Is the ever escalating fight Google is waging against spam creating too much collateral damage? Are a handful extremely dedicated employees the right solution? In a story published on PBS they take a look at the recent supplemental sex blog issue that we covered here a few weeks ago.
In this recent case, Tony Comstock of Comstock Films noticed that his site’s Google-referred traffic had dropped precipitously after Christmas, and told blogger/author Violet Blue. She then notified Xeni Jardin at culture blog BoingBoing, who then wrote a high-profile post on the subject.
On the public side Matt came in addressed the problem and things got fixed. Here's an excerpt of the email with the PBS author.
Google does adjust its algorithms to try to improve search quality, and that can cause changes in rankings for sites. Before new changes are deployed, they have to pass a number of tests. We can also look at factors such as the amount of “churn” [change in search results] caused by a particular change. In this case, the small number of sites affected meant that we didn’t detect the situation before it went live. As a fallback, we also monitor feedback from various online sources: blogs, forums, emails, etc. In a very short time, we noticed a couple blog posts, checked out their reports, and discovered the issue. After that, we were able to fix the issues involved quite quickly.
Danny did a killer job looking back at what happened and analyzing the sex blog fiasco
Many different things could be going on, but for a number of similar sites to be involved, it does suggest that Google was doing some tinkering with the ranking algorithm, especially perhaps parts that deal with adult content.
Perhaps there was indeed some start of this that happened a few weeks ago, and maybe a further tweak just went too far this week. The attention certainly got Google to make some adjustments, so I don't see this as some attempt to wipe out indie adult sites.
Last week a non SEO blog that I read had a problem with google
I suspect the major problem is that Typepad doesn't allow 301-redirects from the old domain to the new one. So anything I post shows up at two URLs: www.thedisneyblog.com/.html and thedisneyblog.typepad.com/.html. I don't know what's going on for a fact, but I'm guessing that Google's Index interprets this as being spammy and blocks the domain. I wouldn't mind if they delisted the typepad domain, but they've delisted the www.thedisneyblog.com domain. The one I've been working so hard to restore since August.
I'm going to email them again today. But it is my understanding that Typepad has no plans to change that and no other way to resolve this indexing situation with Google.
So, I guess I'm looking for two things. Either someone at Google who can get this straightened out for me. Or someone who can help me quickly port The Disney Blog to another webservice and leave Typepad/SixApart behind. I'm willing to pay for the latter choice. Please email me today.
I blogged about it hoping that Matt or Adam would be reading on the weekend and take a quick peek. Again Matt went above and beyond and detailed the problem which turned out to be hidden text caused by the six apart CMS.Now initially Google tried to do the right thing contacting the site owner but those emails never got through:
One of the points in the comment left by Google was that they did try and contact me via email a week before they delisted the site. If I had received that email I would have taken care of it immediately. Alas, the only emails they sent to were all su, webmaster, owner, help, info @ thedisneyblog.com. At no point did they look for contact info on the website itself, or use contact info I had provided through the Google Webmaster Tools or Google Analytics. So I've added an email for
, and I would recommend every blogger do the same. It would be nice if at the same time Google sends out the one-week warning, they also highlight the offending blog in the Webmaster Tools (and Google Analytics if that's being used too) and then also send an email to the account used to configure either of those tools. I think that would cover all the bases.
In the end the problem got solved because the "right person" saw it amplified the situation and put it in front of "the right person" who solved the issue. Really kudos to you Matt for getting involved and doing th right thing.
Google has a lot of employees like Matt, Adam, Vanessa, Mihai Parparita, and Carl Sjogreen who I've personally seen respond to problems even on Christmas. While their effort is truly admirable and to be commended, is depending on the blogosphere's random "six degrees of separation" really workable? In cases where Google is responsible for 70% or more of a site's traffic there's very little a site owner can do to protect themselves. There was a time when you could depend on advertising with Google, however I have been one of the "small number" of sites that became collateral damage during a PPC algorithmic shift more than once.
So to you Googlers who are out in the trenches every day looking for issues and interacting with the community, and solving problems I salute and thank you. To you the faceless all consuming Google who holds so much influence over our daily lives, we fear you, but are both powerless and foolish to ignore you. While your changes may only affect a small number of sites, there's very little solace or consolation with that knowledge when you are one of those sites that was just marginalized.