The Zen of Search
the Image Freedom blog
The Zen of Search
the Image Freedom blog
The internet has changed. It doesn’t happen often – we like to think it does – but for the most part the internet is the same place it’s always been. How we connect with the internet has changed the most over the past decade with mobile phones and tablets giving us easier access to search engines and websites.
According to Nielson Ratings about 84% of television viewers say they use their mobile phone or their tablet as a second screen while watching TV, similarly about 61% of the web is experienced through a handheld device. That is a big change.
Responding to this Google is making one of the largest changes to their algorithm in history. I’m usually the first to calm fears of massive Google changes but this is one of those rare exceptions – and you could even argue this is the first change of it’s scale in the history of Google or search engines.
Starting April 21st Google is going to be giving priority to websites that are mobile friendly in mobile search results. This will not impact desktop search results (probably) but for the first time in history you will have a desktop ranking and a mobile ranking and they may not be the same, in fact they likely won’t be.
Late last night I was flipping through Facebook and I came across the below post from my friend, and author of several books including the incredible UnMarketing, Scott Stratten. Scott has his stuff swiped pretty frequently, but in this case he was not credited for the quote and the artist was planning to sell the artwork with his quote as a print.
Now quotes are a funny thing – Mary Engelbreit claimed that she searched on Google for the author of the quote and that it was attributed to many people.
When I Google “don’t try to win over the haters you are not the jackass whisperer” I see results attributed to Brené Brown or Scott Stratten. On closer inspection though Brené even attributes the quote to “her friend” Scott Stratten. So not a whole lot of ambiguity to the quote, and obviously not a whole lot of time spent researching.
As the evening went on the comments started to flood into Mary Engelbreit’s Facebook page asking that she attribute the quote to its proper owner (here’s a sample). It was fairly late here in Texas so I imagine Mary was not aware of the growing comment flood.
Hundreds of comments total, mine among them with the photo above, all asking why, when other works of Mary’s had given attribution for the quotes she uses when selling her artwork… why was Scott’s name left off?
Eventually it got later and we all went to sleep, assuming (correctly) that all of our comments would be deleted by morning. We were right.
The entire post with all of our comments was removed from Facebook and replaced with a new post giving credit to “Scott Straten” (which was later corrected after enough commentators gave her grief for not even bothering to spell “Scott Stratten” correctly.)
She is still using the image to promote her online store via Twitter.
Many of us were banned from Mary’s page (myself included) and if you look at her page you would think she was the victim of a smear campaign – her fans wondered who this Scott guy was and why he wasn’t happy “for the exposure”.
One of the UnMarketing fans found Mary’s copyright and trademark page and shared a screenshot in the discussion. It seems Mary takes trademark’s very seriously… when they’re hers.
In the end, there is only so much you can do to protect your copyrights, and in this case Scott leveraged a little social shaming to protect his, but we live in a time where companies will download videos from other websites, repost them without giving any credit, and leverage that content to build their brand.
Companies pay millions of dollars a year into Errors & Omissions insurance to protect themselves from lawsuits erupting in copyright violations and the use of trademarked content. It certainly happens.
The lesson here: Don’t just copy something off the internet to use as your own, especially commercially, and if you are going to “borrow” content from others it’s a good idea to make sure they don’t have a rabid fan base that will stand up for you in the face of intellectual “borrowing”.
Full disclosure – as seen above – I have had the “Jackass Whisperer” poster on my wall since August of 2012. Mary has taken responsibility for the borrowing of the quote without attribution, and I can imagine in the future she will be searching a bit deeper before placing a quote on her artwork to sell.
UPDATE – Due to being heckled Mary has removed her apology.
EDIT – This was too good not to attach to this post.
So close to Christmas and the end of 2014 many websites have been inviting us to contribute tidbits to articles about how SEO will change in 2015 and what businesses can do to be ready. These fluff posts are fun, and they’re always an easy way to earn a link for websites like ours, but we should also exercise some caution when reading these posts.
SEO hasn’t changed a ton in the five years that I’ve been running Image Freedom. There have been websites caught doing shady things, even SEOs blacklisted by Google for such tactics, but the very basic “SEO 101″ details very rarely change. Matt Cutts from Google would tell you that Google wants you to make the internet a better place, and that is certainly a very “Google PR” way of saying it but he’s not that far off.
This week a Google update to their Local Search Results has caused quite a flutter. The Google Pigeon update has had a very visible impact on local map rankings. Some businesses who weren’t provided with local results, such as ourselves in the SEO industry, suddenly have a “7 pack” of map results again, while industries like realtors find themselves with all of their local results completely removed from Google’s first page.
According to an article on Search Engine Land, Google has stated that they will not be making an announcement about this “Pigeon” update and that the name “Pigeon” was created because Google has not selected a name internally like they did in the past with Google Penguin or Panda. This may be because they wanted this to go under the radar, but I’m not sure how you can go under the radar when you’re impacting so many results.
I can’t bring myself to watch the VMAs (even though I would have loved to see Macklemore clean house with two awards) but it didn’t really matter did it? Suddenly more important than Batfleck, no one can hide from twenty year old Miley Cyrus doing things to a foam finger I don’t think you can even find on those dark parts of the internet we try not to talk about.
You’re going to laugh, but I couldn’t help but notice the parallels to SEO in Miley’s outrageous attempt at grabbing attention: she’s trying too hard, and people can tell. I get phone calls from companies that want to “partner” with us with their new startup product, or they want us to blog about them, or they want us to outsource our work to them, but in all of these outreach attempts they’re clearly ‘twerkin too hard, and it shows.