What’s up, everyone? Today, TNAStars.com is announcing that it needs your help to “Strive for Five.” What does it mean to “Strive for Five?” That’s a good question and below is your answer as well as some idea as to why we’re initiating this program right now.
When we say that we want to “Strive for Five” what we’re saying is that we’re striving to get more than 500 followers on Twitter. Yeah, it might seem a little stupid or corny, but let me explain where this program is coming from and why we’re asking you to follow us on Twitter now…
Last summer, our excellent reporter William B. West suggested that we try to get listed on Google News. After some back and forth with the people (and bots… so many bots) at Google News and a lot of changes and edits behind the scenes, TNAStars.com was proud to be one of the wrestling sites that helped feed the headlines at Google News. And, as you might imagine, when you’re listed on Google News you get a ton of traffic from those headlines. After only being on the internet for a little over a year, our various relationships and reputation for strong, quality, unbiased news combined with headlines listed on Google News had us at an average of 2,000 visitors per day. In fact, we were closing in on potentially exceeding 3,000 visitors per day on average until just a few months ago.
Well, a few months ago one of the robots at Google News ran some script on the headlines posted on TNAStars.com and decided that most of our articles were “disproportionately short.” Now look – just like any other internet geek, I understand the power and necessity of using spiders, bots, and scripts to manage certain systems like Google News as well as the processes behind those systems like culling out certain websites from the bunch. I totally get it. However, this is a situation where the automated process utterly and miserably failed and halted our momentum in its tracks. Here’s what happened…
About a month and a half ago, some 99% of the stories posted at TNAStars.com were no longer posted to Google News because they were deemed “disproportionately short.” As for beginning to eclipse the 3,000 hit per day average? Well, we’ve since fallen to about half of that number of visitors on a good day. What Google News has done to this website’s momentum in building traffic and new readers is pathetic – absolutely pathetic. And all because of a bogus categorization made by a stupid, not-even-human bot at Google News.
Anyway, like any good webmaster I tried to my damnedest to fix the problem with Google News. The only problem is that there aren’t that many real people at Google News and certainly no phone numbers to call when these mistakes happen so I was stuck reading through pages and pages of “fixes” (none of which addressed how to fix a problem on Google News’ end) as well as sending message after message and getting no response. I sent tweets to Google employees, e-mails to any e-mail addresses I could find, and help requests via official online forms over and over again. Finally, after posting a complaint about this obvious mistake on Google News’ part in their support forums, I was told by a Google employee that some changes were made to TNAStars.com in their system and that more of the stories posted to this website might be indexed on Google News in the next few weeks.
Admittedly, I was shocked at how noncommittal a response I received. Any businessman (or college student taking Business 101) knows that getting a conditional solution to the problem (the articles “might” be posted?) and a weak timeline (in the “next few weeks?”) just isn’t good enough. You can’t make plans off of changes that might occur at some point in the near future. While I was (and am) grateful to have received that response from a Google News employee, I actually received the response about two weeks ago. And, of the hundred or so updates that have been posted to TNAStars.com since then, exactly one has made it on Google News.
That’s just not good enough.
Now, I should note that both Jarrett Cox’s iMPACT Wrestling reports and Mark Ashworth’s Xplosion reports are, thankfully, being indexed on Google News just fine. However, many of the great stories that the writers on this website posted ver the last two months are just not out there for the masses to read and that’s extremely upsetting. I’m also pretty upset at the fact that this blunder on Google News’ part (and the impotent response that they gave on their forum) essentially stalled some much bigger plans that I’ve been working on for the entire summer. In fact, here’s a preview of the direction that I was heading in until Google News masterfully drew our momentum to a screeching halt.
As most of you know, I own a small group of professional wrestling websites including TNAStars.com, TBLWrestling.com, and XHeadlines.com (as well as the content from the former WOWRevolution.com). I also own a variety of wrestling-related domain names that are too numerous to list here. Well, I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to condense all of my online professional wrestling properties under one umbrella (using the most successful of these websites – TNAStars.com – as a base). And when I finally thought that I had a solid path to move forward and create what would essentially be a wrestling fan super site, all it took was a silly, stupid robot-fueled mistake at Google News to ruin the reader momentum that we’ve been building for the last year.
Since it seems like we’re not going to get much out of the humans at Google News (or at least we’re not going to get much quickly out of them), I’ve been considering what a good contingency plan might be for driving new eyes to this website as well as the eventual wrestling fan super site that could grow out of TNAStars.com. The question is: how do you draw in new readers to great, fact-based content when the largest news provider in the world is allowing a stupid computer program to prevent nearly all of your articles from being posted to their headlines listing? Well, I’ve thought about that question since this mess began and I think the answer is…
You utilize social media.
With social media, we can effectively bypass the distribution channel (Google News) and go directly to the readers. I’ve been a slow adopter for certain social media outlets (like Twitter), but I now understand the power that these outlets can wield for a website that is unjustly wronged or incorrectly categorized like TNAStars.com has been by Google News. There’s no denying that the true strength of the internet is in the people who access it on a daily basis and those people are using social media outlets to get their news.
So with that realization, we’re announcing an effort to more than double our current number of Twitter followers from 238 as I write this column to hopefully over 500. Understand, though, we definitely want many, many more followers than 500, but you have to start somewhere. Help us as we “Strive for Five” in our fight against an unjust distribution system that opts to keep the copy and paste websites in business while crushing independent news providers like TNAStars.com.
Tell your friends about following @IWHeadlines, retweet our news when we post it to Twitter, ask your followers if they’d be interested in following us. The only hope we have of overcoming the current ridiculous, robot-fueled (and robot-flawed) distribution system is to take our efforts directly to the people. If you’re so inclined, please help us get more Twitter followers.
There is a lot more about this situation that frustrates me so I’ve opted to make this column the first in a two part series. Next week, I’m going to write about some aspects of this unfair, robotic classification by Google News that really shows how this system is flawed. For example, how many of those copy and paste websites that are not being cited for posting articles that are “disproportionately short” use the income generated from their advertisements to purchase merchandise from one of the wrestling companies and then give that merchandise away to their readers? If you answered “none” then you are correct. IWHeadlines.com, on the other hand, gives out swag to its readers, mailing list subscribers, and Twitter follower left and right!
Stay tuned to IWHeadlines.com – I’ll have more on this issue next week.
joe1897 [at] gmail [dot] com