Google’s reinclusion nightmare

John Honeck has an excellent piece about the challenges with Google’s site reinclusion process, a virtual nightmare of inconsistency and confusion.     I’ve seen the benefits and pitfalls of good and bad Google rankings and indexing at many sites, and “inconsistency” is the only clear pattern.    On the one hand I don’t have enough information to fully “blame” Google for the problems.  They have their hands full deleting junk or deceptive sites created by extremely sophisticated spamming operations around the globe, but as I noted over at John’s blog:

This is an *excellent* set of observations, and with all due respect to my pal Matt I’ve always been totally unmoved by Google’s suggestion that making the reinclusion and webmaster information process more transparent would somehow jeopardize Google’s ability to kill spammers.

In fact from my observations over the years I think the lack of transparency, along with initally vague webmaster guidelines (now fixed), have caused many if not most of the spam problems as both spammers and regular web folks vie to push the limits of the rules while staying in Google’s good graces. The big problem now is the profound inconsistency in the way sites are indexed, and the fact that it’s very difficult for webmasters to get much feedback from Google.  Google would be well advised to consider better automated or customer pays routines to examine websites for problems and allow reinclusion, because the frustration is building more than they realize in the webmaster and small business community.

Chico the Snow Wonder Dog

TalentSnow2008 024Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

We’re not quite sure what Chico the Wonder Dog was thinking, but he’s having fun in our huge Southern Oregon Snowstorm with snow deeper than I’ve seen in 20 years here – about 10 inches last night with more to come..

Current TV filing for $100,000,000 IPO. Initial PE ratio = infinity!

Today Current TV, with Al Gore a prominent investor, is filing for a big IPO.    But there is a problem.   They lost a lot of money “making” their 64 million in revenues last year.     Will they ever be profitable?  Global warming or not, I’m guessing they will be profitable about the same time that hell freezes over.

I still just don’t get it.  I understand why video clips are fun and a significant development online, but I don’t get those who express *economic* enthusiasm for online videos produced by … you and me.   As I’ve noted before about online video, I don’t understand why people think video sites can make money.   Youtube cost Google 1.6 billion but doesn’t make money.   Podtech had a brilliant, well executed, forward vision of the online video landscape.   They even had the ultimate forward looking blogger spokesmodel Robert Scoble (who has just moved to and is right now hanging in Davos with the uber-economic-elite).  Despite this Podtech failed to deliver on the promise of monetizing quality content to the larger user base.   I had a chance to talk about this with John Furrier at CES.   John told me he’s still very bullish on video, but Podtech is going to focus more on a model where they’ll be producing company videos for corporate clients, helping them to leverage social media advantages.   We also talked about how hungry many big companies are for those who understand social media and want to leverage that power to their corporate advantage.    This, in my opinion, is where you’ll see most video and podcasast production efforts moving over the next few years.   The money is in leading corporate clients into the uncharted social media waters rather than trying to build website visitation and monetize clips.   The latter is a very dead end in my view.

So, should you invest in Current TV’s IPO?   Sure you should, right after hell freezes over.

Yahoo carnage coming at conference call.

As a Yahoo enthusiast and shareholder it’s been hard to watch the company struggle so hard over the past few years only to lose ground to Google, especially because Yahoo’s social networking efforts and web 2.0 initiatives have in most ways been superior to Google’s.    Flickr is the best example of a superb Yahoo application that is more used than Google’s Picasa (which is also excellent but was late to the scene so most early adopters are sticking with Flickr, which is somewhat better anyway in my view).  

Henry Blodget at Silicon Valley Insider is reporting that Yahoo will proceed soon with the drastic layoff scenario – rumored to be some 1500-2500 people.

Human issues aside, this will likely be very good for the stock price and company’s future prospects.    Google learned early on that the key to profitability was scaling up systems without comparable scaling up of staff.   Google thus leveraged the incredible efficiency of computers to generate more profits.   Yahoo, on the other hand and especially with Terry Semel in charge, sees themselves as more of a media and content producer with all the labor intensiveness and lack of internet efficiency that approach entails.    Google was right, Yahoo was wrong.    Even Google’s own Youtube, a masterpiece of creating cheap content without staff, is struggling to monetize all the content and traffic.    

I’m oversimplifying the relationship of content production to profit here, but in general terms I continue to believe that the expression “content is king” was *never* true on the internet, and that in many ways sticking to this mantra cost Yahoo a big part of the ballgame.    Yahoo actually used Google search as Yahoo’s search tool for many years, and could certainly have aquired Google in the early days for millions of dollars rather than becoming eclipsed by Google which now has a market capitalization of about five times Yahoo.   Why didn’t they do it?    Google was “search”, not “content”, and Yahoo foolishly believed content was king.    

Content is a pawn in the big online chess game, and don’t forget it.