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SEO issues: Google not indexing most popular posts

  1. I've had some good luck with my blog: a few of my posts have gotten a ton of traffic, including links on BoingBoing and Reddit. However, when I try searching for the TITLES of these posts, the posts do not appear in google search results.

    For example, my post entitled "the loneliest walla", the google resuts list ten links to my blog, but not my blog itself.

    Similarly, if you search for delhi struggle google sari, which combines the name of my blog with the title of a post that got tens of thousands of visits and was linked on BoingBoing, among other places, links to my blog are listed but not my blog itself.

    I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. I've submitted my site to Google and pointed it to my sitemap in the webmaster tools. What else can I do? Is it the fact that the cutline blog theme serves the post title in H2 tags? Did I make some mistake when I upgraded my domain from ourdelhistruggle.wordpress.com to ourdelhistruggle.com? I appreciate any help you can provide.

    Thanks for your help,

    Dave

    The blog I need help with is ourdelhistruggle.com.

  2. The only thing you're doing wrong is concluding that your posts aren't indexed. They are, for example your BoingBoing post:

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=safari&rls=en-gb&q=site%3Aourdelhistruggle.com+google+sari&aq=f&oq=&aqi=

  3. True: I misspoke when I said they weren't indexed. However, there are certainly some issues. For instance, try searching for a random phrase from one of my posts: "Nighttime at the CNG pumps: a sight we saw all too often because the route to our flat went right by the gas station."

    Here are the results:

    #
    Metal Monkey: Tootle, tootle: His Highness tours the Royal Domain
    two autos queuing for fuel - Nighttime at the CNG pumps: a sight we saw all too often because the route to our flat went right by the gas station. ...
    metal-monkee.blogspot.com/.../tootle-tootle-his-highness-tours-royal.html - Cached - Similar -
    #
    autos « Our Delhi Struggle
    8 May 2009 ... Nighttime at the CNG pumps: a sight we saw all too often because the route to our flat went right by the gas station. So close that we could ...
    ourdelhistruggle.com/tag/autos/ - Cached - Similar -

    The first result appears to be a splog, and the second is not the post itself but a tag collection.

  4. Similarly, search for the title of another one of my posts, using quote marks: "it’s official: Our Delhi Struggle will be a book!".

    The only result comes from en.wordpress.com/tag/our-delhi-struggle/ -- that is, wordpress's tag directory, and not my site itself.

  5. ^^^ sorry -- I mean, the only relevant result

  6. Google is acting very strange lately, but that's Google issue, not a WordPress issue. My blog, too, has seemingly disappeared from where it used to be in Google. Usually I can type in the title of any post or any phrase from a post and find it in Google. Now, like, with your blog (I just did some spot checks on your blog), I only get sites linking to my blog, particularly from wordpress.com tag pages, Blogcatalog or other directories that have my blog. My blog post itself is somewhere on page 3 or 4 in Google search results, if at all. That happens even to 'high' ranking posts with PR4 or 5, and I don't know what's up with Google (they're probably doing some stuff to their search algorithm), but it's not a WordPress issue. No wonder my traffic is down to a trickle...

    Formatting cleanup applied by Viper007Bond

  7. Oops, forgot to close the 'strong' tag, sorry.

  8. First off Google is going through some massive changes in their search engine stuff and everyone is seeing strangeness.

    @mmmmmjenny, the wordpress tags pages have a google page rank of 6/10. Your blog has a page rank of 3/10. Until you get above 6/10 you are not going to outrank them in search results. But, is someone searches for "it’s official: Our Delhi Struggle will be a book!" then they are going to see the wordpress global tags page and likely click on it and then find your post there on that page.

    Again, google is making changes, so things are going to be a little flakey for a while.

  9. You're post, "it’s official: Our Delhi Struggle will be a book!," is at the top of page 2 in the google search for "it’s official: Our Delhi Struggle will be a book!" at http://www.google.com.sg/search?q=%22it’s+official:+Our+Delhi+Struggle+will+be+a+book!%22&hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&start=10&sa=N

  10. Thesacredpath -- therein lies the problem.

  11. The solution is to blog more, and blog things that are attractive to other bloggers in terms of something they want to link to. Continue to do that and it will pay off.

    Outranking a PR 6 site like a WP.com global tag site is not something that anyone can take for granted. If you just changed your domain name to a unique URL you are going to have to put in some time before you regain your previous Google status. Changing the name BEFORE you got linked to from BoingBoing would have been a smart idea. If you changed it AFTER then, well, that link is always going to go to your old URL and it'll be about four months before Google figures out you're the same blog.

  12. Raincoaster: I switched the domain name back in February.

  13. Well, then all I can say is yes, Google is rewriting their whole way of doing things and in the meantime everyone is getting batted around. The best thing you can do is linkbait by posting linkable stuff. Technorati is for once less messed up than Google, so check yourself there.

  14. It's page rank. Your blog is 3/10, and wordpress is 6/10. If the wordpress tags pages were not there, your blog would still be on page 2 most likely, or at the very least at the bottom of page 1.

    One other thing I would suggest is thinking a little more about choosing tags. Your tags are very broad and general and it makes it harder for search engines to figure out where to place you.

    As an example on your post, "autorickshaws in Delhi: some practical advice" I would probably have used these tags: autorickshaws in Delhi, autorickshaw fares, swindled in Delhi, our Delhi struggle. These are more descriptive and will end up getting you placed higher in searches. Another post with tag problems in my opinion is the one about the woman coming to your flat every morning and yelling at you. Do you really want that post associated in the search engines with garbage and rubbish?

    It's important to give the search engines all the help you can to properly place your posts.

    Also, search engines treat categories just like tags so I would suggest changing your "1" category to something more descriptive. The search engines simply will not know what to do with a category/tag of "1". Same goes for your category of "pics."

  15. 'If the wordpress tags pages were not there...'

    That begs the question: If I ask WordPress to mark my PR5 blog as mature (although it is not, but which means it will not show up in the global tags), would that improve the ranking in Google searches (as in making it appear higher than the global tags, which seems to be part of the issue here)?

  16. Not necessarily. If others are using the same tags, then the tags pages will still likely outrank you. The other thing is that for many, the global tags pages end up bringing them quite a bit of traffic either through actual searches on the tags pages, or from search engine searches that lead people to the tags pages and then to your posts.

  17. Holy crap no, it'll throw you off a cliff.

    Let me explain why WP.COM sites routinely outrank other sites in SEO terms, including independent WP. It is in large part because of those tag pages.

    Search engines look at pages and assign them importance based on the number of links coming in to them; if a page has one link to it, it's of low importance; if it has a thousand, it's very high. And a link to your blog from an important page counts way more than a link from an unimportant page.

    Every WP.com tag page looks to search engines like a hugely important page, because everyone on WP.com using that tag links to that page. That's true even if you're "Matured." You still link to that page. Now, those pages ALSO link back to your blog, unless you're "Matured." So those links, from those very important pages, help raise your blog in the eyes of search engines far above where it would otherwise be.

    If you are Mature, you contribute to the importance of the tag pages, but you get none of the juice from them.

    So, you dont get WP.com's secret special boost, but you are otherwise equal to all other blogs in the eyes of search engines. In other words, you're on a par with Blogspot and independent WP, but ahead of Tumblr.

  18. This post by Lorelle is also a good reference on "putting some thought into blog categories and tags."

    http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2006/03/07/putting-some-thought-into-blog-categories-and-tags/

  19. Thanks, raincoaster and thesacredpath, for clearing that up. I was just wondering, since 'only' being on the tag pages now has diminished my traffic by 80% compared to before, but since Google currently seems to be doing some update, it should return to 'normal' anytime soon, I hope.

  20. thesacredpath -- thanks for the great tip on tags and categories. Obviously we never gave them much thought.

    It still doesn't address the main issue of ensuring my site is #1 for the relevant search results. For instance, as you pointed out, searching the phrase "it’s official: Our Delhi Struggle will be a book!" returns my site on PAGE 2 -- even though there's no page on the internet more relevant to this phrase than my site.

  21. That is Google. Google is a strange and mysterious thing that I don't think even they understand. You would not believe the search terms that have brought people to my site - phrases that have absolutely nothing to do with anything I've ever written.

    The tags/categories names also play a big role too. If you use broad, general tags, you are going to be competing with bunches of people and many of those people might have higher page rank which means you are going to be down the list a ways.

  22. Permit me to post a dissenting opinion here about the importance of tags. I almost never use them (I tried it a few times and didn't notice any effect on traffic), yet the first time I got a Google pagerank I was a 5. Since then my traffic has doubled, but now my pagerank is down to 4, so that's a bit of a mystery.

    Nevertheless, I still place very well on Google searches. For example, a web search (not a blog search) on "Palen creationist" -- without the quotes -- which was a hot topic during the election, still gets over 100,000 Google hits, and one of my posts is 3d on the list. In a blog search on the same thing there are over 700,000 hits, but there I don't show up until the third page, which is still a respectable showing. Difficult to understand, isn't it? Somehow Google treats me well, and I don't think I've ever used a "Palin" tag.

    I know I'm disagreeing with some well-informed people here, but I think tags are very much over-rated. In my experience it all depends on titles and content. And also Google's quirks, which are beyond human understanding.

  23. @sensuous, I don't disagree at all. I don't use tags either, only a few relevant Categories, and I use those mainly for in-blog organizational reasons.

    IF you are going to use tags though, then the search engines are going to use those in their process of placing your posts, and it then becomes important to make sure they are relevant and not overly broad in scope.

  24. What about the fact that this canned wordpress.com theme that I use puts the post title in H2 tags? Is that making enough of a difference that I should considering moving onto a self-hosted setup so I can edit the HTML and PHP?

  25. All themes I've ever looked at - here or self-hosted - use h2 as post title. You're grasping at invisible straws here. Editing the HTML and PHP will not help either especially if you are talking about adding meta keywords/tag. They have been so abused that search engines pay virtually no attention to them anymore.

    I have a friend who spent $500 having someone go through and modify their blog and do all of the so called SEO tricks with the promise that it would increase their traffic, raise their page rank and place them higher in searches. Before they did that, the blog had a page rank of 4 and was averaging 500 hits per day. Now a year later it still has a page rank of 4 and is still getting 500 hits per day. Anytime that someone figures out a way to "game" the search engines, they adjust their algorithms to compensate for the gaming and everyone goes back to a more or less level playing field.

    As far as SEO, wordpress.COM is at or near the top. Everything they do is "right" and gives you the best advantage right out of the box.

  26. "...Google is rewriting their whole way of doing things..."

    I think this is what you're referring to:

    ...everybody who does a search will end up with different search results based on their prior search history. Personalization is going to be "web-wide" using third party cookies and things.

    "We can't search for any term and look at rankings because I can get different results than you for exactly the same query. So that's going to change a lot," he says.

    According to Bruce, this is all going to really help Google fight spammers. He says it will affect the way scrapers and spammers work, because if they are just scraping text, they wouldn't be able to rank.

    He also says that all of the variables that come into play may diminish the value of linking, which will certainly not help the spammers' cause either. He says it will be a big win for Google, and big win for the searchers.

    There's no question that if everything Bruce talked about comes true, the SEO world will be turned on its ear. Bruce says, "If you're not ready for it as an SEO, you're gonna lose."

    http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2008/11/17/seo-about-to-get-turned-on-its-ear

  27. That would be it, and thanks for posting that and the link.

  28. It's more than just that; that has been an annoyance for quite some time now. I for one LIKE seeing things I'm not expecting when I search; essentially Google is making each of our worlds smaller and more isolated. I've been looking for a way to turn that OFF when searching.

  29. @rain, did you look under preferences? http://www.google.com/preferences?hl=en

  30. Thanks!

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