This is a guest post written by John Colascione, author of the recently published book, Mastering Your Website: Insider’s Guide To Fully Understanding Your Website, Search Engine Optimization and Building Your Brand, now available on Amazon. I asked John to write a guest post to discuss his background and the book. Feel free to ask any question in the comment section.
Hello, My name is John Colascione and since you’re reading this blog I think it’s pretty safe to assume that you’re a bit into domaining like myself. Thanks to Elliot, I’ve been given the pleasure as well as the honor of posting here on ElliotsBlog.com to both announce the recent release of my book “Mastering Your Website” as well as share some of my thoughts about “Search” in general and a little about me.
First of all, I’d like to mention that I have always found great fulfillment helping people learn and understand the Internet. What really works, what worked for me, and what (in my opinion) not to waste time on. I believe a significant part of this comes from the fact that everything I have ever learned came from others who were willing to spend their time in forums sharing case studies and experiences of what worked for them. Eventually I began exploring and trying new ideas of my own and vice versa. These days teaching what I know and what I’ve learned is, in a way, a chance to give back for everything I have picked up through the years. It is kind of funny, one of my partners actually didn’t want me to release this book thinking that I’m “giving away all of our secrets”, but I don’t agree. It’s not a secret in itself, but a way of thinking.
About twelve years ago when I first started with the Internet, I didn’t know much at all about having a web site let alone making or marketing one. I was a regular AOL user and I dabbled a little here and there to look things up and check email. I don’t even think many people really knew what Google was back then and search engines were far from a common tool or thought for the average person.
I wound up taking a class for computers at Hendricks Institute of Technology in Lindenhurst, New York. There I broke the ice using the computer taking a course to become a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE). Troubleshooting operating systems wasn’t really for me and I left the training before taking the test, but my dabbling with computers and the Internet was far from over.
I continued with what I already knew about the net (which wasn’t much). I started using EBay to buy hard to find collectibles only to resell them on that same venue for 2 to 3 times what I paid for them. I really liked this Internet stuff and the freedom that was involved in it and I built my first web site using a site builder program I found from Godaddy.com. Although the program was great, I reverse engineered it through a significant desire to understand how it worked so that I didn’t need it anymore; I wanted to do it on my own steam. After I built some test sites for friends and family I built my first real project in notepad, and then I started to build more.
Eventually I found myself with hundreds of niche domain names all related to my main site and I was throwing everything but the kitchen sink at my site because I wanted to win and I wanted to win big. A while later as things grew I moved on to buying some of my competitors web sites. I wanted to have the greatest site on the planet! No, I really did. Well, obviously that didn’t happen because I do not own Facebook, Google, or Twitter. No, my brand was much smaller, but I sure didn’t treat it much differently. I remember once that someone had said about the site, that they weren’t sure what the heck it was. That it looked sort of like a directory, but probably the best one they had ever seen. Here is a verbal audio description of the site, as well a funny and similar comment from Gawker which was easy to find.
Anyway, long story short (the rest is in the book – I don’t want to spoil it.) I wound up with a pretty large portfolio of sites all which supported what I called the “mother ship”. When I think about what I was trying to do, it was really the process of building a brand. To utilize domains and search engines to make my site popular with users and effectively brand the name (something which turned out to be immensely important today as you’ll notice search engines lean towards brands quite significantly – the writing has been on the wall for some time). I really wanted that brand name site – all the way back then, and to have a great site that Long Islanders could call home. It turned into a business through traffic and the determination and passion I had for the project. If you listen to Google engineers they’re always talking about how you should make your site for users and not search engines and that couldn’t be any more accurate, especially from what we’re seeing today. Now search engine optimization is turning into a target – not a benefit.
So why this book, why now, why ever?
I’ve written a good amount of material through the years, but I must admit, as my time has run thinner and thinner, so has my place as an author for the web or forum participation, but I have been wanting to write a book for a good while, about five years in fact – but it has taken me this long. Many people have asked why I have not yet written a book, or just an e-book but the answer is that I really didn’t get around to it, but now, because of what I’ll detail below, I’ve made time.
Recently there have been some very interesting as well as unsettling updates from Google which have certainly shook the ground that not just domineers walk on, but developers too. I use the word unsettling because most domainers and developers are highly engaged in their sites and I imagine a great majority of them focus on search optimization as a key ingredient in maintaining a healthy amount of natural traffic. This usually means marketing the sites in ways you believe, at the time, will benefit the site in search – but developers can’t forget about users in the process.
It’s definitely not like the old days when webmasters would pounce on top of PageRank and data center checkers to see what the “Google Dance” was doing that quarter and whether or not pages would gain or lose visibility, especially knowing that things would pretty much stay that way until a future dance which was likely months away. Remember those days? Well they are definitely long gone and likely to be a distant memory only for veterans to reminisce on.
Last Tuesday Google released its official list of 50 changes, the second round of significant and very public updates Google has made. Google’s blog Inside Search stated: “We’re starting to get into a groove with these posts, so we’re getting more and more comprehensive as the months go by.” The prior month were 40 changes, and the month before, just 17. I mean geez, if this keeps up where are we going to be in May, June, or July?
My guess is that it will actually level off some as far as the quantity of changes, but the frequency should persist, at least, according to what they are telling us. Either way, what I am seeing now is unlike anything I have ever seen before, but I truly knew it was coming. It’s almost a reversal of what makes sense. Google calls this “leveling the playing field” where sites with little or no optimization do well. I’ve seen some pretty spammy stuff popping up too, but for the most part, I think this will improve the index. They are also not necessarily done either as it seems Google likes to receive some blowback sometimes and use feedback to measure whether or not their updates have gone too far, and then pull back a little if need be.
Overall, some of the things happening right now I talked about as early as 2005, but many didn’t believe me. Some seemed a little farfetched back then. Low and behold here they are all being discussed, it’s all there.
It’s not like Google wants to have to clean up the entire Internet, but unfortunately, their just got stuck with project. I mean, people have come to expect them to be so good at what they do, how are they supposed to deal with these people that just “litter” their Internet with junk. I think in a way, the spam team at Google must feel like someone has come over their house at night and just dumped their garbage pails on the front lawn and ran away, Google is going to hide on the side of the house at night and come out and ‘stick em’ so they do not come back anymore.
So Now What? What’s to come down the road?
Google places will compete for all Yellow Pages style businesses worldwide and listings will be verifiable. Google+ will begin to compete and possibly surpass leading social sites like Facebook and Twitter due to the power of the intermingling services. Google Analytics, a neat tool which seemed like a free perk from the ole GOOG, will be installed across every site that exists because eventually sites will do better when Google knows more. And now watch how quick people jump on bandwagon when they notice the effect authorship has on their posts (it’s going to be big). Google will eventually tie every single site back to a unique individual via a Google+ Profile. And all of this will be used to rank the results, and for your own good of course. I mean, in order to make search better for you, they need to know you better.
Also, don’t forget, the more complicated and unpredictable the results, the more business owners will resort to PPC. If I had to take a guess, I’d say Google’s second quarter revenues this year will see a spike beginning now in a positive direction, another win for the ole GOOG. You’ve really got to hand it to them, they know what they’re doing over there. If you get the book, see my chapter on “Google Is King”.
Google is clearly winning the war, at least in my opinion, not just in search, but in life itself. Google knows you (your searches), your friends (your connections), your likes (Google+), their likes (Search Plus Your World), what entertains you (YouTube) or what makes you laugh, where you are in the world at any given time (Gmail/Android) or where you’ve been – and I bet with a relatively low amount of computing power – Google even knows where you’re going before you get there. Maybe Google will predict your next action, your next thought based on a collaboration of thoughts past?
So what is the reason for the book you might ask? I wrote this book, because out of everything I’ve seen to date, Google is changing faster and more significantly than ever before. I have always wanted to write and publish a physical book and likely will not have the time to share this in its current form sometime in the distant future as that future is happening now, but I will save the rest for my book. The book is unique, up to date and understandable. It was great fun writing the book and I will very likely write another one sometime soon. Thanks for reading and let’s see what the coming months bring.