In the past, I used to write down some of my thoughts about the records I was buying purely for my own entertainment. (Check out the review section of this site for some of the crud that I penned). I think I started doing concert reviews – as I liked to keep a diary of what I’d seen – and this extended to album reviews too, thanks to my involvement with a music fan site I am no longer involved with. I used to get a bit of traffic off these reviews and there used to be a spike in virtual footfall whenever I posted a review of a concert.

Indeed, the days after writing about a live gig I would see people searching on Google, seeking other people’s thoughts on the night’s entertainment. This was pleasing and a feeling of inclusion in the World Wide Web is a nice thing. I was happy to share my thoughts and share my experiences with strangers. It seemed a nice, productive way of spending my time.

This was until June of this year when I posted a review of a pretty high profile concert (Madness at the Royal Festival Hall as part of the Ray David Meltdown Festival) and I saw zero traffic for my review. Nothing, nada, not a fucking bean. How so? I couldn’t understand why no-one would be seeking out reviews of the concert. I even went so far as to type in the gig into Google to see if:

1) There were any other reviews of the concert
2) If my website was even in the page ranking

I can’t remember exactly where my website rated but it was pretty deep into search results. Of course, people tend to search for something and then not bother clicking through 20+ pages of search results – so being on the front four or five pages is key to a successful website. Despite my review being very current (I posted it the same night as the concert), for whatever reason my words were designated by Google as not being relevant enough.

I then did some digging around and discovered that this year Google had changed their search algorithm, which apparently changed all the page ranking and now the search engine basis a websites suitability in terms of fresh, original content. Despite my site being packed with fresh, original content, I was no longer featuring highly. I saw my traffic plummet to single digit visits on some days and I found others on the Google Forums who were in the same position and wanted to know how to fix the problem.

There is no fix and there are businesses out there who depend on Google to direct customers to their sites and I read harrowing stories of established internet businesses finding their customers disappearing overnight. And there was nothing they, nor Google could do about it. It was all part of this search algorithm change.

So for a month or so, I watched my website die. OK – I didn’t have the greatest amount of traffic in the world, but people come to my site for certain requests and my regular daily traffic was gone – just one man and his dog was turning up. So I was left with the dilemma – do I quit now and take off all my content or do I try and come up with a new strategy? The weird thing was that despite my site being almost invisible on Google I was still shifting hundreds of Gb of data with my music and video files coming off the site. So I thought I would come up with a new strategy and it has kind of paid off.

Google and YouTube are the same company, no? There’s an awful lot of viewers on Google, right? So what if I try and harness the power of the two, bring them together and somehow kick-start the traffic to my site legitimately without using Blackhat SEO techniques? I had this idea to move my music reviews onto YouTube and then link to them via my site – cross indexing the two. I started my “Prog Review” channel and have seen an incredible increase in traffic to my site. My site is alive again. Huzzah! However, I have had to generate content for YouTube (which is Google) to get to this point.

But despite this success, I’ve had a couple of nay-sayers on the music website I used to be involved with saying that video reviews are crap because they can skim written reviews faster and sitting through some fat head flapping his chops about records takes up too much of their time. They do not want to be entertained, they want the facts fast. They kind of missed the point in what I was trying to do, but it got me thinking about Text Vs Video.

I personally cannot stand reading music reviews (or reviews in particular). People who are paid to write music reviews are the lowest form of life. They don’t buy the things they review, so therefore sit in an artificial domain compared to us serfs who actually pay out our hard-earned money and there is very often an agenda involved. Cripes, I used to work in magazines and on a number of occasions I had written stinky, honest reviews of products only to be told by my editor to bump up the score because an advert from the company involved was appearing in the mag. That left me pretty much fucking jaded with writing reviews for a living.

But yeah: words versus pictures? Will one supersede the other? I’ve been spending a lot of time on YouTube over the years and I’ve seen lots of interesting content made by enthusiastic amateurs who review electronics, computer games and what-not. And now I am trying to do the same. If you want to take part and be mildly entertained, then join me. But if you want to remain in the past, skimming reviews written by people who have no right to express an opinion, then play on, my friend.

The internet has changed everything…