If you’re not careful, search engines like Google might be eating into your business model by giving away your premium content for free
The way we depend on Internet these days, it won’t be a surprise if Urban Dictionary declares it as a synonym for food and water in the near future. Brace yourselves.
Jokes apart, the internet could be a boon or bane for your business, depending on how you use it.
So it was a Sunday afternoon when this caught my attention. Though my procrastinating self was dominant, still I thought of penning this post down. It’s about the saviour of our modern day lives, which can fetch you information about literally anything, at the touch of a button. Yes I’m talking about big brother Google, the king of the internet. And it’s also about Appsumo which is helping the worldwide entrepreneurs in growing steadily by providing them useful tools for their businesses.
Well, I don’t call myself an expert, but I’ll share what little I know about how to be careful with Gooogle because it can see everything you do on the internet if you’re not smart enough to hide it. You get what I’m saying? I’ll explain.
I was just lazing around when I remembered I had to check Appsumo for information about a specific business growth hacking tool. They had an amazing product deal going on which I was planning to purchase. I was searching online to find reviews about that product and its features. Turned out the product was not of as much use to me as I had thought. So I was just proceeding to delete it from my cart. And popped another bestseller suggestion named Kopywriting Checklist, worth only US$10.
I was pretty intrigued by the ‘K’ in its title and description (smart marketing). It looked to be a good resource checklist on copywriting tips and how to write awesome articles, writeups, etc. Copywriting in advertising and marketing is something I had no clue about but wanted to learn about since long. So once again I started research to find out if I could benefit from this checklist.
Also read: Chatbots will change the way we do search
Ok so what happened next just blew me off. The real threat of using Google improperly. Being the lazy person that I’m, I just copy pasted the title and appended the term “appsumo pdf” to it in google search bar. Just in case you didn’t know, using keywords this way usually brings you more information related to that particular product. The following were the top two results on the first search page.
You see that — I didn’t even do much. I simply searched using the title keywords and clicked on the second link that appeared before me. Skadoosh! See the link I clicked closely.
Without even being logged in, Google took me directly to the secure server location, where the same file is stored, which Appsumo is selling for $10 on its website. Now if you’re an average internet user, you won’t know the extent to which this is DANGEROUS.
A visitor to your site should NOT get access to the secured server area of your website without providing genuine login credentials. And if they’re able to do that, and your site is still running fine, then God definitely has mercy on you.
It’s like waiting for a Hiroshima to happen to you because you never know if the incoming visitor is just another internet user, or a thorough hacker capable of injecting custom php/java scripts that could take down your whole website or steal confidential customer data such as emails, passwords, credit card details, etc.
In short, it could be very denting for your site as well as business in every possible aspect.
Take for example this above case, with every single download happening through Google and not Appsumo’s website. Appsumo is losing $10 potential revenue one download a time. Let’s face it, no one would pay for an item if they are getting it for FREE from Google search.
You must be wondering how did I get the file location. Well, popular search engines like Google, Bing, Yandex, etc., have robots or crawlers. They keep scanning live site pages on the internet, round the clock and store all the information about them as a snapshot in their cache servers. This is how whenever you use a search engine to search for something, its able to provide you with results relevant to what you searched for. They know everything that is out there on the world wide web.
But there’s a catch. They know only what you allow them to know. In an average joe’s language, robots or crawlers are like uninvited guests. They come and knock on your door without invitation. But they will go back if you don’t open the door. So you could decide for yourself, who comes inside your house and has access to which resources in your house. In SEO terms it’s called indexing or no-indexing of a web page by search engines.
Its achieved through a file called Robots.txt on your website that acts like a gate pass and either allows the search engine robots to enter your site (with permission to access only those pages that are allowed by you) or sends them back without giving them any information. When you apply no indexing to a webpage on your site, it’s denied access to get crawled by robots and thus won’t show in search engine results. Thus, its very important on the website admin’s part to draw that line.
Because Google is so dangerously smart, even if you just know the name of a file and that it’s hosted somewhere on the internet, you can search for that file and find it using various advanced Google search commands. But for the location to show up in search results, the page has to have indexing enabled. Else you need to know the exact webpage address to reach it which is very difficult to find out.
Coming back to Appsumo, as per me, there are two mistakes from their end:
First, their site admin team forgot to apply a no-index tag in the downloads section of their website. It’s a basic practice by websites which give freebies, subscription, free/paid downloads, etc. They ask you for your email before redirecting you to those webpages that give you the link to download.
Second mistake is not saving the file under another name. This practice makes sure no one is able to search for your file by its name even if the webpages they’re on, gets indexed by mistake.
So two important lessons here:
- First: Even Sumos are humans and make mistakes.
- Second: Google can be dangerous — handle with care.
That said, I love both Google and Appsumo. I’m sure Appsumo will restrict access to the area mentioned in this article as it’s the secure area of their website & hopefully send me a gift for saving them potential revenue loss in the future (wink, wink).
Hope you found this write up worth a read. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where Google became a trouble for your business? Do share your experiences or comments below.
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