Ahh there you are dear GD'ers. Glancing around our warm, fire lit hall here at GD Towers I can see some familiar friendly faces amongst you. It warms my heart to say Happy Holidays to those of us enjoying that today. Oh and I can even see some of you from long past, popping back to say hello again on this special day. Thank you for coming dear friends and for always helping keep our community vibrant and welcoming despite the darkness that can sometimes be found in other internet lands.
Hey I can even see some movement at the back there. Scattered amongst you at the far extremities of our palace hall there are some new faces. Come forward, come forward, dont be shy. Login and make yourself right at home. We are all geeks, nerds, techies and gamers in one fashion or another here so you will always find a kind word and a shared thought on our favourite subjects in these halls.
I do so love this day, where we get to spend it with family and friends. Well it also signifies we are reaching towards the end of another fine year of hardware and gaming. Our Global Game Awards 2018 were a wonderful success once again and helps showcase just what a year we have all had.
Now that I have you here I am going to take this opportunity to offer up some insights from my ten years of carefully managing site content, and basically what it’s like to host a website like Game-Debate and in particular, what its like to manage and drive forward a community focused tech site. If this is something you have no interest in then jump down the page to the awesome competition.
To find our Game Debate $300 Steam Cash Giveaway Competition drop down to the next -------- in the page and get involved for a chance to have an even greater gaming 2019, where the winner will get a bunch of Steam cash to spend on games.
If you enjoy this sort of stuff then let me know and I will see if I can cover more of it going forward, as today I am only going to touch upon the surface of what I know about website hosting.
Otherwise lets dive in and take a look at...
Whats involved in managing and hosting a gaming-tech website.
Rule number one will seem obvious but it’s actually very easy to stray from. When building new features or adding any content to your website, keep a very tight focus on what you are offering to your visitors and why you are better than everyone else.
Lets take this very article as an example. Writing this piece about a “Queens Speech” gains GD very little in terms of web presence, as its not directly gaming or tech related. It confuses Google. Or more to the point, makes Google think we dont know what we are about.
And so for writing this article Google actually penalises Game-Debate, very very slightly, for all of our search term placements across all pages. Because in this article I am not sticking to any topic we are normally regarded for.
But every now and then we all have to do something for ourselves, otherwise what’s the point in living, right? However, I can find some kickback for GD from writing this article. Lets move beyond what Google can directly measure. Google doesn’t have a clear way of understanding my relationship with you, the GD community.
So let’s look at that a little - I personally enjoy seeing how awesome the GD community can be with one another when given a sense of collectiveness. And I, or we, achieve some of that sense of collectiveness through feedback derived from articles like this. From these types of articles you get to see the impact you have on one another and therefore to the site.
That, in a nutshell, is the GD website ecosystem, with you the visitor. We do a small thing and realise it really does make a difference. Because from hundreds of little good things comes a huge thing, like the GD community.
Without our GD community helping each other tackle tech issues and bonding over gaming experiences and other things you enjoy, we are basically just another two dimensional web platform. We have all seen them. But on GD its an upward spiral, as you guys support each other by chatting and getting involved with GD you strengthen the existence for all of us and it encourages others to come and join in and do the same. Especially if you share content around the internet. This is added value and a good reason for me to write articles like this. I will go further into the depths of that topic another time as it gets pretty murky in and of itself.
Now onto Google. Again I am going to keep this as brief as I can, because this is not the day or place for such in depth studies into the dark art of Google. But if people enjoy what I write then I will certainly take the time in the future to go over lots more of these things. And rest assured I have experiences of how Google operates and treats websites like GD, that will raise your eyebrows. Strangely no one seems to be talking about this stuff in any detail. Perhaps for fear of upsetting our internet overlord or perhaps just because people are involved in staying focused on their own content, trying to keep it relevant and not straying from their content speciality, as Google demands from us, if we want to keep getting the traffic we need to survive. I am sure you are seeing the pattern here. They divide and conquer. Website publishers dont talk about what is being done to them, as that is not relevant to the content they are being judged on. They just have to stick to their topical content and so no one realises how the internet really works.
Google is a business. It is not bound by morals. As a huge business, one that dominates and controls the flow of internet users, throttles amounts of website traffic, they are controlling the flow of money across the internet. But it must constantly do what all businesses have to do. Grow. If a business stops trying to grow then it begins to lose its market share to competition, it then shrinks and fails. So by their nature Google have to push forward. Perhaps Google started with search terms, earning money on adverts across search result pages, but today it is so much more. Operating systems, services delivered to third world countries, cell phones, Youtube and so on.
Looking at Google’s primary revenue stream, which is also its original source of financial success, sees it placing and selling ads around the net. About 5 years ago Google realised that its ads were being layered in publishing websites all over the place. Websites were putting the ads everywhere they could think of. They were creating web pages for the sake of webpages simply to house the ads. It was an internet land grab. The more content pages you had the more potential money you could make, albeit tiny amounts of money at a time, as Google indexed your site for these new pages. Obviously this is a simplified view and I could chat at length about SEO (search Engine Optimisation), and probably will do one day. But in short, web publishers created more web pages quickly got more ads and therefore had more chance at earning a bit of ad money.
With this mentality spreading across the whole internet the value of Google ads became very diluted, lowering click through rates, giving rise to the horrible ad placements and then the horror of ad blockers. Websites had to try and create even more webpages and content to try and keep getting money to tackle this advertising reliant mess. I could see this coming and therefore turned to the community, to let you know that websites like GD would die over the coming years due to this torrid advertising situation. The ad model as it stands sucks, and it shouldnt be about that. If a site has value to its readership then it should be able to make money right? But Google determines who gets traffic and how much money you make. So you find out what Google wants you to do and then you do that, because otherwise you will never be seen by anyone because Google doesnt rate you.
I am going to side step just a little bit, but it's relevant to paint the picture, and I will tie it back in again very shortly. So bear with me.
Meanwhile Google is being hit by ad blockers. Google makes its money from ads, right? So if ads are getting stripped from websites by adblockers then Google doesnt make its money. And if website content is getting worse as website publishers splurge content out to try and get any ad placement to try and make some money, then again Google ads devalue and Google makes less money again. All bad for a company that has to grow. But they control the flow of traffic for the moment so they must leverage their position to get a hold on this.
So what does Google need to do to sort this mess out and make sure they keep making money and also make more money, because they have to grow? And let me tell you, this is where it starts to get very clever and again, no one is properly talking about this...until now.
Google lowers traffic to all websites.
What? Wait, that seems counter intuitive, surely? If they were making their money from the ads displayed on those websites then they want more traffic to go to them, not to lower the traffic.
Do a Google search for something right now. Anything. Chances are the first placement will be something called a “snippet”. This is a paragraph “stolen” directly from a website and printed on Google's own pages. This technically becomes the top ranking result. As a user you do a search on google and instead of them sending you to the content publishers page, where that website then gets paid by displaying ads to you, you get your answer on Google’s result page. Or should I say, from Google.
I will explain why they do this in a moment.
Ok after that, in the search results, you will see things like, Google news, and Youtube results and google map results and down the right hand side of the results page you might also see content blocks, that also provide more details stolen from websites. You have probably seen this for example, when you search for something from IMDB. A panel on the right hand side of the Google results is displayed telling you all about a film or the actors you were looking up. All of that content is ripped from someone else’s website, who is now missing out on the traffic ever visiting them.
Why would Google do these things then, because it still doesnt make sense? Something doesnt add up. They do it because when they make money from ads on publisher sites like GD, they have to cut GD in on the revenue of those ads. And as I was saying sites were getting saturated with crap quality, low paying ads due to their need to make more traffic. So they are sharing those ad earnings with the website publisher. However, if Google gets the websites, who are losing users and traffic and their revenue, to pay to get to the top of Google above all the roadblocks like the Snippets and Youtube results then Google earn the full amount for the ad. Plus, Google are getting more traffic on their own results pages by stimulating their displayed content with information stolen from other websites.
Meanwhile, with less traffic on the regular publisher sites, like Game-Debate, it drives up the cost per ad, because the advertisers are bidding against each other for less places to put their ads.
See, its a huge win win for Google. Its fricking genius and consequently publishers dont properly realise its happening to them and the average user will never stop to think about it, because why should we. We just visit Google, ask our question and then get an answer either directly from Google or from a website they suggest.
I could go on and perhaps if you guys want me to, I will at some point, but for now I will leave it here.
The message I would love you to take away from this is, if you value sites like Game-Debate and want them to survive what is happening and what is coming then try to do one or all of the following actions -
- subscribe to the websites paid membership models, like our premium model on GD. We add value all around the site with clever exclusive tools and turn off all ads
- turn off ad blockers if you feel a website offers some value to you
- tell your friends about the sites you consume content on, ideally by sharing links to their content around the internet
- on sites like GD help each other and be friendly to one another
Because a time of transition is coming. Unsupported sites will vanish as they cant afford to produce content and new indie sites dont appear on your radar anymore because Google wont let them appear unless they pay Google for the privilege. Google seems to be acting like they reckon we have enough websites now.
Oh and on a side note and to let you know how dark things are, a year or two back Google got in touch with me, as a successful indie website, to see if I would support a user paywall infrastructure, managed by Google. It would remove ads for every visitor but charge all users to move through all websites for a monthly fee. They would then pay a token of the revenue to websites who signed up for it and cut out websites who didnt.
Google appears to me as an insidious behemoth. They make the internet rules. They dont publish the rules. They allow websites a small amount of insight into those rules through ambiguous reports, which is just enough to keep website publishers divided in their knowledge about what they need to do. Furthermore Google are a company that stretches across all countries. This makes it very difficult to regulate them. Each country tries to manage them based on their own interests. Again this keeps the world divided in dealing with Google and enables them the run of the world, as we are nearly powerless to intervene. When regulatory bodies do try and enforce the likes of Google, they are so poorly educated about this stuff that they are left looking foolish. This is divide and conquer perfected at all levels.
Let me know if you want to hear more about this sort of thing. And please do consider GD Premium and help me remove ads, while I can still pay for adding site content like this, managing our servers, paying the hosting costs, keeping the site safe and being able to add fun features and tools that help us grow. I have a tonne of cool things I still want to add and all the money goes directly back into keeping this place alive.
When I get a bit more time I will add some images to help illustrate the above.
Right, its competition time. Get involved with the following to try and take home the $300 Steam cash game vouchers.
Winner Announcement - Piotr K. From Poland, for writing a comment in the section below. Congratulations buddy!! i will run another giveaway in a handful of weeks. Until then, have fun gaming everyone.
Ok then, big love to you my fellow GD’ers and thank you all for coming by on this family day. To me it means you think of me and all of us on GD as your family and by that very thought it makes us a GD family. And if we join together we will ride through these changing times and hopefully come out stronger.
But I can see it is going to be a tough ride.
Happy Holidays everyone and best of luck with everything you want to happen in the New Year.
Your dear friend,