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A few months ago, I logged in to my favorite website with much excitement and pride. It was this site of course. I instantly noticed that the traffic graph to this site showed a massive decline in traffic. I had been following the news about upcoming Google changes and had been working to make changes.  You see, I knew it was probably coming. What had worked for years and had brought my website, Cebu Experience to dominate the Google search results page (SERP) no longer worked. In fact, Google would now penalize sites that did that.

You see, they say Google controls about 80% of web traffic. I think it is far higher than that. And if Google decides they don’t like your site, you’re done. There are some exceptions, well known brand names like Amazon don’t really need Google any more. Facebook doesn’t need Google. The real world needs Google. Like it or not and I don’t like it, it is just a fact.

Google is King, It isn’t about Content

I watched the traffic on this site drop from 3000 visitors a day to less than 300. This happened in the Google The King of Trafficspeed of a blink of the eye. It pretty much knocked the wind out of me. I probably have thousands of hours of work on this site. Yes, thousands. Getting 3000 visitors per day to a Philippines expat website is phenomenal. I don’t think you’ll find any webmaster in this niche publicly admiring that achievement but they will to themselves. Most don’t get 500 visitor a day. Most would consider that a successful website. I don’t. Their traffic has gone up now. 🙂  Still most of my competition is not ranking well for this kind of site. Two are. One of those sites is good but not nearly as personal as mine.

There was a time you could put absolute junk on a web site. You couldn’t even read it as it was all computer generated. I’d watch this sites out rank me on Google. I refused to do that. I just kept writing with my imperfect style but with real content. No, I’ll never be a good technical writer. I’m error prone and I suck when it comes to the details of writing.

I was probably a bit traumatized when it comes to writing. I really had problems in college because of my poor writing. The only thing that saved me is the content of what I had to say. I’m not very good at saying it but I do have a knack for saying things that matter. While structuring what I say is a mess, I do have the gift of insight. Yeah, I know, some of you are laughing but frankly, it amuses me that you do that. Part of those insights is an understanding of why you laugh. Something those that do it, will never be able to see as they find it impossible for self criticize.

Anyway, after much thought, I have decided the best thing to do is start over. I may have to start over twice. I am unclear on that. There is a lot of good information on this site and google will not list it in their search engine. Not because the content is not good but because there are too many backlinks to it.

Google had an inherently flawed system. They know it and they are working hard to make changes but they are not working hard enough. Ranking a website isn’t as much about what you have to say as how many people link to your website. Those links also need to come from your competitors. They won’t link to you. At least one of the sites that is ranking well is doing something Google may pounce on. They have in the past but its not a priority for Google at this point and it doesn’t have much competition so it works.  It is likely to become a Google priority in the future again.

So bloggers do things to link to themselves. Google made some changes to detect that and the way my site got backlinks was the main thing that Google attacked. So the most personal website about living in the Philippines went sent so far down in the search engines that new people interested in the subject are very unlikely to find this site.

At the time it happened, my monthly budget for CebuExperience.Com was over $700 a  month. Yes, that is what it was costing me to run this site. While I have other sites, this one is the one that required resources and lots of them. And those were just my recurring monthly charges. There were other charges for things I needed to do that were a one time charge. For example the forum software cost me around $200. The forum is expensive to run. Oh, I could do it cheaper, I could do it for next to nothing. But, you get what you pay for in this instance.

I also spent a lot of money on learning how to overcome this smiting of the almighty Google. I know how to do it but in some cases, Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s web spam team has said the best thing to do is start over. That’s fine for a small five page website that is less than a year old. But you can’t make a website gain age. Only time will do that. That is one of the most important ranking factors in Google.

I’ve done some things to help but I’m uncertain if it will help.  One thing I can’t change is some of the links to the home page. You see, I can just remove some pages that Google objects to but I can’t remove the home page. I can change it but it is still at the same place on the web. What is there isn’t as important in this respect as that it is there. I don’t think I have much of a problem with the home page. Or rather I don’t think I should. It seems I do. If you search for me by name, this site does not come up. That’s crazy. There is one reason for it. Google thinks there are too many links to my website using my own name! There is squat I can do about that. I didn’t build them. It is also a stupid move, it makes no sense. Of course random people link to me that don’t know me.

Silly Philippines Expat Web Wars

Expat In Filipino Style HatOn top of this disaster, another webmaster that on occasion visits the Philippines but has a forum about Philippine expats thinks I’m the reason that his forum is failing. His forum fails because of several reasons. They are all about him. I could care less about him nor his forum. Why? Because he is clueless about what he is doing and the Philippines too.

He runs people off his stie because he’s afraid they are going to leave. I guess he is afraid they will leave and take others with him. I tried to help the guy and he, like many do, underestimated me. He never took me up on my offers. I went to his forum because a friend was there. A friend I rarely agree with by the way. But he’s good people. I met another guy there that I really like.  His name is Jake but I think he’s one of the few that still thinks highly of the guy that runs the site.  I never contacted him about coming to my new forum even though I have been told he ask about me.

You see this forum owner acts like he owns his visitors. If they visit other forums, he complains about it. He seems to think I’m “stealing his visitors.”  Though he calls them users. I prefer the term visitors. So what did he do? He launched a series of denial of service (DOS) attacks on my website.

I had an old website that was running software called Joomla. I really think it provides a better experience for visitors than does WordPress. But WordPress sites do better in the all important search engine rankings.

The software for that site was not updated. It is very difficult to update Joomla, especially if you let it go for a while, like I did.  Software is usually updated to block exploits. Exploits that sometimes allow people to gain full or limited control over the website. once they gain that, they can install things that allow them to run denial of service attacks.

A denial of service attack can be devastating. If you ever went to my sites and they wouldn’t load. They wouldn’t load because he hired some hacker to send tons of traffic to my site making it unusable. The server becomes stressed and it can’t connect to the database any more.

I really should sue this guy. He cost me a lot of money. When I lost most of my traffic, I downgraded my server to a virtual private server. That really brought out there was an attack. After about three weeks of that,  I upgraded again to a more powerful server. A more expensive server that cost me $220 a month. That’s about $100 more a month that I likely need right now. I’m still on it, moving your site to new hosting is rarely a pleasant experience. 🙂

Finally, I removed the old website with Joomla and Hostgator, the company that provides my hosting went to serious work to stop this. They found all the software the guy had installed and I removed the Joomla site so he couldn’t get back in so easy. There is always a way to get into a website. You can do many things to make it much harder but websites can be hacked.

Even the US government has had websites hacked. We all know banks have but it is usually the sites that take our credit cards that get hacked and not the banks. My bank recently cancelled my card and sent me a new one. They told me there was a security issue. More than likely some place I used my card had a theft of customer information.

I will say that once Hostgator recognized I really was having a DOS attack they performed beautifully. They had no problem finding the main file that had been installed that allowed it but the guy kept getting it back on this site. They intensified their efforts and I spent about a week locking things up like Fort Knox. That’s all I did for at least three days. Very boring task but they had to be done across all my websites.

I had ignored this guy, I really didn’t want to engage him. Finally I blew up on my forum a few times. Most of the time, I ended up deleting the post. The last time I didn’t though. I told him that he could put me out of business if he wanted but I too know how to to go the black hat forum and find someone to do the same thing to him.

How do I know he did it. He actually would email my friend and tell him. Oh, he tried to be vague about it but I can assure you if I took a mind to do so, he’s given me enough evidence to nail him on this.   He has even threatened me, thinly veiled of course but I understood.  I will only say one thing to that. It is a dangerous thing to do.

Each time he would email my friend the DOS attacks started within a few hours. From word that got back to me, he had the gall to complain about what I said about him.

All I want is for him to go do his thing and I will do mine. I don’t care what he says about me, I don’t care that people visit his forum. I hope they visit mine too but I won’t contact them to ask. That’s crazy. The web is a huge place and I can’t be spending my time trying to “steal” a few people from another website. I’m looking much higher rewards than that. That’s a game for amateurs and I’m no amateur in this business.

Bragging on my part? No, I love an old Clint Eastwood quote: “A man has got to know his limitations.” I know mine, I sometimes talk about them. When you explore limitations you also learn what your good at. I have some limitations that drive me batty but  also have some formidable strengths. One of those is intelligence. But where I really excel is undying determination. When my intelligence is not keen enough, my stubbornness will get me there anyway. haha And that strength is also a limitation, my undying determination.

Things have finally calmed down between me and this forum owner and I hope it stays that way. At

Flirting with Filipina

Filipina offering me pizza in Bogo City, Philippines

least no more information about him is getting to me and that’s the way I want it. Hopefully he has gone on to work on his website and make it something great for people to visit. The web is certainly big enough for both of us.

I’m going to start working on the new site.  It isn’t even online yet.  I would like to get a new theme but the one I want is $300 and I can’t spend that kind of money now.  I was getting ready to buy it when all the trouble hit. So when it goes public it will look probably look much like this one. I’m going to work hard though at making it easier to find key content. That could end up making the site look much different. Once I have that the way I want it, I’m going to move some of the articles from this site to that one.

Its Always About The Money

I love my life in the Philippines. I would say it is my passion. Honestly, I could make a lot more money making websites about other things. I do make websites about other things. I have thought about throwing in the towel on doing a website about the Philippines and you can thank Google for that.  Google simply killed the best site on the web in this niche. The same site they once loved they now will hardly show and it isn’t because of what is on the site, its because they  don’t like the links.

You see, when you set out to make money on the web, one of the most important aspects of this is your “niche.” What is your website about. Most professional Internet marketers would run from the Philippines niche. The reason for that is there is not enough interest. There is not enough American interest.

Beautiful FilipinaThere are not a lot of searches from the USA about the Philippines. My guess is that about half of those searches are from Filipinos that now live in the USA. That doesn’t leave a lot of people that are interested in moving to the Philippines. There are few products that I can promote that are related to that. Basically it is my own product.

I can make a lot more money writing about my Android phone and that too has become a passion of mine. I do have good information to share with those that are interested in the Philippines though and I have lots of things I can say about it. So while it is not the best business decision it is one of the things I love. I will continue to pursue that love.

This topic brings me back to one of my favorites. The wonderful women of the Philippines. They really are you know. Oh they are human and far from perfect. I’m not like many of the guys that are in hot pursuit of Filipina though. I have nothing against American women either. I think they are absolutely fabulous in their own way.  My options are certainly better here though.

So many guys say “Its always about the money.” I have a question for you. How much of your life is not about the money?  Not much and if you think it is,  you have more than you know what to do with. Of course there are some exceptions to that but they are rare. For men, money and sex usually are not far apart. A large part of our pursuit of money is to feed our ego. A huge portion of our desire for women is exactly the same thing. We may want to act all big and tough and strong but nearly all of us want women to want us.  We want that less for the physical pleasure than we want to be accepted. We want that yes. Women really are not all that different either. Though often stability in life is a huge part of their drive.

Nearly everything is about the money but not the money itself, what that money gets us. So lay off the Filipina, you and she are human.  Wat we at our very core are looking for nearly the exact same thing.

You were lucky enough to be born in the richest land in the world or a land with much more wealth than she was. You’re not better than she, you’re just lucky. Honestly, it is hard to be better than a Filipina.

By Rusty Ferguson

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