My surprise for Friday was seeing that Google had dropped my blog (just the main page) from their index. It's somewhat annoying since it ranked in the top 10 for the phrase Self Publishing on Google, but the real draw of the blog is the 200+ individual posts, so it's not a total disaster if it stops there. The problem is, I don't know why it happened, and I'm running out of energy to figure it out.
One thing readers may have noticed is that I published the last half dozen or so posts with labels, a new Blogger feature that I believe is intended to help the search engines categorize the posts for better results. What I didn't realize is that the software was saving multiple versions of all of these new posts to my site with different titles. There's something about that approach that strikes me as wasteful, not to mention potentially looking suspicious to the search algos, so I republished all my articles without labels and deleted the directory.
But there's a certain sameness to the problems that repeat with publishing on the Internet that really gets me down. I've always been a content publisher, my writing is the draw, and I don't want to have to spend several hours a day trying to keep up with the latest twist and turns of Google's indexing practices. I've seen some of my most popular pages with high authority rankings and years worth of mentions all over the web lose their places to newcomers whose only authority appears to be their links to my pages!
Rather than "publish or perish", occasional waves of "publish and perish" roll through the web. The agony of it all is there's nobody (in authority) to ask, "What's going wrong?" When these things happen, I turn to those Google branches I have business relationships for those pages with in hope of gaining insight, but since none of them are directly involved with search, it's a long shot. Some day, before some poor publisher blows his brains out and leaves a note blaming lost visibility on the web, I hope the major search engines set up some paid "White Hat" line, where Internet publishers who are sure they aren't doing anything underhanded can call up, give a credit card number, and pay $100 for fifteen minutes of help figuring out what's wrong.
Maybe the reason Google hasn't done this yet (aside from the aggravation) is for fear of being accused of selling results. It's not paid placement I'm looking for, I can get that with advertising. I value my own time, and I'd rather pay to figure out if I've made some mistake than to spend a hundred hours spread out over the year trying to guess how I may have offended a computer algorithm. In this instance, some of the Google Books results for my excerpts are coming up before my own website pages, but that's just as likely to be a symptom as a cause.
Well, I promised myself that I'd never rant on this blog, but the truth is I'm too tired to care. I just finished editing down the January archive to make sure that's not causing a problem through duplication, even though I know that's crazy. Maybe I shouldn't have written the Blogger help people last week and told them what I thought of being forced to adopt the new version:-)
Update: I may have figured out this one myself. For some reason, Blogger has seen fit to start adding a "No Index" tag to my blog! Last thing I would have looked for, but here it is:
Who knows, maybe I'm misinterpreting it and it means something else, but I'm going to edit it out right now and we'll see what happens. Crazy times.