Posts tagged ‘Duck Duck Go’


What search engines show in their top 10 isn’t always relevant

09.08.2022

The Bing collapse did lead me to look at some of the ancient pages on the Lucire site that the search engines were still very fond of. For instance, the ‘About’ page was still appearing up top, which is bizarre since we haven’t made any links to it for years—it reflected our history in 2004.

Naturally, once I updated it, it promptly disappeared from Bing! Too new for Microsoft’s own Wayback Machine!

I was always told that you shouldn’t delete old pages, and that 301s were the best solution. I’m enough of a computing neophyte to not know how to implement 301s (.htaccess doesn’t work, at least not on our set-up) and page refreshes are often frowned upon, which is why so many old pages are still there.

However, you would naturally expect that a web spider following links would not rank anything that hasn’t been linked to for over a decade very highly. If the spider comes in, picks up the latest stuff from your home page, possibly the latest stuff from individual topic pages, it would figure out what all of these were linking to, and conclude that something from 2000 that was buried deep within the site was no longer current, or of only passing interest to surfers.

I realize I’ve had a go at search engines for burying relevant things in favour of novel things, but we’re talking pages here that aren’t even relevant. ‘About’ I’ll let them have, but a 2000 book reviews’ page? A subject index page from 2005 that hasn’t been linked to since 2005, and the pages that do are well outnumbered by newer ones? Because, the deletion of ‘About’ aside, here is what Bing thinks is the most important for site:lucire.com:
 

 

Google fares a little better. Our home page and current print edition ordering page are top, shopping is third, followed by the fashion contents’ page (makes sense). ‘About’ comes in fifth, for whatever reason, then a 2005 competition page that we should probably delete (it refreshes to another page from 2005—so much for refresh pages being bad for search engines).

Seventh is yet another ancient page from 2005, namely a frameset—which I’ve since updated so at least the main frame loads something current. The remainder are articles from 2011, 2022 and 2016. The next page comprises articles and tags, which seem to make sense.

Mojeek actually makes more sense than Google. Home page in first, the news page (the next most-updated) is second, followed by the travel contents’ page. Then there are two older print edition pages (2020 and 2012), followed by a bunch of articles (2013, 2014, 2013, 2013), and the directory page for Lucire TV. There’s nothing here that I find strange: everything is logically found by a spider going through the site, and maybe those four articles from the 2010s are relevant to the word Lucire (given that you can’t do site: searches on Mojeek without a keyword, so it repeats the word before the TLD)? The reference to the 2012 issue might be down to my having mentioned it recently during our 25th anniversary posts. But there are no refresh pages and no framesets.

Startpage, not Google, has a couple of frameset pages from 2000 and 2002 in their top 10 which again weren’t linked to, at least not purposefully (they were placed there to catch people trying to look at the directory index in the old days). There’s incredibly little “link juice” to these pages. However, ‘About’ (in 10th), and these two framesets aside, its Google-sourced results fare remarkably well. In order: home page, print edition ordering page, the two framesets, the news section, the shopping page (barely updated but I can see why it’s there), the community page, Lucire TV, the fashion contents, ‘About’.

Duck Duck Go is so compromised by Bing that it barely merits a mention here. Four pages from 2000 and 2005 that no current page links, a 404 page that we’ve never even had on our site (!), articles from 2021, 2018, 2007 and 2000 (in that order), and a PDF (!) from 2004. Fancy having a 404 that never even existed in the top 10!

If I had my way, it’d be home page, followed by the different sections’ contents’ pages, then the most popular article—though if a couple of articles go (or went) viral, then I’d expect them sooner.

Both Mojeek and Google do well here, with four of these pages each in their top 10s. But it’s Startpage’s unfiltered Google results that do best, hitting linked, relevant pages in seven results out of the top 10. Bing and its licensees miss the mark completely. If you must have a Google bias, then Startpage is the way to go; for our purposes, Mojeek remains the better option.
 
★★★★★★★☆☆☆ Startpage
★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ Mojeek
★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ Google
★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Virtual Mirage
★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Baidu
★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Yandex
☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Bing
☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Qwant
☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Swisscows
☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Brave
☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Duck Duck Go (would give –1 for the 404 if I could)

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Posted in France, internet, New Zealand, publishing, technology, UK, USA | No Comments »


Mojeek shows more in its search results than Google

02.08.2022

This was something I had forgotten when doing the numbers on how many pages each search engine had indexed from our sites: what they claim to be their index size and what they let you access are two different things.

And in Lucire’s case, Google, curiously, mostly does not allow access to our dynamic pages in PHP in its main index, reserving them for Google News. Google News, however, has both PHP and HTML. It’s only when you feed in a specific request for one of our stories that we know is on a PHP-generated page that it comes up in the main index’s results.

Let me explain. Remember this from a blog post in July? These are what the search engines said they had indexed for lucire.com (in a site:lucire.com search). I’ve updated it for August 2 and added one more search engine, Yep, another independent, out of interest.
 
Google: 10,600
Mojeek: 3,593
Duck Duck Go: 50
Brave: 19
Bing: 10
Yep: 10
 

But can you see 10,600? Here’s the reality of what is truly visible at the moment when you browse the results’ pages of each search engine as of today:
 
Google: 304
Mojeek: 1,000
Duck Duck Go: 50
Brave: 19
Bing: 10
Yep: 10
 


Above: Google (top) shows fewer pages than Mojeek in a site: search.
 

Mojeek maxes out at 1,000 by design, but like Google, it will find a specific article outside of the 1,000 shown if searched for. Google conks out at 304 (303 when I first did this test).

The bigger Google index is its advantage, but Mojeek does a fine job by sharing more in its results’ pages than Google does—over three times as many. Another win for the plucky independent out of the UK.
 
While we’re on the subject, notice how small the Bing index is getting, returning just 10 pages for lucire.com? It’s really collapsed in a big way. Feeding in the other sites I tested earlier, Bing shows declines all round, apart from Travel & Leisure.

Fancy having only 2,723 results from The New York Times, down from 1,190,000 on the 24th ult. Mojeek has over 1,000 times more than Bing, and Google over 12 times more than that.

Previous numbers in parentheses below.
 
Die Zeit
Google: 2,710,000 (2,600,000)
Mojeek: 4,891 (4,796)
Bing: 3,268 (3,770)
 
Annabelle (Switzerland)
Google: 11,900 (11,700)
Mojeek: 408 (405)
Bing: 26 (105)
 
Holly Jahangiri
Google: 618 (738)
Mojeek: 236 (222)
Bing: 10 (49)
 
The Gloss (Ireland)
Google: 17,600 (19,200)
Mojeek: 2,009 (1,968)
Bing: 20 (71)
 
The New York Times
Google: 36,500,000 (36,200,000)
Mojeek: 2,879,513 (2,823,329)
Bing: 2,723 (1,190,000)
 
Lucire
Google: 10,600 (6,050)
Mojeek: 3,593 (3,572)
Bing: 10 (50)
 
The Rake
Google: 11,100 (11,500)
Mojeek: 1,445 (1,443)
Bing: 16, but claims 4! (49)
 

 
Travel & Leisure
Google: 33,500 (28,100)
Mojeek: 10,081 (9,750)
Bing: 383 (220)
 
Microsoft
Google: 118,000,000 (122,000,000)
Bing: 1,927,118 (14,200,000)
Mojeek: 1,772,165 (1,748,199)
 
Detective Marketing
Google: 961 (998)
Mojeek: 579 (579)
Bing: 16 (51)

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Posted in internet, technology, UK, USA | No Comments »


Putting the search engines through their paces

24.07.2022

One more, and I might give the subject a rest. Here I test the search engines for the term Lucire. This paints quite a different picture.

Lucire is an established site, dating from 1997, indexed by all major search engines from the start. The word did not exist online till the site began. It does exist in old Romanian. There is a (not oft-used) Spanish conjugated verb, I believe, spelt the same.

The original site is very well linked online, as you might expect after 25 years. You would normally expect, given its age and the inbound links, to see lucire.com at the top of any index.

There is a Dr Yolande Lucire in Australia whom I know, who I’m used to seeing in the search engine results.

The scores are simply for getting relevant sites to us into the top 10, and no judgement is made about their quality or relevance.
 
Google
lucire.com
twitter.com
lucire.net
instagram.com
wikipedia.org
linkedin.com
facebook.com
pinterest.nz
neighbourly.co.nz
—I hate to say it, as someone who dislikes Google, but all of the top 10 results are relevant. Fair play. Then again, with the milliards it has, and with this as its original product, it should do well. 10/10
 
Mojeek
scopalto.com
lucirerouge.com
lucire.net
lucire.com
mujerhoy.com
portalfeminino.com
paperblog.com
dailymotion.com
eldiablovistedezara.net
hispanaglobal.com
Mojeek might be flavour of the month for me, but these results are disappointing. Scopalto retails Lucire in France, so that’s fair enough, but disappointing to see the original lucire.com site in fourth. Fifth, sixth, seventh, ninth and tenth are irrelevant and relate to the Spanish word lucir. You’d have to get to no. 25 to see Lucire again, for Yola’s website. Then it’s more lucir results till no. 52, the personal website of one of our editors. 5/10
 
Swisscows
lucire.net
wikipedia.org
lucire.com
spanishdict.com
lucire.net
lucire.com
drlucire.com
facebook.com
spanishdict.com
viyeshierelucre.com
—Considering it sources from Bing, it makes the same mistakes by placing the rarely linked lucire.net up top, and lucire.com in third. Fourth, ninth and tenth are irrelevant, and the last two relate to different words. Yola’s site is seventh, which is fair enough. 6/10
 
Baidu
lucire.net
lucire.com
lucire.cc
lucire.com
kanguowai.com
hhlink.com
vocapp.com
forvo.com
kuwo.cn
lucirehome.com
—Interesting mixture here. Strange, too, that lucire.net comes up top. We own lucire.cc but it’s now a forwarding domain (it was once our link shortener, up to a decade ago). Seventh and ninth relate to the Romanian word strălucire and eighth to the Romanian word lucire. The tenth domain is an old one, succeeded a couple of years ago by lucirerouge.com. Not very current, then. 7/10
 
Startpage
lucire.com
lucire.com
lucire.net
instagram.com
wikipedia.org
linkedin.com
facebook.com
pinterest.nz
fashionmodeldirectory.com
twitter.com
—All relevant, as expected, since it’s all sourced from Google. 10/10
 
Virtual Mirage
lucire.com
instagram.com
wikipedia.org
lucire.net
facebook.com
linkedin.com
pinterest.nz
lucirerouge.com
nih.gov
twitter.com
—I don’t know much about this search engine, since I only heard about it from Holly Jahangiri earlier today. A very good effort, with only the ninth one being irrelevant to us: it’s a paper co-written by Yola. 9/10
 
Yandex
lucire.com
lucire.net
facebook.com
twitter.com
wikipedia.org
instagram.com
wikipedia.eu
pinterest.nz
en-academic.com
wikiru.wiki
—This is the Russian version. All are relevant, and they are fairly expected, other than the ninth result which I’ve not come across this high before, although it still relates to Lucire. 10/10
 
Bing
lucire.net
wikipedia.org
lucire.com
spanishdict.com
lucire.com
facebook.com
drlucire.com
spanishdict.com
twitter.com
lucirahealth.com
—How Bing has slipped. There are sites here relating to the Spanish word lucirse and to Lucira, who makes PCR tests for COVID-19. One is for Yola. 7/10
 
Qwant.com
lucire.net
wikipedia.org
spanishdict.com
drlucire.com
spanishdict.com
tumblr.com
lucirahealth.com
lacire.co
amazon.com
lucirahealth.com
—For a Bing-licensed site, this is even worse. No surprise to see lucire.com gone here, given how inconsistently Bing has treated it of late. But there are results here for Lucira and a company called La Cire. The Amazon link is also for Lucira. 3/10
 
Qwant.fr
lucire.net
wikipedia.org
reverso.net
luciremen.com
lucire.com
twitter.com
lacire.co
lucirahealth.com
viyeshierelucre.com
lucirahealth.com
—The sites change slightly if you use the search box at qwant.fr. The Reverso page is for the Spanish word luciré. Sixth through tenth are irrelevant and do not even relate to the search term. Eleventh and twelfth are for lucire.com and facebook.com, so there were more relevant pages to come. The ranking or relevant results, then, leaves something to be desired. 5/10
 
Duck Duck Go
lucire.com
lucire.net
wikipedia.org
spanishdict.com
drlucire.com
spanishdict.com
lucirahealth.com
amazon.com
lacire.co
luciremen.com
—Well, at least the Duck puts lucire.com up top, and the home page at that (even if Bing can’t). Only four relevant results, with Lucire Men coming in at tenth. 4/10
 
Brave
lucire.com
instagram.com
twitter.com
wikipedia.org
linkedin.com
lucire.net
facebook.com
fashion.net
wiktionary.org
nsw.gov.au
—For the new entrant, not a bad start. Shame about the smaller index size. All of these relate to us except the last two, one a dictionary and the other referring to Yolande Lucire. 8/10
 

The results are surprising from these first results’ pages.
 
★★★★★★★★★★ Google
★★★★★★★★★★ Yandex
★★★★★★★★★★ Startpage
★★★★★★★★★☆ Virtual Mirage
★★★★★★★★☆☆ Brave
★★★★★★★☆☆☆ Baidu
★★★★★★★☆☆☆ Bing
★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ Swisscows
★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ Mojeek
★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ Qwant.fr
★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ Duck Duck Go
★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Qwant.com
 

It doesn’t change my mind about the suitability of Mojeek for internal searches though. It’s still the one with the largest index aside from Google, and it doesn’t track you.

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Posted in China, France, internet, publishing, technology, UK, USA | 2 Comments »


Bing is definitely very broken, and it’s hurting Duck Duck Go

23.07.2022

The last few days have been about ‘How awesome is Mojeek?’ and ‘How shit is Bing?’

I’m finding great search results from Mojeek, and as a site search for Lucire, it’s absolutely brilliant. Blows Duck Duck Go (Bing with privacy) away, even back when DDG had a reasonably comprehensive index of our pages (before the HTTPS switch). I don’t have to subject anyone to Google tracking, and I didn’t have the hassle of installing an internal search ourselves.

Cisene, who I met via Mastodon, very helpfully suggested on that social network that I submit site maps for the Lucire website as that would take a reasonably short time to remedy Bing’s ills. I’ve never had to do them for Google or Mojeek: their spiders work as they have always done since the dawn of search engines. For some reason, Bing needs its hand held if I want it to have thousands of pages again, as it did earlier this year.

One thing I found curious with Bing is its insistence, in a site search, to place a page that we have not linked to since 2005 at the very top. Of course I could delete the page or program in a forwarder, or make a 301, but I was also once told that dead links and forwarders were bad things for search engines. Our ‘About’ page also ranks highly in all search engines, despite not being linked to in anything we’ve done in over 15 years as well.

But where’s the home page? Happily, after submitting site maps, Bing’s index of our pages went from 10 to a whopping 55, and the home page appeared for the first time in a site:lucire.com search:
 

 

‘It’s an improvement,’ I thought, though the search engine is still massively handicapped compared to where it was at the start of 2022.

Checking on Bing Webmaster Tools to see where things were, I was curious to see it claim that it could not crawl or index our home page though it was discovered in 2018:
 

 

But you just crawled and indexed it. Which is it?

The excuses this time (as Big Tech people love to make stuff that blames users) are that there are no <H1> tags (I’ve got news for you, Bing: we don’t use them, and why should we? There was never any rule that stated that headlines must be between them, and no one else seems to care) and that the description is too long (again, it was fine for you before—and actually you’ve just shown that it is fine).

They aren’t in the business of search though, as their explanations reveal. It’s seach:
 

 
Goodness knows how many years that’s been there, ignored.

It’s all so slap-dash and unprofessional, and as Duck Duck Go search results are based on Bing’s, I’m going to have to stop recommending it. Fortunately, I found Mojeek at the perfect time.

I’m also discovering that maybe Bing can no longer handle more than 50-odd pages per site anyway, which, of course, makes it useless as an engine that powers a site search. (Like I keep saying, the defunct Excite in the 1990s could do better. Any search engine from those days could spider and index more effectively.) It would be in line with other Microsoft products, such as Notepad, where the software giant now prevents us from typing £ or , except, presumably, people from the countries where those are the common, keyboard-accessible currency symbols. Want to write Cæsar drinks Nescafé? You can try, but the diphthong and é will be missing.

Today I searched site:autocade.net on Bing. Now, we never switched Autocade to HTTPS. After how all our sites fell, would you risk it? This site is dependent on search-engine traffic.

And here are the number of pages each search engine brings up for a site search.
 
Google: 4,080
Mojeek: 3,348
Bing: 51
Duck Duck Go: 50
Brave: 17 (plus 4 underneath first entry)
 

So I can’t keep blaming the switch to HTTPS, though our troubles with all search engines I knew of then began around this time. Autocade still slipped in Bing despite no down time; we went to a newer Mediawiki version, but that was about it. Everything progressed as it always did.

Google eventually allowed things to recover (for the most part) with the exception of our company website (which rose up to 13th before dropping to 26th today), Mojeek never even had an issue to begin with, but Bing and Duck Duck Go don’t link to Jack Yan & Associates’ website till after the 40th position.

So where are we now with the sites I last looked at?
 
Number of results for site:lucire.com
Google: 6,250
Mojeek: 3,563
Bing: 53
Duck Duck Go: 53
Brave: 15 (plus 4 underneath first entry)
 
Number of results for site:jackyan.com
Google: 1,860
Mojeek: 438
Duck Duck Go: 54
Bing: 43
Brave: 13 (plus 4 underneath first entry)
 
Number of results for site:jyanet.com
Google: 743
Mojeek: 296
Bing: 49
Duck Duck Go: 49
Brave: 20
 

I honestly think Bing is broken.

Just as well no one I know uses it, but quite a number of people do opt for Duck Duck Go, because of the work it’s done in promoting privacy. I still admire them for this stance. But as many of you know, it sources its results from Bing, so if one is broken, both will be. And that’s a darned shame as I almost hit 12 years of having Duck Duck Go as my default (from August 2010 or thereabouts).

All the more reason to retain Mojeek as my default search engine.

Will I bother looking any more into Bing? Probably not, but how do I convince all those I recommended Duck Duck Go to to check out Mojeek?

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Posted in internet, marketing, publishing, technology, USA | 4 Comments »


Forget Duck Duck Go, Bing, and Google—I’m trying Mojeek

17.07.2022

It was disappointing to note that after switching to HTTPS, and signing on to Bing Webmaster Tools, the search engine results for those sites of ours that made the change are still severely compromised.

I’ve written about searches for my own name earlier, where my personal and company sites lost their first and second positions on all search engines that I knew of after we made the switch. Only Google has my personal site back up top, with the company site on the middle of the second page. Bing has my personal site at number two, and I’d love to tell you where the company site is, but their search engine results’ pages won’t let me advance beyond page 2 (clicking ‘next page’ lands you back on the same page; clicking ‘3’ and above still keeps you on p. 2). Duck Duck Go, which uses Bing results, has it well below that—I gave up looking. And this is after I signed up to Bing Webmaster Tools in the hope I could get the sites properly catalogued.

It’s a real shame because Duck Duck Go has been my default for 12 years this August.

However, it was the loss of search results for Lucire that really bothered me. Here’s a site that’s 25 years old, with plenty of inward links, and c. 5,000 pages. Before the switch to HTTPS, the popular search engines had thousands of pages from our site. These days, Bing and Duck Duck Go tell me they have dozens of pages from Lucire’s website. Again, only Google seems to have spidered everything.

When I check Bing Webmaster Tools, the spidering has been shockingly poor.

The received wisdom that you should have HTTPS instead of HTTP to do better in search engines is BS, and the belief that search engines will eventually catch up has also not been realized. We made the switch in March, and I’m to believe that Bing hasn’t completed the indexing of our sites.

Are they using the same computers New Zealand banks do? (Cheques used to clear overnight in the 1970s, and now banks tell us that even electronic payments can take days. When we last used cheques, they were telling us they would take five to seven days. Ergo, bank computers are slower today than in 1976.)

The real downer is that Lucire’s website search box is powered by Duck Duck Go, so our own site visitors can’t find the things they want to look for. If you believe some of the search engine marketing, over 40 per cent of site visitors use your search function.

What to do?

I began looking at having an internal search again. We used to have a WhatUSeek (later SiteLevel) internal site search, but that site’s search functions appear to be dead (the site is still live). A user on Mastodon recommended Sphinx Search, an open-source internal site search, but the instructions were too complex. I even saw real computer geeks having trouble. The only one that I could understand was called Sphider—I could follow the instructions and knew enough about PHP and MySql—but it was last updated many years ago, and successive projects also looked a bit complex.

A Google internal search was absolutely out of the question, as I have no desire to expose our readers to tracking—which is why so many other Big Tech gadgets have been removed from our site(s). Baidu and Yandex also have very limited indices for our sites.

I am very fortunate to have tried Mojeek again, a British search engine recommended to me by Matias on July 2. What I didn’t know then was Mojeek has its own spider and its own index, so it doesn’t have to license anything from Bing. And, happily, it claims to have 3,535 results from lucire.com, which might not be as good as Google’s 5,830, but it beats Bing’s 50 earlier today—in fact, at the time of writing, it showed a grand total of 10. That’s how bad it’s got. Duck Duck Go now has 48, also down from a few thousand before March.

Like Google, it seems to have coped with the switch to HTTPS without falling to pieces! And guess what? For a search of my own name, my personal site is number one, and our work site is number two. Presumably, Mojeek is the only search engine which coped and behaved exactly as the experts said!

You can imagine my next move. Mojeek has a site search, so now all Lucire searches are done through it. And readers can actually find stuff again instead of coming up nearly empty (or having very irrelevant results) as they have done for months.

Duck Duck Go’s lustre had been wearing off as there were recent allegations that its browser allowed Microsoft to track its users, something which Duck Duck Go boss Gabriel Weinberg personally denied on Reddit, saying that users were still anonymous when loading their search results.

I still have good memories of chatting to Gabriel in the early days and figuring out ways of spreading the word on Duck Duck Go. My contribution was going to hotels and changing the search defaults on business centre computers. Back then I had the impression Duck Duck Go did some of its own spidering, but these days, if Bing has a shitty index for your site, the Duck will follow suit. And with HTTPS not living up to its promise, that’s simply not good enough.

Tonight, Mojeek is very much the site of the day here, and I heartily recommend you try it out. I’ve switched the desktop to Mojeek as a default, and I’ll see how it all progresses. Right now I feel it deserves our support more than Duck Duck Go. Finally, we might truly have an alternative to Google, and it’s run from the UK’s greenest data centre. With our servers now being greener, too, running out of Finland, the technology is starting to match up to our beliefs.
 

Google, the biggest index of them all
 

Mojeek, a creditable second place
 

This is it on Bing: a 25-year-old history on the web, and it says it has 10 pages from lucire.com. Altavista, Excite and Hotbot had more in the 1990s
 

Duck Duck Go is slightly better, with 48 results—down from the thousands it once had
 
After switching to HTTPS
Number of results for lucire.com
Google: 5,830
Mojeek: 3,535 (containing the word Lucire, as term-less searches are not allowed)
Duck Duck Go: 48
Bing: 10
 
Number of results for jackyan.com
Google: 878
Mojeek: 437 (containing the term “Jack Yan”)
Duck Duck Go: 54
Bing: 24
 
Number of results for jyanet.com
Google: 635
Mojeek: 297 (containing the word jyanet)
Duck Duck Go: 46
Bing: 10
 

Presumably the only search engine that could handle a server going from HTTP to HTTPS and preserving the domains’ positions

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Posted in business, internet, publishing, technology, UK | 1 Comment »


Switch to HTTPS, lose your number one and two search-engine ranking

08.05.2022

One annoying thing about switching the majority of our sites to HTTPS is losing our positions in the search engines.

We were always told that HTTPS would lead to rises in search-engine ranking, and that being a mere HTTP would lead to Google downgrading you.

The reality, as I’ve witnessed since we completed our server migration, is the opposite.

Take a search for my name. Since the 1990s, Jack Yan & Associates will wind up being first or second, and when this website came online in the early 2000s, it tended to be first. Stands to reason: my name, followed by dot com, is most likely what a searcher is looking for. Both sites were regular HTTP.

We’ve lost first and second places. For my searches, Google puts this site at eighth, and Duck Duck Go doesn’t even have it in the top 10 (it’s 15th), info box aside. The company falls on the third page in Google and a shocking fifth in Duck Duck Go.

I was told that eventually the search engines will sort things out but it’s been two months, so you wonder just how slowly they act. If at all.

The business site has plenty of inbound links, and I imagine this site has a fair share.

I’ve fixed up some internal references to http:// after advice from some friends, but that hasn’t done the trick.

I find it pretty disheartening to find that, once again, in practice, the exact opposite to conventional wisdom happens. You would think this was a routine matter, and that search engines were programmed to accept such changes, understanding that, content-wise, the secure site is the same as the formerly insecure site. After decades of search engine development, it looks like, at least to this layman, that hasn’t happened. You have to start afresh even when you have the most relevant site to the search.

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Posted in business, internet, marketing, technology | 2 Comments »


Don’t put your events on just Facebook—they won’t be seen

31.12.2021

We’re probably far enough along from the event for people not to know which one I am referring to, as I’ve no wish to embarrass the organizers.
   Earlier in 2021, we saw a weekend event that would take place at the ‘Johnsonville Community Hub’. No address was given other than that. Both Duck Duck Go and Google seemed to think this meant Waitohi, the new library and swimming pool complex.
   We arrived there to find that no one knew of this event, but maybe we could try the community hall next door?
   No joy.
   There was the Collective Community Hub on Johnsonville Road but their website made it clear that it wasn’t open at the weekend.
   We hung round Johnsonville for a bit and decided we would check out the Collective place, just to see it up close.
   Sure enough, that’s where the event was—it was open at the weekend—and we got there after everyone had packed up.
   They were very apologetic and we told them the above. They had noted, however, that there had been more information on Facebook.
   To me, that’s a big mistake, because I don’t know what their Facebook page is, and even if I did, there was no guarantee I would see it for a variety of reasons. (Try loading any fan page on Facebook on mobile: the posts take unbearably long and few people would have the patience.) A search for the event on both Duck Duck Go and Google never showed a Facebook page, either.
   A similar event posted its cancellation on Facebook exclusively, something which we didn’t know till we got there, and after getting puzzled looks from the party that had booked the venue, I randomly found one organizer’s page and clicked on his Facebook link. Again, nothing about the event itself came up on Duck Duck Go or on Google.
   In the latter case, the organizer had the skills to make a web page, a normal one, so was it so hard to put the cancellation there?
   You just can’t find things on Facebook. They don’t appear to be indexed. And if they are, they’re probably so far down the results’ pages that they won’t be seen. If you’re organizing an event, by all means, post there to those who use Facebook keenly (a much smaller number than you think, with engagement decreasing year after year), but it is no substitute for getting it into properly indexed event calendars or on to the web, where regular people will put in search terms and look for it.
   Facebook is not the internet. Thank God.

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Posted in business, internet, marketing, New Zealand, Wellington | No Comments »


Nine years of promoting DuckDuckGo in Lucire

20.06.2021


Promoting DuckDuckGo: ‘Glancing back’ in Lucire KSA, June 2021.

For some time now, in every print issue of Lucire, and Lucire KSA, there is a mention of search engine DuckDuckGo. But I wasn’t sure how long we had been doing this, till I checked tonight. We started referencing DuckDuckGo in 2012, on our history page, where we look back at what we wrote 15, 10 and 5 years ago. What we do is feed in the year and Lucire, and let the search engine do the rest. It might not have Google’s might, but in my book it deserves considerably more loyalty, and all the help we can give.

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Like communist dictatorships, Google and Facebook threaten Australia

23.01.2021

You know the US tech giants have way too much power, unencumbered by their own government and their own country’s laws, when they think they can strong-arm another nation.
   From Reuter:

Alphabet Inc’s Google said on Friday it would block its search engine in Australia if the government proceeds with a new code that would force it and Facebook Inc to pay media companies for the right to use their content.

   Fine, then piss off. If Australia wants to enact laws that you can’t operate with, because you’re used to getting your own way and don’t like sharing the US$40,000 million you’ve made each year off the backs of others’ hard work, then just go. I’ve always said people would find alternatives to Google services in less than 24 hours, and while I appreciate its index is larger and it handles search terms well, the spying and the monopolistic tactics are not a worthwhile trade-off.
   I know Google supporters are saying that the Australian policy favours the Murdoch Press, and I agree that the bar that the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) has set for what qualifies as a media business (revenues of over A$150,000 per annum) is too high. So it isn’t perfect.
   The fact Google has made a deal in France suggests it is possible, when the giant doesn’t whine so damned much.
   Plus, Google and Facebook have been dangerous to democracy, and should have done more for years to address these issues. They’ve allowed a power imbalance for the sake of their own profits, so paying for news—effectively a licensing payment that the rest of us would have to fork out—at least puts a value on it, given how it benefits the two sites. No search? Fine, let’s have more ethical actors reap the rewards of fairer, “unbubbled” searches, because at least there would be a societal benefit from it, and since they aren’t cashing in on the media’s work, I’m happy for them to get a free licence to republish. Right now I don’t believe the likes of Duck Duck Go are dominant enough (far from it) to raise the attention of Australian regulators.
   Facebook’s reaction has been similar: they would block Australians from sharing links to news. Again, not a bad idea; maybe people will stop using a platform used to incite hate and violence to get their bubbled news items. Facebook, please go ahead and carry out your threat. If it cuts down on people using your site—or, indeed, returns them to using it for the original purpose most of us signed up for, which was to keep in touch with friends—then we all win. (Not that I’d be back for anything but the limited set of activities I do today. Zuck’s rich enough.)
   A statement provided to me and other members of the media from the Open Markets Institute’s executive director Barry Lynn reads:

Today Google and Facebook proved in dramatic fashion that they pose existential threats to the world’s democracies. The two corporations are exploiting their monopoly control over essential communications to extort, bully, and cow a free people. In doing so, Google and Facebook are acting similarly to China, which in recent months has used trade embargoes to punish Australians for standing up for democratic values and open fact-based debate. These autocratic actions show why Americans across the political spectrum must work together to break the power that Google, Facebook, and Amazon wield over our news and communications, and over our political debate. They show why citizens of all democracies must work together to build a communications infrastructure safe for all democracies in the 21st Century.

   Considering Google had worked on a search engine that would comply with Communist Chinese censorship, and Facebook has been a tool to incite genocide, then the comparison to a non-democratic country is valid.
   So, I say to these Big Tech players, pull out. This is the best tech “disruption” we can hope for. You’re both heading into irrelevance, and Australia has had the balls to do what your home country—from which you offshore a great deal of your money—cannot, for all the lobbyists you employ. You favour big firms over independents, and the once level playing field that existed on the internet has been worsened by you. The Silicon Valley spirit, of entrepreneurship, born of the counterculture, needs to return, and right now you’re both standing in the way: you are “the man”, suppressing entrepreneurial activity, reducing employment, and splitting people apart—just what dictatorial régimes do.
   As an aside, the EU is also cracking down on Big Tech as it invites the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet (Google’s parent company) to a February 1 hearing. They’ve bled people for long enough and it’s time for some pushback.

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Posted in business, China, culture, internet, media, politics, publishing, technology, USA | 1 Comment »


Even the web is forgetting our history

26.04.2020


Hernán Piñera/Creative Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

My friend Richard MacManus wrote a great blog post in February on the passing of Clive James, and made this poignant observation: ‘Because far from preserving our culture, the Web is at best forgetting it and at worst erasing it. As it turns out, a website is much more vulnerable than an Egyptian pyramid.’
   The problem: search engines are biased to show us the latest stuff, so older items are being forgotten.
   There are dead domains, of course—each time I pop by to our links’ pages, I find I’m deleting more than I’m adding. I mean, who maintains links’ pages these days, anyway? (Ours look mega-dated.) But the items we added in the 1990s and 2000s are vanishing and other than the Internet Archive, Richard notes its Wayback Machine is ‘increasingly the only method of accessing past websites that have otherwise disappeared into the ether. Many old websites are now either 404 errors, or the domains have been snapped up by spammers searching for Google juice.’
   His fear is that sites like Clive James’s will be forgotten rather than preserved, and he has a point. As a collective, humanity seems to desire novelty: the newest car, the newest cellphone, and the newest news. Searching for a topic tends to bring up the newest references, since the modern web operates on the basis that history is bunk.
   That’s a real shame as it means we don’t get to understand our history as well as we should. Take this pandemic, for instance: are there lessons we could learn from MERS and SARS, or even the Great Plague of London in the 1660s? But a search is more likely to reveal stuff we already know or have recently come across in the media, like a sort of comfort blanket to assure us of our smartness. It’s not just political views and personal biases that are getting bubbled, it seems human knowledge is, too.
   Even Duck Duck Go, my preferred search engine, can be guilty of this, though a search I just made of the word pandemic shows it is better in providing relevance over novelty.
   Showing results founded on their novelty actually makes the web less interesting because search engines fail to make it a place of discovery. If page after page reveals the latest, and the latest is often commodified news, then there is no point going to the second or third pages to find out more. Google takes great pride in detailing the date in the description, or ‘2 days ago’ or ‘1 day ago’. But if search engines remained focused on relevance, then we may stumble on something we didn’t know, and be better educated in the process.
   Therefore, it’s possibly another area that Big Tech is getting wrong: it’s not just endangering democracy, but human intelligence. The biases I accused Google News and Facebook of—viz. their preference for corporate media—build on the dumbing-down of the masses.
   I may well be wrong: maybe people don’t want to get smarter: Facebook tells us that folks just want a dopamine hit from approval, and maybe confirmation of our own limited knowledge gives us the same. ‘Look at how smart I am!’ Or how about this collection?
   Any expert will tell you that the best way to keep your traffic up is to generate more and more new content, and it’s easy to understand why: like a physical library, the old stuff is getting forgotten, buried, or even—if they can’t sell or give it away—pulped.
   Again, there’s a massive opportunity here. A hypothetical new news aggregator can outdo Google News by spidering and rewarding independent media that break news, by giving them the best placement—as Google News used to do. That encourages independent media to do their job and opens the public up to new voices and viewpoints. And now a hypothetical new search engine could outdo Google by providing relevance over novelty, or at least getting the balance of the two right.

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Posted in culture, interests, internet, media, New Zealand, publishing, technology, Wellington | 1 Comment »