The title of this blog is “Living in a world of Apple and Google”. I have felt this particularly strongly in the past few weeks. Yesterday, I received an unpleasant surprise from Google. They informed me that Google was “manually penalizing our site”, www.historycentral.com for link fraud. To those of you who do not know, “link fraud” is the practice of accepting paid text links on your website as a form of advertising. These links were often placed there by companies that wanted to increase the overall number of links on their web site. We used to accept these paid links 10 years ago (and it was fairly lucrative). Paid links provided another form of revenue. Importantly, paid links provided the opportunity of additional revenue that was not intrusive to our users. However, the gods of Google deemed that these links were placed to fool their search engine, (and of course, not to mention that paid links provided independent revenue not going through Google.) As a result, we took all of these links down years ago. At the moment we have no paid text links on our site. However, we do (or should I say did) have many outgoing links that we placed to other websites– related to topics on our site– that we thought were good additional internet resources. We are in the process of removing ALL the links across our website, since there may be a few that Google does not like. Before we resubmit our website to Google for review we will eliminate any links, since a “manual penalty” from Google means your site cannot be found in Google, and of course, that is death for a content site.
This is not our first “run-in” with the rules of Google. Two years ago we were accused of “click fraud” (that is when you click on ads on your own site), something we certainly did not do. We appealed the judgement, but were turned down. As a result, all Google ads were removed from our site. This caused a large loss of revenue. Our company has been working with Google since they began. Fortunately, we were eventually able to reach a senior person in Google who intervened on our behalf– and even apologized. However, Google still kept a few thousand dollars of ad revenue that was owed us.
Then there was the big “Panda update” of Google’s search engine. That update penalized a company for maintaining a site with “duplicate content”. Google’s new algorithm did not care who uploaded the content first. Any company found to have duplicate content would be penalized. Our website has a great deal of duplicate content. We have numerous original source documents on our site. For example, we digitized the Dictionary of American Fighting Ships from the U.S. Navy in the 1990’s to use in our CD rom. Then, we put all of this material up on the web– long before anyone else. This material is PD (public domain), as are our source documents. S.E.O. (search engine optimization) experts suggested we remove all this PD material. However, that seemed (and still seems) ridiculous! We invested a great deal of time in obtaining this material. More importantly, the material is relevant to those who use our site, and these documents are related to our other content. So, we have decided to take a chance an absorb the ding in our site rating from Google. It’s probably the wrong decision, but so far we are sticking to it.
Finally, (since this is a blog about Apple and Google) a few words about Apple and iOs7. The newest iOS has been out for a few weeks now. Yesterday, Apple approved our first app written in Xcode 5 for iOS 7 only, entitled, FDR: History Maker. I have very mixed feelings about the matter. On one hand, as a consumer, I genuinely like the new iOs. It is clean, has some really nice new features, and is well done. Xcode 5 is still a little buggy, but, all-in-all, it works well. Of course, as a developer with over 60 apps on sale on the App Store, it has presented us with a real dilemma… How much effort should we put into updating our old apps? It is clear they need at least cosmetic updating, though some could use a more complete redo. (We are now in the middle of a complete redo of one our apps). But Apple has forced us to put a major effort into making changes without providing us with any way of being compensated. In the Apple ecosystem, there is no way to charge for an upgrade on the App store. We do not feel comfortable forcing customers to pay the full price again. In addition, when we complete our new products, we want as many people to see it as possible them. So, once again, we grin and bear it.
At least Apple and Google are making a great deal of money…