Normally I delete stuff like this, or dismiss it haughtily in a snarky post. But for some reason, this attempt to get my attention was unusally egregious, so I'm giving it a relatively mild dose of Fiskery. Before we begin, you should know my official position on this particular issue: "'Search engine optimization' is the 21st-century version of phrenology. Everybody and his brother-in-law has some scheme to game the system; every other month or so, Google, which owns half the search market, duly upsets the system and thus all the games. Blather, rinse, repeat. Were I more desperate for traffic, and had I money to lavish on this site, I would be better served by simply hiring a practitioner of vodou; at worst, I'd only have to clean the chicken blood out of the database once in a while."

And now, someone's brother-in-law. Maybe.

Good Afternoon,

My name is [redacted], I was just browsing the Internet and came across your website, which I really liked.

I have to wonder how much of this stuff he actually read before deciding that he "really liked" it. It can't be any significant proportion of the offerings here, which now number well over twenty thousand pages. And for that matter, how, by "just browsing," does one stumble upon any of those twenty thousand pages in the midst of at least a trillion? Already I'm being bullshot.

I saw a small flaw with your website which if corrected, should help you get more traffic from Google and all of the major search engines online. We all know how important that is today with Google coming in like the IRS and cleaning people out! (Inside joke for those who seem to get audited every year.)

Google, for all their flirtation with Evil, costs me little more than irritation and involuntary marketing attempts. The IRS represents a much greater expense. Also, the IRS sends me no traffic; meanwhile, I get several hundred visits from Googlers and other "major search engines" each and every week. Were it not so, I wouldn't be able to pop up a fresh set of strange search-engine queries each and every Monday morning. (Come to think of it, who else has a "major search engine"? Bing? Anyone? Bueller?)

You have what's called a Canonical URL issue in your website, which means that Google's bot will see two versions of your homepage. What does that mean to you? This means that Google is dividing the authority amongst the two pages, which are actually a single page. Look, I live in Los Angeles so you know I'm not a scammer, well at least my wife doesn't think so, but that's another story.

Anyone who's ever used Google's suite of Webmaster Tools knows the following: (1) it's possible to call up any page in Google's index using Googlebot's parameters, and (2) Google is not at all shy about complaining to webmasters if they don't like what they see. Two years ago, they complained to me rather loudly, and I had to rework several things and call in a white-hat security team to get rid of some concealed malware before I could get back into their good graces. And who knew that Los Angeles, population 3.8 million, was totally scammer-free?

I find this guy's off-the-cuff assessment particularly galling in view of the fact that I switched the blog stuff to WordPress in September of 2008, which required me to import four thousand posts two years' worth from an old Movable Type database, and then delete the MT static pages to avoid, um, duplicate content. (The only remaining URLs from that period have been left in place to collect random trackback hits; they actually redirect to the current page. About every two months, I find another one.)

Back to the topic at hand! So in effect, the power of your homepage is being reduced by half its authority instead of the full amount! I don't expect you to believe me, however, I would LOVE the chance to sit down and discuss it. Just to note, YES I do speak English and I'm on United States soil! (Another inside joke for business owners who get lots of telemarketing calls.)

You can learn more about this issue here :

Your web developer can easily correct this issue by making a 301 redirect, however with all due respect to them, if they were that good they would have caught this simple error a long time ago.

Yeah, last I looked Los Angeles was still US territory, despite the best, or worst, efforts by individuals still riddled with butthurt, 165 years after the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. And yeah, WordPress allows for both pretty and unpretty permalinks: and refer to the same page. WordPress runs about a fifth of the entire Web, so you have to figure that Google is aware of this sort of thing.

And yeah, I'm that good. (Actually, I'm not that good, but I know enough to keep things humming around here most of the time, and Google isn't even complaining about the load time, which is their current Cardinal Sin.)

Another thing I noticed is some on-page issues on your website which if corrected, should help you rank better for "Money Making" keyword search terms.

"Money Making"? Now I know he didn't read much of anything here.

Let me know if you need our help to solve the canonical URL issue, and I would really like to discuss it with you on the phone.

Thanks and make sure to watch out for "Flying Ninjas"! My son told me that this morning after watching Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon last night.

Me, answer the phone? What color is the sky in Los Angeles?

The Vent

  9 November 2013

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 Copyright © 2013 by Charles G. Hill