you follow that you can search through if you feel like it and have time to waste, or you can use search sites like TweetScan and Summize, but you’d better hope THEY were able to pull the entries from Twitter themselves.

So that’s where we stand right now. We live in a world where people expect immediate attention and there are lots of ways for them to get that. Are they entitled to it? No. It’s just that “everybody’s doing it”, so you seem to them to be “odd man out” because your phone has a little alien on it that jumps rope, eats apples, skateboards and takes baths when you open the phone up. πŸ˜€ Meanwhile, the fact of the matter is that I went out for a reason… to hang out with specific people or do specific things. IF having my email on me, and my calendar, and my answering machine, and my instant messaging, and my audio software, and my internet browser, and my quicktime player, and my video compression software was important to me, I would have brought my computer and my EV-DO card with me.

The funny thing is, πŸ™‚ when I finally buy an iPhone, or whatever great all-in-one gadget someone comes out with, that’ll only increase my options for technological offense….

Psychologically, I’m not going to be any more accessible than I am today. πŸ˜€