Articles on the Internet

Trying to find decent articles about crystals, rocks and minerals online can be a real challenge because so much of what your read on some mainstream websites is repetitive, unoriginal and in many cases, not even factual.  I research extensively in preparation for the articles I write on crystals, rocks and minerals for Stone Mania and have been doing so for a very, very long time.  One thing that has become apparent over the years is that people love using other people’s work and having tweaked it slightly, truly believe they can pass it off as their own.  In many cases the information that’s been copied is not even factual which has led to an explosion of inaccurate articles being published online especially in relation to rocks, minerals and in particular gemstones.

If you want to be sure that something you’ve read online is accurate, cross reference the information with a respected website, we tend to use four or five but our two favourites are Wikipedia and Geology.com  Alternatively try to find an article that has been written by an expert in that subject matter but admittedly unlike mainstream websites, they can be a little more difficult to find and you usually stumble across them when you least expect to. Specialist discussion forums can also be an invaluable source of information and if you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, you can always post a question.  Most forums have members with a vast amount of knowledge in a particular subject so it’s unlikely, certainly on the subject of crystals, rocks and minerals, not to be able to find the answer that you’re looking for or to get clarification on whether something is factual or not.

When Google first made it known that writing articles to post online contributed to search engine ranking, articles started popping up all over the place and whilst that certainly helped build the internet into what it is today, it also meant that a huge amount of copying was going on.  You could even pay someone to write an article for you but generally the end result was low quality, generic and repetitive and often it was blatantly obvious that its sole purpose was to improve search engine ranking.  I have to say that having had a few articles written for Stone Mania on crystals, rocks and minerals by different companies, they all turned out to be utter rubbish and were never used and I even refused to pay for them.

It’s really important to emphasize that there are some truly excellent articles to read on crystals, rocks and minerals but sadly, there’s also far too many that are really not worth reading at all.  Many unfortunately are works that have been copied and reproduced to make them appear to be original but having read exactly the same information so many times before, you don’t need to be Einstein to see that they’re really not original pieces of work.  The practice of stealing someone else’s material to use as your own is known as plagiarism and sadly, it’s rife across the internet.  Google has become wise to this in recent years and takes the problem very seriously but despite making various amendments to their algorithm, it’s not a problem that’s going to be easy to eradicate.

A few years ago if you put something into Google which related to crystals, rocks or minerals such as, “Turquoise comes from the French, pierre turquoise meaning turkish stone”, that exact line of text would appear in page after page of search results on hundreds of different websites.  We all have different ways of writing and expressing ourselves so it’s pretty unlikely that so many people would write a line of text in exactly the same way so it was clear the text was being taken from one source, only to be used in another. Thankfully this rarely happens nowadays not only because Google’s algorithm has changed so it searches in a completely different way but also because it has become wise to the issue of plagiarism and is trying to address the problem as best as it can.  That certainly doesn’t mean text is no longer being copied, it just means people are being much more careful.  It’s common knowledge that if you want a page that you publish to rank well, it must be original so significant changes are now being made to material that’s been plagiarized.  The problem with this however is that if not done carefully and by someone with a thorough knowledge of the subject matter, the article may end up having a completely different meaning and will likely also lose much of its accuracy.

There are more articles online about amethyst than I care to imagine which is great because it’s a fascinating and interesting gemstone to read about but unfortunately, some of what’s been written is not accurate and in some cases bears little or no truth at all.  Amethyst is the purple variety of the mineral quartz whose colour is caused by trace impurities of iron and manganese, this statement is factual and can be written or incorporated into an article in many different ways depending on who the author is.  If Google detects that it appears on multiple websites written verbatim and also finds additional text in the same article that is also repeated, it’s highly likely that the page will be penalized.  Facts are facts and Google recognizes that but it soon becomes clear when information is being copied, even if it has been changed.

Another example which demonstrates how inaccurate information can spread like wildfire relates to a myth that was written by French Poet Remy Belleau and published a year before his death in 1576:

“Bacchus (Roman name for Dionysus, Greek God of wine) was pursuing a maiden named Amethyste who refused his affections. Amethyste prayed to the gods to remain chaste, a prayer which the goddess Diana answered, transforming her into a white stone. Humbled by Amethyste’s desire to remain chaste, Bacchus poured wine over the stone as an offering, dyeing the crystals purple”

Although written in the 15th century, many articles online and even in a book that we have in our collection called ‘Guide to Gems’, state that it comes from Greek mythology which is not correct and furthermore, as the passage has continually been rewritten, it has changed considerably and in some cases is not even recognizable as the same text.  Several variations have also popped up and they too claim to be from Greek mythology.  This is one of the most popular:

“Dionysus had been insulted by a mortal and swore to slay the next who crossed his path creating fierce tigers to carry out his wrath. The mortal turned out to be a beautiful young woman named Amethystos who was on her way to pay tribute to Artemis (Goddess of virginity and protector of young girls). Her life was spared by Artemis who transformed the maiden into a statue of pure crystalline quartz to protect her from the brutal claws. Dionysus wept tears of wine in remorse for his action at the sight of the beautiful statue. The God’s tears subsequently stained the quartz purple.

Despite being a heart warming tale it is just that and is neither factual or a myth from Greek mythology.  The only reference to amethyst in historical text relates to a stone that was given to Dionysus by the titan Rhea in order to preserve the wine-drinker’s sanity.

The original myth as written by Remy Belleau is quite difficult to find and what people who want to use it as part of their article on amethyst don’t understand, is that they should be quoting it as historical text using citations instead of trying to reword it to try and keep it unique for the benefit of Google. As a result there are hundreds of versions online many of which lack accuracy and with regards to the longer version, not only does it bear no historical value, but there’s little or no proof of where it even came from.

Historical text should always be quoted instead of being rewritten and citations used to show readers that it has come from another source.  Citations should also be used whenever something is quoted, paraphrased, if you use an idea that has come from someone else and when a reference is made to someone else’s work.  They should even be put in place when something has been used to develop your own ideas.  The purpose of a “citation” is to make it clear to the reader that something has come from another source and it also enables them to refer to that work should they wish to.  Using citations in an article is completely acceptable and not considered by Google to be plagiarism nor does it detract from the originality of the article.

Some of the worse culprits of plagiarism are people who manage an online business because its success is largely reliant on Google.  In order for potential customers to find a website, it must rank well so articles are often churned out on a regular basis and lengthy descriptions written adjacent to products being offered for sale both of which help improve search engine ranking.

The purpose of this article is to highlight that not everything that’s published online is accurate and especially with regards to crystals, rocks and minerals.  A large amount of what’s available to read has simply been written with the sole purpose of increasing search engine ranking and not everyone goes to the lengths required to ensure that what they are writing is factual or accurate.  In many cases articles are written hastily or by someone with little or no knowledge of the subject matter hence the minimum amount of research is done in order to find suitable and adequate material to use.

From the perspective of an online business and someone with plenty of experience writing articles to publish online, I would recommend that citations be used where relevant and if ever you’re not sure whether something is factual or not, make that very clear in your article.  Sometimes it is difficult to confirm whether something is true and that’s fine but never take it for granted that it is without having hard evidence to back it up.  If in doubt leave it out or make it clear that you’re not able to find evidence to support what you have said, it’s better to be truthful than to put your name to something that’s simply not true.   Remember that once an article has been published online it’s likely to be around for a very, very long time and what may initially seem like a well written and original article, may over time begin to have a negative impact on the page or website that you’re trying to promote.

Ethical SEO and a Company to Avoid

Stone Mania is a UK based company who sells crystals, rocks, minerals and ladies gemstone pendants online.  Our business is extremely competitive especially the jewellery side because there are thousands of websites which sell jewellery so to be successful, it’s important to have a presence on page one of Google for the search terms which are most relevant to the type of jewellery that you sell.  The best way to achieve this is to use specific keywords in well written articles and include quality backlinks to your website.

When we search Google using keywords, it scours millions of pages looking for the most relevant results so if for example you’re looking for a gemstone pendant and use these words in your search, Google will return pages or websites that it feels are of the highest quality and these will appear towards the top of page one.  A quality website is one which contains strong, relevant and well written information, one that has links pointing to it from other quality websites, it should be well built, operate efficiently and most importantly be designed using ‘white hat’ SEO techniques.  SEO or search engine optimization is the practice of promoting a website for the purpose of increasing search engine ranking and this must be done in an ethical way and with the additional aim of improving the overall quality of the website and experience for those who visit it or in other words, using ‘white hat’ techniques.  Trying to cheat your way to the top by doing things in an underhanded manner in order to attract the attention of search engines solely for the purpose of increasing ranking, is not acceptable and these practices are known as ‘black hat’ techniques.

When a website is identified as using black hat SEO, it will be penalized and possibly even banned completely.  Black hat SEO is an absolute no go area for any online business who wants to do well in search engine rankings.  Putting together a few random words to form a sentence and then pasting it over and over again in hundreds of different forums all over the internet and linking it through a specific keyword back to the website that you’re trying to promote is a perfect example and it’s sure to get the website penalized or banned completely.  Genuine articles on the other hand which are well written, interesting and feature a few relevant keywords and that include a well placed backlink will attract the search engines attention in a positive way and you’ll be rewarded with an increased volume of traffic being driven to your website.

Whilst there are many companies out there which offer a great service to help you to achieve excellent search engine ranking, SEO Juice owned by Dave Adamson is certainly not one of them.  Looking for a company to work with can be an absolute minefield and when you search for SEO in Google, it’s difficult to know which companies are genuinely going to be able to help and which ones are just looking to cheat you whilst taking your money.  Sadly I was taken in by SEO Juice and Dave Adamson’s friendly approach but the damage that he caused to my online business in just six months, was quite shocking.  Whilst you may think that if you don’t see the results that you’re expecting within a few months you’ll just move on, things are not always quite as simple as that.  If you don’t see any improvement after three months, you should absolutely start looking elsewhere but by that time the company you’re working with may well have caused your website a great deal of damage by using ‘black hat’ SEO techniques and that’s exactly what SEO Juice was doing with Stone Mania.

 

A screenshot of the promo posted in the Warrior Forum by SEO Juice

Stone Mania has been selling crystals, rocks, minerals and ladies gemstone pendants online since 2002 and we’ve always done most of our SEO ourselves and so have a pretty good understanding of how things work.  We have always followed Google’s guidelines with respect to white hat SEO and in return, our website has done pretty well in search engine rankings.  We have used a few SEO companies to help us along the way but had not used anyone for a few years so wanted to find a company who could once again give our website a boost. Whilst reading a thread in the Warrior Forum, a company called SEO Juice owned and run by Dave Adamson in Sydney, Australia caught our eye and although we were initially very wary because of their claims of “guaranteed page one ranking”, after reading the many positive comments posted in the thread we decided to give them a go.  Despite speaking to Dave every few weeks to complain that we were not seeing any results from his work, nothing changed and after six months our Google ranking and the volume of traffic to our website had plummeted.

Having terminated our contract with SEO Juice and instructed another company, we began to see why our website had been doing so badly and it was all down to the black hat SEO techniques that they had been using.  He had farmed the work on the Stone Mania website out to India and because of the low quality spammy links that were being built, we had been penalized by the search engines.  When we started with SEO Juice, our main keywords were all within the first ten pages of Google but after six months, five out of six were outside of the top one hundred and the sixth was on page eighty!

An example of black hat SEO techniques can be seen in the image below.  The keyword jewellery online is one of our keywords and it links back to our website.  These kind of links were posted by the hundreds in every type of forum imaginable right across the internet.  Having been picked up by Google, stonemania.co.uk fell like a brick through the rankings.  All of our credibility online had been lost and everything that we had worked for in relation to SEO over the last ten years had been erased in just six months.

One of many links created by SEO juice. URL was sent to us in our monthly report

One of many links created by SEO juice.  This URL was sent to us in our monthly report

 

Since terminating our agreement with this SEO Juice, we haven’t received a penny back from them, they never worked for free for us and certainly never offered to keep working with us until we received our desired results.  In fact in the last email I received from Dave Adamson, he sympathized with the disappointing results and wished me all the best for the future.

Phony Guarantees from the promo of SEO Juice posted in the Warrior Forum

Phony Guarantees from the promo of SEO Juice posted in the Warrior Forum

What is even more frustrating is that I submitted a number of replies in the Warrior Forum to Dave Adamson’s various threads detailing my experience with his company so that others wouldn’t fall victim in the same way I had but my comments were continuously deleted by the moderators as they were seen to be inappropriate.  In fact SEO Juice has continued to post their promotional ads in various forums and when I comment on the threads, they are almost always deleted by the moderator.  So audacious is SEO Juice that their so called “Operations Manager” Ally Church wrote a sparkling review of the company that she was employed by and not only did she post it as a ‘customer’ in the Warrior Forum but Dave Adamson even featured it in his promotion.

Review written by Ally Church, Operations Manager at SEO Juice

Review written by Ally Church, Operations Manager at SEO Juice

One of my monthly reports from SEO Juice

One of my monthly reports from SEO Juice sent to me by Ally Church | Operations Manager

 

With regards to the review which was written by Ally, Dave Adamson states:

RE: Review written by Ally Church

As you’ll see from the screenshot above, the ‘review’ was posted on the the Warrior Forum on 24th January 2011 and in it Ally states that she signed up with SEO Juice in November so that must have been November 2010 yet Dave’s company SEO Juice was only formed in January 2011.  This is just one of many lies that Dave Adamson tells in order to save his skin.

So in the months since parting company with SEO Juice, we have spent a great deal of time and money removing the hundreds of damaging links that they built in order to rebuild the reputation of our website.

Trading online is already competitive enough without being knocked back by a cowboy company such as SEO Juice.  I only hope that anyone who is considering using Dave Adamson’s company who I can only describe as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, finds our reviews of their services first.

A screensot from SEOJuice.net