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Monday, 14 April 2008

My Google Page Rank Nightmare

The reviews for my two novels were good - with one exception: an article about my Paris novel that came from a newspaper in South Africa. It was a small, spiteful piece of writing. The reviewer had latched onto a sentence in my biography that said that I had once worked for Air France in Paris. Her critique seemed aimed more at her own thinly veiled resentment of 'trolley dollies' than with anything I had written. I knew that I would be wise to ignore the thing. That's precisely what I did.

Years went by - over eight years until one bored afternoon, I googled myself. Years of writing on travel for a national newspaper in the UK meant that I would, inevitably, have multiple entries under my name. Alas, none of my good reviews appeared but on page 7 - it was a very dull afternoon so yes, I got as far as page 7, there was the small, spiteful South African review. After a few stunned moments of "Where the hell did that come from?" I decided, again, to ignore it. But it was resolved not to ignore me. Within a few months it had wormed its way up to page 2. A year later, it was the first entry. And there it stayed. Any editor, film producer, potential employer would type in my name and up it came. Still small, still spiteful but always there.

I emailed Google who sent me what looked like one of my old school algebra classes in reply. I contemplated travelling down to their headquarters on a Greyhound bus and just sitting in their waiting room - I assumed they had a waiting room - until some nice clerk came out and saw me and then removed the offending entry.

"Why don't you just call the newspaper in South Africa?" asked a friend. So I did. I got a nice man whose name I have forgotten - he seemed like an old school journo, and when I explained the potential sabotage of a writing career that this old, old archive page from his paper could cause, he was genuinely concerned. He was sure that something could be done but said that I must go through his online content editor, a Mr Trench. I remember that name. I should. I've emailed him repeatedly and he has never replied. Eventually that nice, first man emailed me to say that Mr Trench could not tamper with archive material. I can see his point - up to a point, but archives used to be hidden, dusty, musty things. You consulted them if you really wanted to know something. I don't think that anybody REALLY wants to read this piece of writing. And for obscure reasons connected to links, regular updating of pages etc, this review has toppled even mighty Amazon from the top of the list.

Just recently I've gone into battle. And I think I might have won. But that's for the next post.


Val said...

Janette, I live in south Africa and I'm the person who wrote the review on Amazon on 'The Singing House' which I've put on your blog.
Please tell me which newspaper it was and who wrote the article and I'll see what I can do.
I also read 'the Paris novel' and loved it.
Val De Beer.

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