Google Panda and the Capitalists

A search of Google now displays people capitalising on the Google Panda update by displaying services that many people assume will helping you in regaining your Google traffic that was lost when Google updated their algorithm.

I love the tenacity of people that do these things, it’s not hard, but it’s smart. I don’t think it’s long-lived but the clicks are cheap on Adwords and maybe they’ll get some customers of off the back of their efforts.

One of the companies that happens to be taking advantage of other people’s misfortune is Grammarly.com, they offer a SaaS that checks your Grammar. Sounds like a great service if your grammar is poor and you want to hide that your written skill isn’t as good as it should be ;)

Even if it doesn’t help your site regain it’s former traffic glory, it’s not going to do it any harm, seems like a bargain to sound like a written genius for $20 a month too.

Good for Grammarly, it seems like a great service, I think I might just sign up and write a review on how well it works.

Match.com using Deceptive Subscription And Business Practices – Conclusion

I recently wrote about Match Dating and it’s alleged tomfoolery of using highly questionable business practices to keep automatically billing subscribers, the story broke when Match.com was featured on the BBC’s Watchdog program. Here is a link to the post I’m referring to.

I also created a second post which simply showed people what number to use to cancel their accounts so to instruct Match.com subscriptions to cease taking money from their accounts automatically. Here is the number if you’re looking for a way to cancel your Match.com account and don’t want to look through my blog for the previous posts: 0800 368 5856

Shortly after I’d published my opinion on the matter, an apparent customer and ex-subscriber of Match.com named Ruth commented on my blog stating that she was satisfied with the service and cancellation policies that Match.com offers.

However, after investigating who this person was, it became clear that the comment had come from Match.com itself and wasn’t a satisfied customer. Here is a link to the story about the deceptive comment left on my blog.

The final chapter of this rather strange sequence of events is that Match.com contacted money.co.uk and asked to leave an official comment. Match’s official statement is at the end of article featured on Money.co.uk here is a link to the article.

You can draw your own conclusions about Match.com after reading the documents I’ve linked to.

Sky Broadband Connect Package Disgustingly Slow

Don’t complain and then do nothing about your Sky Broadband! Speak your Mind and Vote in our Survey and help towards getting a better deal.  ————->  CLICK HERE TO VOTE IN THE SURVEY – IT TAKES 1 SECOND!

I’ve posted about Sky Broadband before and how terribly slow their broadband offering is. I’ve run several tests today to determine what speed I’m getting versus what I’m paying for. Here is the cold hard truth about Sky Broadband and their ultra slow connect package:

What I’m paying for:

Advertised Maximum Download Speed: 8MB —— >Cost Per Month = £17

What I’m getting:

ACTUAL DOWNLOAD SPEED: 0.24MB

I’m being overcharged by: 3300%

How much slower is my broadband compared to what I was sold? 33 times slower!

What I should be paying a month for this speed: 51 Pence a Month!

Test Details:

Size of test time: 100Mb File

Time to download = 7 Minutes exactly

Summary:

The Sky Connect Broadband is beyond a joke. I’m speechless.

Something needs to be done about this misselling and deceptive behaviour, if you’re in the same boat and tied into a 12 month contract too, please get in touch.


How To Cancel your Match.com Dating Account – Instructions

It appears you can ONLY phone them here is the Match.com dating subscription cancellation telephone number: 0800 368 5856 (This 0800 is now invalid and dead!)

UPDATED MATCH.COM CANCELLATION PHONE NUMBER: 

MATCH.COM HAVE CHANGED THEIR CANCELLATION PHONE NUMBER TO FURTHER CONFUSE THE PROCESS OF CANCELLING YOUR MATCH.COM SUBSCRIPTION!

MATCH.COM PHONE NUMBER FOR CANCELLING YOUR ACCOUNT:

BEFORE you delete your match.com account you first need to cancel your MATCH.com subscription:

For MATCH.COM call on 020 305 96 492 OR FOR matchaffinity.com YOU NEED TO USE THIS NUMBER: 020 305 96 493

The above number is only open during office hours now, as opposed to the previous 24/7 telephone number.

I’ve reviewed their service and apparent deceptive practices in an earlier blog post. Click on this link to read it

Match.com & Deceptive Recurring Billing. Possibly Fraud or Illegal?

If you’re looking for a way to cancel your Match.com dating account or how to cancel your Match.com subscription, the subscription cancellation telephone number is at the end of this blog post.

Match.com have been featured on Watchdog for billing people and leading customers believe that they will not continue to be billed once they have suspended their accounts, they apparently make it very easy to suspend accounts but don’t stop their automatic billing of the subscriptions. The messaging appears to be very ambiguous, downright confusing and very deceptive. I’d go as far as saying it could be fraud, but that’s only my opinion.

If you’re looking for a way to cancel your Match.com account then I believe you have to call them. That appears to be the only channel of cancellation, you don’t have to telephone them to open an account – do you?!

Match would have spent millions channelling you into signing up to their dating website once you had clicked on one of their Google adverts  (called conversion rate optimisation), and it appears they have spent money on making sure you can’t leave either. It’s an atrocity and I think that sort of behaviour is disgusting.

Again, it appears you can only cancel by telephone, here is the Match.com dating subscription cancellation telephone number: 0800 368 5856  (This 0800 number is no longer valid and dead)

UPDATED MATCH.COM CANCELLATION PHONE NUMBER: 

MATCH.COM HAVE CHANGED THEIR CANCELLATION PHONE NUMBER TO FURTHER CONFUSE THE PROCESS OF CANCELLING YOUR MATCH.COM SUBSCRIPTION!

MATCH.COM PHONE NUMBER FOR CANCELLING YOUR ACCOUNT:

BEFORE you delete your match.com account you first need to cancel your MATCH.com subscription:

For MATCH.COM call on 020 305 96 492 OR FOR matchaffinity.com YOU NEED TO USE THIS NUMBER: 020 305 96 493

The above number is only open during office hours now, as opposed to the previous 24/7 telephone number.

Outrageous – shame on you Match.com. 

Update:

Alexander King (Alex) is the Head of UK Customer Care for Match.com – perhaps try and find out what his email address is and email him personally for a refund.

Please leave comments if you have any further information which may help people get a refund or otherwise.

Scoot.co.uk Hosting Review

Scoot is the worst hosting company and domain management service I have ever had the displeasure of dealing with. If you’re considering them as a host for your website, don’t. The service and security is terrible.

A bit of background to this review:

I manage a customers website which is hosted with Scoot, unfortunately he was already signed up to Scoot.co.uk when I started working on his website. I can only describe my experience with Scoot as nothing but poor and here are my reasons why:

1. There is no security on the phone when they hand out customer details. I had to get the FTP details for their server and the receptionist gave them to me over the phone without checking who I was! Outrageous.

2. Their web server was hacked and my customers website was infected with Malware, when I questioned them and asked them to do something about it, they refused point blank and blamed me for giving out their server details. WTF.

3. Their server has on more than one occasion gone down on a Friday and has then stayed offline until following Monday. It’s as if their tech support don’t work weekends. It brings the email down with it at the same time, this means no emails for my customer while they are down. Very bad for his small business which relies on daily trade.

4. The actual customer service is disgusting, their response time to requests is sometimes weeks or never and the image they paint of themselves if complete incompetence. Requests take repeated nagging which can mean days or even weeks before they rectify the situation.

5. Their hosting is extremely expensive compared to what you can get it for in a million other places.

6. Their Keyword Trackz product is a joke, if you’re prepared to pay money for something this pointless then you probably deserve to be ripped off when you can get it for free in Google’s Webmaster tools.

In summary:

While this review is completely my opinion, I believe their service is awful and I strongly suggest you avoid them for hosting at all costs. That’s not to say they don’t have happy customers too. Somewhere.

Google Panda Update – Information from Google about a Possible Recovery. Finally.

I’m sure many of you by now have seen the short conversation between Matt Cutts and Tom Critchlow regarding the length of time it takes to recover from a Google Panda Penalty. I’m going to offer my comment on this exchange and why I think it’s important. I’ll try to not guess or read into things that may or may not exist. I’ll also attempt to keep to the facts and what I know about Search Engines and how they work, particularly Google.

Here is the conversation between the two of them in-case you missed it:

================

Tom Critchlow: @mattcutts “assuming a site completely reworks their site/content after panda, how long before they will regain traffic?”

Matt Responds with:

Matt Cutts: @tomcritchlow “short version is that it’s not data that’s updated daily right now. More like when we re-run the algorithms to regen the data.

================

Now dissecting Matt’s <140 character response (yes, I’m laughing too) here is my analysis of what was said and the intent behind it: [Assumed important parts are in bold above ^^^]

1.   “not data that’s updated daily right now.”

My interpretation: This barely needs an explanation except the part where Matt says “right now”, that could mean anything and the door has been left wide open so they can make changes as and when without pressure of time constraints or criticism. This may mean that Panda is in a sort of “Beta” mode (although it’s not) but I believe there is still a lot more to come from this algorithm change and it maybe being controlled manually until they feel able to let it loose on it’s own. It’s such a significant change that it could create huge problems in many ways if it went wrong, although that’s pure conjecture and only my opinion.

2. “when we re-run the algorithms to regen the data

My interpretation: This would explain why there are no people shouting about a recovery I think. We don’t know when they re-run the algorithm or if they have yet. I think that Labnol and Cult of the Mac are strange anomalies and shouldn’t be considered in the analysis or thesis of solutions and fixes.

Summary:

  • It appears as though recoveries from the Google Panda Update are possible, this applies to the UK , USA and other English speaking countries.
  • There is a delay for whatever reason. I don’t think it matters what that reason is though. I can only assume it’ll be between two and six months.
  • Matt has covered his back by using words like “right now” and “when”. This means it could all change without prior warning or notification, hardly a revelation considering Google, especially recently.

Well, I guess that means even more waiting, possibly for a while yet.  If you are working on your websites, I suggest you keep a log of what you’ve changed and “improved” and apply different sets of changes to separate websites, if possible. This is to attempt to understand what changes would’ve actually made a difference when Google eventually decide to refresh their data. It should be noted that Google-Bot crawled sites very, very aggressively and deeply a few days before Panda and I’d keep a look out for another huge crawling spike, if you see  uncharacteristic crawling patterns (usually massive increases), then you can probably assume a new set of data will be applied to the algo and some changes should follow fairly imminently. Let’s hope they’re positive.

Here is a quote from another Googler by the name of John Mu who made a fairly powerful and factually incorrect statement about Google Panda a couple of months ago. I doubt that he was purposefully spreading misinformation, rather  he was misinformed or assumed that the Google Panda portion of the algo worked in a similar fashion to how Google’s algorithm used to rank URL’s:

Hi Immys
This is not limited to this particular algorithm update & your site, but I’d like to mention it regardless:
I can assure you that our algorithms are not one-way streets. As a website is updated, recrawled, reindexed, and with that, the site’s signals reassessed, our algorithms will take those changes into account and treat the website accordingly. There are countless examples of that happening here in the forums, I see them regularly.
That process is usually not something that takes place overnight after a webmaster has uploaded a fresh copy of the code for the website. For example, it takes time for us to recrawl the pages, the bigger the site, the longer it will take. The better a site is structured (less duplicate content, no infinite URL spaces, etc), the faster we’ll be able to recrawl parts of a site and take that content into consideration. Sometimes, even after recrawling parts of a site, our algorithms will need a bit of time to confirm that the site has really changed for good.
All of this can and will take time. Personally, I’d recommend not waiting to see if a single, small change will make a difference, our algorithms rarely have a “one-track-mind,” they take many factors into account. Because of that, I’d recommend always continuing to work on your site, to improve it, expand it, to get feedback from your users and to take action on that feedback (happy users come back and recommend your site to their friends!). Even when you start to see changes, don’t stop there — make your site into the best resource of it’s kind.
Hope it helps!
John

He makes a few very interesting statements though:

1. He assumed correctly there would be a delay in getting your traffic back or knew there would be.

2. He suggests making multiple changes at a time, this is probably to obfuscate what the Panda signals might be. If you want to figure out what caused your website pain before, I don’t suggest you follow his advice.

3. It is suggested that Google uses more than one signal to determine whether you get punished,  we assumed this anyway as Google uses hundreds of signals to rank websites as it is, no surprises here.

Anything you read outside of the official Google channels should be treated with a pinch of salt, if it’s not said by Matt, Amit or on the official Google blog, then I’d not take it as something that should be seriously considered. In fact, I wouldn’t take anything as “pure fact” from Google it’s usually very vague and subjective, even from the official channels at the best of times.  Use your own channels garnered from multiple authority sources to make your own mind up. I have to say, using your common sense is probably the best advice until there is some concrete evidence of what works and what doesn’t.

Here is to a a good recovery. Cheers, Chris.

Google Music Cloud Launches…

Google is launching their own music cloud called “Music Beta by Google”. The basic principal behind the service is so you can upload your own personal music to the Google Cloud. AKA Server farm and then listen to it from anywhere with a music connection.

Is this the Death of the Ipod already? Now all that’s required is a set of headphones connected to the internet via a phone or computer, when the internet infrastructure is good enough in the Western world that is. Wouldn’t this be a diabolical waste of time and resource for Google when services like Spotify are just gaining traction? People won’t buy music in the near future, they will stream it for free.

I’ve heard that Google have negotiated with the four big music labels, although, if it’s your own private music, I’m not sure why this is such a big deal. There must be more to come from this service, Spotify V2.0. Sounds promising indeed.

The new Google music cloud storage product will begin as an invitation service only service and will be exclusive to the the United States initially. It’ll also be free. Good old Google with their quest to own the internet, we get all these amazing free services to help the mighty Goog extract even more advertising money from businesses.  Thanks for being so money hungry Google, the side effect is magical.

Apple Trumps Google as Worlds Most Valuable Brand – In the Worlds Most Pointless Research.

Another year and another pointless survey run by yet another company called WPP using a side “brand” called Brandz to conduct the “research”. They use big name companies to boost their own brand “equity” and revenue.  Google one year, Apple the next and possibly Facebook in a few years. Or perhaps Marlboro, Tesco, Mercedes Benz or even Hermes will win in years to come *yawn*.

This must be the most contrived study I’ve ever seen,  you can’t compare these companies. It’s impossible to take thousands of opinions all of which are subjective, mash in some other random metrics, work the data until it looks “cool” and then announce a winner. It pure fiction based on a bunch of immeasurable made up rules. It’s comparing Apples against carpets and pencil sharpeners against fuel additives. They are incompatible and the study is about as useful as a waterproof teabag.

This research reminds me of  “car of the year” contests that are run by many large organisations and publications where  they often compare Ferraris with Hummers and Toyota Prius’ with amphibious vehicles. – It’s really lame and stupid and the results mean zero. There is nothing to compare, they are designed to do completely different jobs and tasks. A Ferrari can’t climb cliffs, a Hummer is a terrible race car and a Smart Car doesn’t go in water. The only possible way to compare anything properly is to do it in a controlled environment and test whatever it is you’re wanting to compare using the exact same method.  Whether it’s a car, washing machine or even a “brand”. If you can’t run objective tests, then it’s not research and the results are totally subjective.

I am impressed with the level of interest they have built around this pseudo research though,  It’s something which is commendable in all seriousness. If in the future, I ever need an agency to help promote one of my companies or products, I’ll seriously consider asking WPP to take me on as a client. If they can pull off this gimmick year after year, they will be able to take a high quality product and turn it into a market leader with their creative flair and connections.

Marketing lesson taught by WPP (Brandz): Wrapping a brick of lead in a thin film of gold foil is as good as having a 24 Karat solid gold brick. Getting people to believe that what you offer is special and valuable is incredibly easy if you act as though it is. Create a high level of perceived value and you’re 95% of the way to achieving your goals.

Jemima Khan and Jeremy Clarkson Super Injunction – Pointless

I’m amazed that gagging orders are still even remotely effective these days. The latest “scandal” (I use that word lightly) revolves around a few celebrities that like to have sex with one another. The UK newspapers, especially the tabloids are utterly ruthless when it comes to exposing people and their private lives, it’s pretty disgusting and I don’t agree with it at all.

However, I don’t believe that people should have the power to control the press by using the law either. It’s bizarre and very open to abuse. Especially by people in politics.

Wouldn’t the UK be better place if publishers didn’t have to destroy peoples marriages to sell their sleezy snot rags and newspaper editors actually had some morals, and EVEN showed some respect t0 the people they were about to send into proverbial hell? Unlikely.

Gagging orders are a joke, if you want something published that will circumvent UK law then release it on a websites that are not affiliated to the UK. It’s as easy as 1-2-3. The laws don’t apply then and even if it’s forcibly taken down with international lawsuits, it would’ve become viral  by then and everyone will know by then any way. Look at what happened with Max Mosley, it was impossible to control.

Gagging orders are an abuse of the law in most cases. It’s disgusting and no matter who you are, you shouldn’t be using them to cover up your personal affairs.

So Jeremy Clarkson, Jemima Khan, Wayne Rooney, Actors, Actresses and any other people who don’t want their personal parts ;) being exposed, don’t get caught.

If you know of a gagging order that will take place and don’t want these draconian laws being abused, send me an email. I’ll publish it here and there isn’t a thing anyone can do about it either.