There is a Lack of Unity Among Black Websites

Over the last year, I’ve invested a lot of effort informing the public about the adverse impact of the corporate take over of the web and how this is hurting independent websites, particularly Black owned ones.

i-support-black-unity

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I have, however, not been very critical of the Black owned websites themselves.  Part of the reason for my lack of critique is that I’m very sensitive to the environment and in many ways understand when websites choose not to cooperate or work in unnecessarily competitive ways.

For example, Google, the most popular search engine, is now in a position to dictate to webmasters how to design their websites—what content can be published and how to link to other sites.   A webmaster does not have to comply with Google’s rules, but if they want their website to rank high enough to be found in Google’s search results, they have no choice.

Complying with Google’s mandates is not always easy.  The rules by which their search engine ranks websites changes constantly and no one outside of Google (few inside I suspect) completely understands how Google’s search algorithm works.  As a result, there is an entire industry of search engine optimization (SEO) experts ready to help webmasters with a wide range of tools and techniques to help sites rank high on a Google search result.  The most unscrupulous of these “professionals” will guarantee a number one ranking for a website, or even worse utilize “black hat” techniques (sophisticated ways of cheating) to obtain a higher search result ranking.  These techniques can leave a website worse off, by being penalized by Google for attempting to game their search algorithm and reducing the quality of the site as more emphasis is placed on the SEO than content.

As a consequence of SEO, webmasters now have an incentive not to link to other websites, or when they do link they are encouraged to use rel=”nofollow” which essentially tells Google’s search engine to ignore the link.  Google does not want webmasters to swap links with other websites or to be financially compensated for a link to another site without using rel=”nofollow.” Some webmasters, being overly cautious in avoiding Google’s warth, have gone a step further and have stopped linking to other sites altogether.

Before Google was invented swapping links was one way sites were discovered.  Today, when independent websites are harder to find via search, linking to other sites is even more important, but sadly it is done less frequently.  Many, Black owned, independent websites are not linking to each other in meaningful ways, and we are all harder to find as a result.

ebony-magFrustrated by having to spend more time and effort jumping through Google’s hoops, I’ve decided to more aggressively, and directly, support independent websites.  I visit these websites—not their social media platforms—and share their content, engage others on their discussion forums and comment on their articles.  I encourage everyone to take similar action, but I try to lead by example.

One of the entities I’ve been promoting is Ebony Magazine.  I subscribe to the magazine and have been enjoying Michael A. Gonzales’ Vintage Vision, column on Ebony’s website.  I’ve been promoting Ebony Magazine, as well as all of the Black owned magazines I’m aware of on Huria Search (an advertisement-free website dedicated to supporting Black owned websites).  I also promote Ebony’s website on my listing of the Top Black Websites.  I even have a collection of Ebony Magazine issues going back over 60 years.  I’m a fan and a supporter.

The last issue contained an informative article about Black Americans exiled in Cuba.  It was an interesting article and I learned quite a bit.  I shared my enthusiasm on Twitter:

Recently, I posted the following comment on an article Ebony shared from the, NJ Star-Ledger, about Amiri Baraka’s recent passing.  The comments expressed AALBC.com’s shared grief and a link to a short documentary we produced highlighting Baraka’s work.

Ebony marked the comment as spam!!

ebony-spam

Now I understand if Ebony does not want to link to a another site (as explained in great detail above), but they did not have to hurt AALBC.com by marking the post as spam.  They could have simply not allowed the comment to be seen.   Not only was the comment the exact opposite of spam, one could argue that Ebony, or at least their visitors, would have benefited from the link.

nothing-foundI do not support Ebony Magazine because I expect anything in return.  I learned long ago that the biggest websites are the ones least likely to reciprocate.  I do not support Ebony because I like I everything they do.

I support Ebony because what they do is increasingly rare and more important than ever to the Black community.  Their coverage of books in the last issue was good too—not the usual diet of celebrity books many magazines and websites feel obliged to focus on.  In fact, I tweeted about their book coverage as well.

My motivation is not to call out one magazine on a trivial slight, no one would have know about unless I mentioned it.  My goal is to highlight a symptom of a much bigger problem that manifests in numerable ways across the Internet landscape.  The fact of the matter is we are simply not working together, as well as we must, to survive.

Individually, none of us have a chance to compete, over the long term, against the huge corporations taking over the World Wide Web.  Embracing social media is not the answer.  Collectively, we provide FAR more support and promotion of social media platforms than we do our own and we continue to lose.

Unless we bind  together, support and uplift each other, we have no chance of retaining ownership of our voice on the web.  When we lose our voice, we see articles focusing on our scandals rather than our triumphs, we see content that is the most marketable rather than the most important.  We also lose our ability to create business and generate revenue online. We have already lost so much, but we still continue to willingly relinquish what little we have left.

I’m fighting to reverse this trend.  Will you help?

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About Troy

Troy D. Johnson is the President, founder and webmaster of AALBC.com, LLC (The African American Literature Book Club). Launched in March of 1998, AALBC.com has grown to become the largest and most frequently visited website dedicated to books and films by and about people of African descent.
This entry was posted in 2014, AALBC.com News, African-American, books, Culture, Huria Search, Independence, internet, Magazines, partnership, Race, Website Tips and Recommendations, writers and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • http://sidvirtual.azurewebsites.net/ Sid Virtual

    Great article. Of course since this is up my field, I will respond. A few perspectives are debatable; however, the meat of your message is definitely real. The more I apply optimizing for my own purposes the more I see a lack of unity among black businesses.

    As far as Ebony magazine spamming you link, try having seo at the end of your URL, I’ve gotten used to defending my work by sending out emails.

    I’ve been waiting for someone like yourself to come along. It will be a pleasure conversing with you.

    • http://aalbc.com Troy Johnson

      Sid Virtual I welcome the debate. Do you agree with the premise, a lack of unity among Black websites? I’m speaking in general; I, for example, have several long term alliances with entities that some may consider competitors. However, collectively we show little unity and as a result exert little power online.

      My other point is Google (social media too) are controlling our behavior in ways that are counterproductive not just for our own entities, but for the vitality of the web.

      At the end of the day, we have fewer profitable independent Black websites. The opportunities for new ones are severely constrained. Much of our effort goes to providing content for large corporate sites without being paid at all. Whether it is a writer blogging for the Huffington Post, or a mom sharing pictures of her family on Facebook, these people provide a service. Now we can provide this service to benefit ourselves or we can continue to enrich fantastically wealthy corporations without getting anything in return.

      One can argue about Ebony’s motivation on this specific case, if may simply be a lack of a coherent social/web strategy. Whatever the motivation I still assert there is a problem there.

  • Shawn Richards

    Very thought provoking article. My question to you would be, what’s the solution? From a technical standpoint, I mean. Aside from sharing links with other websites for the purpose of helping those with similar/relevant content be found, what else do you propose we do? Or is that all?

    • http://aalbc.com Troy Johnson

      Sharing links, while it would help, is certainly no long term solution. I pointed out the linking issue to illustrate that even this minor and trivial gesture is not done. Instead of linking to each other, we are linking to corporate websites, digging our own graves.

      I don’t have the answers. At this point I’m simply trying to help people, particularly people who create content and are working to generate revenue online, recognize that a problem exists. So few in the Black
      community are even talking about what is happening; it is almost
      surreal.

  • Rochelle D. Carter

    I remember back when linking to other websites was recommended, so learning about your efforts and learning the new rules has been very enlightening.

    • http://aalbc.com Troy Johnson

      Hi @rochelledcarter:disqus just for the sake of clarity I don’t want to give anyone the impression that Google says don’t link to another site. Certainly a page like this one, http://aalbc.com/writers/magazine.htm where I link to a bunch of magazines without using rel=”nofollow” is discouraged. Now if all of the magazines sites decided to link to each other as I’ve done, Google refers to this as a “link scheme” (“Link to me and I’ll link to you”) https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66356

      If Google flags your site as utilizing this tactic the repercussions can be quite severe. There is no such thing as calling Google up and explaining we are just a bunch of magazines supporting each other. Google is heavy handed and there is no way to directly communicating with them unless you are spending a very large sum of money with them.

      Why do I share the links in this fashion and risk running afoul of Google’s law? Well because don’t allow Google to dictate what I do and supporting the magazines is important. Now I used to jump through all of Google’s hoops until I understood what was happening and how we are being hurt.

  • Web Prospector

    Greetings Troy,

    I’ve been thinking the same thing about the lack of cooperation among Black web sites however a book I am currently reading is causing me to reconsider my thoughts a bit. The book is called “What Would Google Do?: Reverse-Engineering the Fastest Growing Company in the History of the World”
    by Jeff Jarvis (Author)

    The author points out that Google is not actually trying to control what it’s users do. In fact he points out that the tighter companies try to hold on to their users application of their site ala Yahoo, AOL, the less success they have.

    As far as unity goes, I appreciate where you are coming from but it seems like that could be addressed, if the right people build a site that attracts and empowers Black folks to create their own content and attract others in a way that doesn’t feel like they’re being manipulated. I believe the Black community is ripe and it’s about design as much as unity. If you look at FB and Twitter you see that the communities exist there already and they could exist elsewhere as well. I personally believe that someone just has to create the proper atmosphere or set of conditions, on a transparent platform that allows for the native creativity and expression of African Americans and that will be all she wrote.

    • http://aalbc.com Troy Johnson

      @Web Prospector:disqus as a Book seller I could not resist posting a link to more information about What Would Google Do? The book is a few year old. I wonder if the author’s opinion has changed any.

      I agree that closed sites are inherently flawed, whether is is AOL, Mysapce or Facebook. But Google seems to be trying desperately to head down that path with their Google+ social media platform.

      “…a transparent platform that allows for the native creativity and expression…”

      This my friend, is what the Internet was before a few, very large, corporations came along and started dismantling it for a payday.

      The communities we find on social existed before social came along. The
      difference today is the financial benefits and control is now concentrated in the hands of a few. I’d also argue the communities are not as good.

      Sites like Facebook exploded because they made it easy for virtually anyone to get online and and join the conversations–which is great. Ultimately some of these people will want something more, the type of content created by professional writers and journalists. Facebook, for example, does not create this stuff–we do, and this is our strength.

      This is why I encourage writers to stop posting on social media — publish on your own site and direct visitors there.

      Again the days of making alone are over. Discovery is controlled by
      Google and we are not benefiting. But we don’t need Google if we have each other.

      • Web Prospector

        @Troy:

        “…a transparent platform that allows for the native creativity and expression…” Actually I was refering to a social media platform that would be designed to fit the needs of African Americans. Not just have AA in the title but actually have built-in functionallity that would permit and stimulate us to use it in ways that;
        1. Help to address common problems
        2. Take advantage of our existing collective strength
        3. Stimulate young people to empower themselves
        4. etc.
        I believe this is possible and it really needn’t be a odds with any other entity on the net at least none that I would want to discuss online. :-)

        • http://aalbc.com Troy Johnson

          I agree wholeheartedly with all your enumerated points. I think we only diverge on the mechanism for accomplishing the goal. You see the “transparent platform” can not be owned by anyone, which is why I likened it to the Internet itself rather than a social media platform.

          Until recently no one owned the Internet, you were free to engage without having to deal with gatekeepers the way we do now. Today you can’t really launch a website without having mastered SEO and Social media–or a lot of money. 10 years ago this was not the case. The result is less diversity on the web.

          I think a mechanism for allowing sites to engage, without having to give up our independence is ideal. Posting links back to your site is a small step, but it is too labor intensive. I think software like what we are suing to communicate right now discus is a better step toward seeminglessly integrating websites and even sharing revenue. (Discus, by the way was the same software Ebony used to flag me as a spammer).

          • Web Prospector

            Troy:
            “Until recently no one owned the Internet, you were free to engage without having to deal with gatekeepers the way we do now. ”

            Free as long as you were prepared to devote some time to mastering email, telnet, ftp and NNTP. GOPHER and Lynx maybe made it a bit easier after that but you still had to learn to use them. Plus you still had to create your own searches, not necessarily easy and you needed access to a major server (Gateway), in order to pull off any kind of search. After all that you might have to wait hours or even days for search results to find their way back to you.
            My first 64k clone computer with printer and floppy drive cost me 4 grand and I had to teach it to read a keyboard and display the results on a screen. Knowledge of SEO is a small price to pay for potential benefit derived but if you don’t want to go that route then there has to be other ways but you can’t let yourself think that google has the whole world in it’s hands. Google is a concept, much moreso than a physical entity. The beauty of the computer is that it can implement any concept that one can design. The network infrastructure is not owned by google at all so we are still free to create whatever we need.

          • http://aalbc.com Troy Johnson

            Think of it this way. 150 years ago we were not free to get an education it was illegal to teach a Black person to read.

            100 years ago were were “free” to get education but schools would not let us in very easily. We then created our own institutions, HBCU’s. It was hard and required sacrifice but we were free to do it and we did. Many of our greatest minds were educated in by our own institutions. I liken that period to the early days of the web.

            25 years ago we were granted access to the nations finest institutions. Our best and our brightest fled HBCU’s to the greener pastures of the IVY or even large state and private universities — some of us even going out our way to disparage the names of the HBCU’s that provided opportunities for Black folks when no one would. This is analogous to where we are today.

            In 2014 the HBCU’s are in serious jeopardy, even venerable institutions like Morehouse and Howard (http://nyti.ms/1kL4y6J) are not immune. These institution are needed more than ever, as Black educational attainment and even literary is waning. The very institutions we abandoned the HBCU’s for are not serving us–especially our Black men (http://aalbc.com/reviews/reading-rates-decline.html). This is our future inline if we do nothing.

            Sure there will be individual success stories, but the great masses of us will be worse of. For the large institutions under server or hurt us and we no longer have our own institutions to fall back on.

            Instead of the cycle occurring over the course of 150 years I’m watching it happen right before my eyes in less than 15 years.

  • http://aalbc.com Troy Johnson

    My settings are setup to review comments with links in them. I missed the notification. Using manycontacts I have been able to increase the size of my mailing list far more quickly than I have been able to using social media.

    • http://thezaji.com/ zaji

      That’s pretty amazing. The only thing I’ve noticed with them that I don’t like is the pop-over window asking visitors to sign-up. I don’t care for that sort of intrusion.

      • http://aalbc.com Troy Johnson

        I did not like that myself, initially, But it really is not that intrusive compared to interstitial and pop-up ads, Also everyone I’ve told about it has found it to be highly effective as well. Try if for a month and see if the growth in subscribers is worth the trade off.

        • http://thezaji.com/ zaji

          Will do.

          Now, the biggest hurdle, to get people to visit my site!

  • http://www.culsire.com LaNée Javet

    I love this post and the issue being addressed! I love it event more because I have website that I believe will be the solution to this issue. Since I don’t want to get marked as a spammer, I won’t leave it here :) but I’m working real hard to create a platform where Google is not the the measure of our success. We are the Black Google for information that pertains to our community among so many other things.
    How do I get in touch with you Troy? I’d love to speak with you regarding what I’m doing. I’d also like to do a feature article on you and your website.

    • http://aalbc.com Troy Johnson

      @lanejavet:disqus please leave the link so that other may benefit from your ideas. You may email me at troy@aalbc.com I created a search engine that search Black sites: http://huria.org It is not a Black google because it does not have advertising or favor corporate sites. I’m interested in seeing what you have.

      • http://www.culsire.com LaNée Javet

        @AALBC:disqus thank you for your response. My website is http://www.culsire.com and our mission is very simple, take the vastness of information for the global world and scale it down to information that impacts African Americans. We address our day to day life from the angle of business, community, life, technology, career, and more! We have a business directory (albeit there are only 25 businesses right now) but I’m willing to put in the work to do what’s necessary to bring business back to my community. We also have an event search and scholarship directory.

        We just launched on March 15th so we’re still ramping up and getting to our final destination, but we want to be a site that ultimately offers solutions. To learn more checkout the About CulSire tab http://www.culsire.com/about-us/

        I’ve checked out the huria site and it looks interesting. I’ll email you now, I’d love to see how we can work together.

      • http://www.culsire.com LaNée Javet

        Hi Troy, just confirming you received my email…

        • http://aalbc.com Troy Johnson

          I did get it. I’m traveling this week and will reply next week. Thanks for reaching out!

  • http://aalbc.com Troy Johnson

    @sidvirtual:disqus I should have blocked this post and marked it as spam! :-) I’ll visit your site and check out your article now.

  • http://sidvirtual.azurewebsites.net/ Sid Virtual

    That makes absolutely no sense. Troy you really come across as someone who doesn’t understand the intricacy of SEO.

  • http://aalbc.com Troy Johnson

    What does not make sense?

  • http://sidvirtual.azurewebsites.net/ Sid Virtual

    When you said you should have spammed the post. The post is relevant to the conversation. What would be the point in spamming it? I have come to realize that some of these concepts are confusing for some.

    I answered your question. I’m focused on one thing, can’t be a jack of all trades. I service people who look to promote their websites. Trust me, you don’t need a website to make money online. In any event, I wish you much success in finding what it is that you are looking for.

  • http://aalbc.com Troy Johnson

    Wow @Sid Virtual:disqus lighten up man. My last statement was a joke: You posted a comment with a link, if I was behaving like Ebony I would have marked you as a spammer–get it?

    Obviously I did not mark you as a spammer, because that would have been the complete opposite of what I’ve been complaining about. Did you also miss the smiley face?

    It is a good thing I know a lot about SEO–otherwise I might have been offended by your comments LOL!

  • http://thezaji.com/ zaji

    I read your post & comments about a day ago. Your comment was so clearly a joke and spoke to the silliness of what you experienced, Troy. I laughed when I read your response to Sid. LOL. Too funny.

  • http://sidvirtual.azurewebsites.net/ Sid Virtual

    Seriously my brother. That was clearly understood. The reflection was referencing your lack of understanding for why Ebony removed your comment from off their article. Seriously, my brother get real. I was communicating with another gentleman about the article I wrote debating your perspective and he, I & others are making money using Google’s products. In the end, it is how your work the system. If you don’t work it, don’t expect any results.

  • http://aalbc.com Troy Johnson

    @zajizee:disqus perhaps Sid’s reaction is reflective of what I’m talking about. He misinterpreted something I wrote and rather than asking for clarification he took it personally and attacked my intelligence. Despite that I would still work with Sid or even Ebony. But the environment is hostile and our collective behavior sadly reflects this reality. Thanks for the sanity check on the joke. I’m no Chris Rock, but I dd not that joke would go over any one’s head who read the article :-)

  • http://thezaji.com/ zaji

    Nope, certainly didn’t go over my head. I laughed out loud.

    I’ve noticed the hostile environment when it comes to sharing amongst us. It is a bit baffling to me that people who claim to be intelligent and well read don’t see the dynamics of what is going on in the culture and where the real problem lies. So many claim to be conscious, yet they are unaware of the subtle subconscious brainwashing that causes us to be combative/defensive/hostile with each other.

  • http://aalbc.com Troy Johnson

    @sidvirtual:disqus I’m afraid you missed the point of the entire article. First, the article was not about me, Ebony or even you. It was about Black websites collectively. Second, I have no idea why Ebony flagged my post as spam, nor did I write that I did. I described one potential motivation. Third, I make money from Google. Google is just one stream of revenue that allows me to earn a living (albeit modest) off what I make from my website. Given that my content is focused on Black books, that is a noteworthy accomplishment whether you are inclined to acknowledge it or not.

    Finally, and most importantly, I could very easily simply direct all of my energy solely to my business. I don’t have to create and maintain websites like http://huria.org to promote other websites–websites that some, with a different mentality, would consider competitors.

    I could instead focus all of my energy on AALBC.com and enjoy the additional revenue and free time that would bring me. But there is a very profound problem that we, as owners of independent websites, all have. Some refer to it as the “crabs-in-the-barrel mentality.” When you combine that mentality with the corporate take over of the web, we, as Black independent website owners will not be able to survive over the long term. Again, we have lost too much already.

  • http://sidvirtual.azurewebsites.net/ Sid Virtual

    Troy, get real. The impression that you left with your article is whether you understand how to apply SEO. Perhaps you should have used another backdrop to get your point across. In any event, as far as black business owners networking together, is a problem that requires further investigation. I could make certain claims; however, would it be fair in the whole scheme of things. You see, my family has a few entrepreneurs who have done well. The problem is they made their wealth by using methods that some would call the working class slave market. What I am having a problem with, even in my own family, is that they believe that all black people are not made the same. That certain classes of our society should be taken advantage of. I for one have a problem with that.

    I’ll take you way back, there are some that say their is a difference between an African American citizen and a Black American citizen. There are those who consider African Americans the elite and Black Americans as slaves for the labor force.

    Now as far as Google and using their products, man please, you know as well as I that Google, Bing, Microsoft, Apple, etc are companies that are only concerned about their profit margin. Who doesn’t know that. When it comes to Blacks supporting blacks, this starts with how we perceive ourselves. I don’t know. I speak with family members who put down others for various reasons. Most of their reasons are not even close to sound.

  • http://www.searchengineplan.com Kamau Austin

    I think you make some valid points and actually also being a web marketer and SEO for over 10 years you certainly showed you have a grasp of SEO and Google’s approach to curtaining the endeavor. Large Corp Black sites aren’t interested in giving any exposure to entrepreneurial sites.

    In fact sharing links with any site isn’t done much anymore. White sites don’t support each other either much anymore. And Google, Facebook, & Microsoft battle constantly over web users so I don’t really find it as just being a black thing.

    I think small businesses need to create brands on the local level using both traditional media & online media so people start searching for their brands and then Google has to respond to them because they don’t make content they more organize and facilitate our content.

    We owners should try to establish a strong viable presence on social media directing people to their websites/blogs for more info. We may need to organize a large networking and lobby group to work to keep net neutrality and other key issues. That would be a start.

  • http://aalbc.com Troy Johnson

    @sidvirtual:disqus The fundamental problem is, as you suggest, one of class, not race. However, at the risk of being repetitive Black folks make an already bad situation worse.

    As far as Google and the other handful or powerful entities controlling the ‘Net; sure. you and I know may know they are all about makin’ money, but the assumption that we all know this is not a conclusion one can draw from our collective behavior. I can give you countless examples of how we step over each other to support a corporation. It is as if we do not feel validated unless a corporation does it.

    But we don’t have to rely on anecdotes, a cursory look at what we own online vouches for our weakness.

    You seem to be really high on SEO. But consider this, SEO serves Google, not the person running the website. Just think about it for more than a few minutes…

    Because Google controls the web, we HAVE to be concerned with SEO, which is the only reason I am. For now I’m playing the cards I’m dealt, but I’m calling for a fresh deck and a new dealer.

  • http://aalbc.com Troy Johnson

    @kamauaustin:disqus I agree 100% with your last paragraph, but making that happen is exceedingly difficult. We are in an environment where people are much happier to have 10K Twitter followers than 10K monthly visitors to their website. They are confused why they don’t have a profitable website, then figure they must need to go on Facebook and get 10K followers there…

    The other problem with social media is that it is so sticky–especially Facebook. It is hard to pull people off of it. I avoid telling people to look for AALBC.com on some social media platform for this reason.

    It has gotten to the point now where a Facebook page is a business entity’s main web presence, despite the lack of control, functionality, privacy and, most importantly, ownership. Others desperate to make some money online are selling their Facebook back splash and profile images.

    I only post links to my content. But overtime this strategyhas become less effective as social media appears to be showing posts with out-bound links less frequently than posts without links.

    You can buy promoted posts to compensate but, after a while you feel like a fish being reeled in as your ad spend has to continue to increase to maintain the same level of click through as in the past

    Google dictates to us how to present our content, under threat of disappearing in search results, to make it easier for them (not us) to organize our content so that they can more efficiently generate revenue from it.

  • http://www.searchengineplan.com Kamau Austin

    Troy where can I begin? Social Media is Sticky but someone can build a presence proactively in Social Media and a following and push the friends/followers to their website unlike SEO which increasingly is becoming like a guessing game and crap shoot.

    For instance I have over 5,000 friends on one Facebook account. I had to create good and provocative content over the years to have this following. I have a small brand recognition on the platform and people will click to see my content if they are interested in the topic.

    While Facebook is addicting I’ve seen through my sites stat numbers with the right teaser text and a link to my website/blogs I can get hundreds of people a day by automating posts to my friends at different times of the day. I use a technique of automating posts at different times of the day with 3rd party software, manually posting to large social media pages and groups, mixing my content with zany humor and comedy, and blogging on a regular basis with share applications very visual so my posts can go viral.

    My analysis is while Facebook is reported as allowing 16% of your friends to see your posts it is actually only about 5% of your followers will see a post at any given time. This is why I use the methods above to increase my chances of posts being seen.

    Also according to the Wall Street Journal Facebook was losing user retention and usage time because their algorithm was limiting interaction between friends so Facebook had to increase interaction a bit. Actually they seem to imply that people like posts to links (but to reputable sites).

    So while Facebook wants to limit business owners exposure on the platform to force them to advertise too much limiting of their posts also makes user retention on the platform go down. So they have a dilemma.

    But I do agree we have to band together because the major corporations do want to just slice up then Internet pie between themselves and leave nothing else for the rest of us.

  • http://www.searchengineplan.com Kamau Austin

    BTW Troy the Spirit of Cooperation is alive and well with Blacks in social media. I have a group of Facebook friends that about 35 of us have friends of at least 4,000 each and we cross promote. Sometimes the cross promotions go to someone’s YouTube video or website.

    But I’m with you people can’t expect to put all their efforts into a social media presence and expect their website to flourish. It just isn’t gonna happen. They have to get people off the social media platforms to their websites or they are just providing free content for the social media sites to capitalize on.

  • http://aalbc.com Troy Johnson

    Sure @kamauaustin:disqus there are certainly groups of Black owned entities cooperating online. I too am part of a group of websites actively working together; some of these platforms include http://thebooklook.com, http://www.mahoganybooks.com, http://mosaicmagazine.org, http://www.africanvoices.com, http://www.centerforblackliterature.org and many others.

    But as you mentioned large Black sites are simply not interested in giving exposure to entrepreneurial sites. This however was not was not always true.

    Again, the problem is the environment is increasingly challenging, and I don’t believe some social media platform or Google can be the centerpiece of our long term strategy. How can the entities causing our problems be a key component of the solution?

    Of course anyone really high on Facebook or Google will reject this notion. Often the first assumption one makes when I express this sentiment is that I don’t understand social or SEO–which is absurd. They’ll also assume I’m not making money from Google or I can’t pull traffic from Facebook. This too is false.

    I just don’t like the current trends and am working with others to combat them.

  • http://thezaji.com/ zaji

    Ok. Enough talk. *smiling* How can we make an effort to change this problem? I am an author, editor and graphic designer. I’ll also be starting an online bookstore soon. How can we work together, Troy, to exchange links, or something, so that we can each, in some small way, help each other?

    I’m ready today to make updates to my website to that effect. Let’s do this. It’s time for action.

    I am also willing, as the conversation arises, to suggest to others that they can exchange links with you.

    I already visit websites of brown folks and support by commenting and subscribing, AND, sharing their links with others.

  • http://aalbc.com Troy Johnson

    @zajizee:disqus please share a link to your website –I’m not Ebony ;-)
    In today’s world you have to concern yourself with SEO and social media — despite what I would like to see you still have to deal with the environment in which we live. However, for social media I suggest you try to engage on the platform as little as possible; simply use it to as a calling card to direct visitors to your website.

    I would recommend downloading this discus software. I use it on my blog as well as my main website. It makes it easy to share and manage comments. I’d also recommend using AddThis. It is the software that puts those social Icon sharing icons on the page.I also highly recommend an app called manycontacts.com I’ve been able to grow my eNewsletter substantially using this software– and don’t sleep on an old fashions mailing list. It is one of the few things that you control completely and they are still effective. I wrote about some of useful tools here: http://aalbc.com/blog/index.php/2012/12/24/7-free-tools-guaranteed-website-better/ (I even praise Google twice)

    Continue to network and support others. A couple of years ago we formed an entity called ABLE (Alliance for Black Literature and Entertainment) http://www.huria.org/able/ to fuel partnerships. While we have made some progress, most of us are so engaged in our own projects there is little time to collaborate. That is the challenge.

  • http://sidvirtual.azurewebsites.net/ Sid Virtual

    No bra, I not high on Google. I think you give Google far too much credit. Like I just explained to another gentleman, Google isn’t the only search engine. They happen to be the largest; however, not the only one for sure. SEO is about addressing many search engines globally. In any event, you seem to be stuck on Google while I’m more concerned about black business owners being there for one another. On the Internet and off.

  • http://aalbc.com Troy Johnson

    I wrote high on “SEO.” But if you took all the other search engines, added the all together, they don;t come close to Google. Google share of search is growing. They are so dominant they are effectively a monopoly. So while it makes sense to try to optimize for the top search engines, Google is the one people with finite resources tend to focus on.

    It is fascinating you would imply the I’m more concerned with Google than Black businesses…that’s deep.

  • http://thezaji.com/ zaji

    My response to this disappeared. Did you see it? Odd.