How is a Google Account different from a Google Apps account?

Why normal people hate dealing with web technology – part IVXICIII 

I am making some changes to this website, which means that I have to finally come to grips with Google Apps, something I have been putting off  for quite a while. The reason I’ve been postponing the day of reckoning is mainly because I hate dealing with tech people’s impossible-to-understand definitions, like the following:

How is a Google Account different from a Google Apps account?

Although Google Apps and Google Accounts allow you to access several of the same Google products, they’re different types of accounts. A Google Account is a unified sign-in system that provides access to a variety of free Google consumer products — such as Gmail, Google Groups, Google Shopping List, Picasa, Web History, iGoogle, and Google Checkout — administered by Google. Google Apps provides access to products powered (ed: italics by Google) by Google but administered by a (sic) your organization.

At first glance, this seems to make sense, but when you break it down a bit, it actually doesn’t make any sense at all. The idea that Google Apps products are “powered” by Google and that Google Accounts products aren’t is just silly. And what the hell’s the difference between what I do to my supposedly Google-administered gmail and a self-administered Google document.

Someone’s just strung together a bunch of words in a failed attempt to come up with a meaningful definition.

Ongoing search issues at my Scottish Terrier site

Ever since I migrated the Scottish Terrier and Dog News from blogger to WordPress at the end of the summer, my organic Google search traffic has plummeted.

When I noted the original drop-off, I immediately contacted the firm that had done the migration to let them know something had gone wrong, namely the something I had done everything in my power to avoid going wrong. They replied:

Firstly, I must say there is nothing to worry about. Its a normal Google process that happens after migration.

We followed every single step recommended by Google while migrating a site here: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=83106

Please find this statement in this document: “Make sure that your new site is not a subdomain. For example, you can use www.example.com, but not www.example.com/newsite or http://newsite.example.com.”

But we migrated to sub domains, and also considering the huge size (links) of these blogs, Google will take some time (approx 10-14 weeks) to re-index the old blogs links to the new one.
You can see all your links that are under the process of re-indexing here: http://www.google.com/search?q=site:http://www.scottishterrieranddognews.com/

Also please see this: http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Webmasters/thread?tid=71b918f844bed94b&hl;=en

All I suggest you is to keep patience and wait for Google’s indexing to be completed. Rest assured that you will retrieve all your traffic once indexing gets done.

Because I was not completely convinced and the Scottie News is precious to me, I opted to get a second and third opinion from:

  1. The DIY forums for the Thesis theme that I use for my site (password protected so no no link possible)
  2. Google’s Webmaster Central board for crawling, indexing and ranking.

At DIY, I wrote:

I migrated from Blogger to Thesis a month ago and since then I have lost all my Google keyword traffic despite having followed all the rules.

I used to rank in the top five for most Scottish Terrier keywords and now I don’t even show up.

I am still getting lots of Images Search results.

Can anyone suggest why this would have happened and how to fix it in plain English as I am not an SEO person…

…Re keywords, I ranked in the top five for just about every combination including the words Scottish Terrier. I was on and off the front page for “Scottish Terrier.” A few consistent drivers of traffic were Scottish Terrier grooming, Scottish Terrier names, Scottish Terrier Canada. (I can dig up more in Google Analytics if that would help.)

While I got some helpful suggestions, nothing addressed my immediate problem. On Google, the only guy who responded to my query, either hadn’t read or didn’t understand my question and responded with an irrelevant answer about robots.txt, something about which I deduced from his other forum answers he had a bee in his bonnet.

I decided to wait it out and see if my organic search traffic would climb back up and when it didn’t, I contacted my migration company in November. They replied:

I just received inputs from the SEO team and the results does not suggest good news.

The ranking after migrating to a sub-domain is dipping and it is not showing any signs of upgrade since past 3 days. My team contacted Google and have not received any satisfactory answers yet.

We would suggest is to re-migrate the blogs (ed’s note: I migrated the Daily Dachshund as well as the Scottie News) to the old domains. This would bring back the SEO rankings that has been lost all this while.

Please let me know your thoughts on this.

I deeply apologize for the inconvenience & disappointment caused.

Yikes.

Following this, the migration company did some further rather cursory research which led them to this Digital Inspiration post and to file a reconsideration request with Google. Here is an excerpt from our chat:

I had little faith in the proposed reconsideration request as Google can take weeks to even reply so I asked the company to put the Daily Dachshund back on its old Blogger custom domain, www.dailydachshundanddognews.com, as it is less precious to me than the Scottie News. Essentially, I was using the Daily Doxie as a test subject.

A few days later, the following incomprehensible answer arrived from Google. It was of no help whatsoever:

In the mean time, there was some somewhat positive Google Analytics Data coming in from the remigrated Daily Dachshund and Dog News, where Google organic search visits seemed to pick up. It then dipped again, however, which could be due to a lack of new posts or the fact that traffic tends to dip at this time of year or the possibility that the mid-December spike was just ab aberration. As of now, the data’s still inconclusive and the jury’s still out:

As for the Scottie News, in my Boxing Day efforts to find a solution to this problem, I turned up this, which seems like it may be relevant. It’s not clear to me why there would be all this traffic redirecting from scottishterrierdogs.blogspot.com, which was the site’s original address before I switched to a the custom domain www.scottishterrieranddognews.com in 2009.

So there you have it. I’m offering dinner for two at a decent restaurant to anyone who can tell me how to fix this problem.

Thinking about online ‘newspaper’ design

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the best design for delivering news online. In a nutshell, I’d say there are three rules that must be followed:

  1. Make it crystal clear what your site is about — NO confusion!!!
  2. Make it white.
  3. Make it minimalist.

It’s pretty obvious that following these three rules has helped make Google the success it is today, so why do so many others continue to ignore them?

For example, I have yet to figure out what Daylife‘s about, Yahoo’s new Shine portal completely overloads me, and the Toronto Star‘s new health site not only has way too much going on on the page, but it’s also not clear whether the banner on top of the site is a logo or an ad. I had to click to find out it was the logo.

Funnily enough, what Google does on its main page is basically what broadsheet newspapers have done for decades.

They take the main event — in Google’s case, the search function — and give it by far the most prominent play meaning biggest font and often an accompanying picture.

Newspapers tell you about their other more specialized sections or, in Google’s case, their specialized search functions for news, maps, images, blogs, etc. Google also has no ads on the front page as many newspapers did for years. It is reserved for the most important stuff, which sometimes also includes quirky, as in the special illustrations. The ads and less important content goes elsewhere.

So online newspapers, how about it? Stop the crazy overload. Make the front page for the day’s top stories and give clear links to the more specialized content. After all, the classic front page was such a good idea that Google took it!