Thursday, May 05, 2005

Google hates me

I recently ego-googled this blog, and the results were sad. For a while, Google indexed this site, but then it stopped. Now the big G lists only the main page — no archive pages, no individual posts, no keyword search results at all. Google doesn't love me anymore.

I've done lots of things I shouldn't. Staying out drinking, ignoring her birthday, even spending time with other girls — Google doesn't care about little things like that. But I've done other things, bad things that Google does care about. Without even trying, I've managed to hurt G's feelings in many ways. Partly, I was slow in getting started. But many of my sins are things that are done by spammers, SEO-incompetents, link farms, and worse (see Vaughn's "Google Ranking Factors").

So it turns out I've been conducting an inadvertent clinic on driving away search engines. Learn from my tale of woe.

How to make Google hate you without really trying

Don't update. Have a static page that just sits there. I started with a couple of posts, then nothing for months.

Update infrequently. The next best thing. My improved rate of every five days was pretty lame, too.

Make it boring. My readers — both of them, he exaggerated — will agree.

Don't have many incoming links. Follow the first three rules and other sites will find it easier to ignore you. And you will be less authoritative in Google's eyes.

Have lots and lots of outgoing links. (Google actually warns against this). Too many links can make you look like a link farm, especially if the links are uncategorized. An extremely low ratio of inward/outward links can slam your page rank.

Write about spammy or sleazy subjects. Posts about cellphones, payday lenders, and penguin lust are culprits here. What probably didn't help: this was the first site to use the phrase "Jar Jar slash Dobby." I may deserve to suffer for the bad dreams that causes.

Write about unrelated spammy subjects. This looks like old-school link farming, which tried to include every popular keyword (today's link farmers are more focused). Definitely a bad idea: consecutive posts on phones, loans, and penguin moans.

Write stuff that looks weird and spammy. It may have been unwise to intersperse a Supreme Court prediction with Motown lyrics, no matter how relevant. And Babel-fishing produces text that looks even more like carelessly-written, mechanically-translated spam.

Do something that looks actively hostile. Unicode characters in a title could indicate an IDN exploit. So a sweet little post called "We ♡ copyeditors" might resemble a wicked hack attack.

What can I do to be worthy of Google's love?

Change that title to "We (heart) copyeditors."

Write more.

Categorize the blogroll, Real Soon Now.

Get more links by asking for them — I'll start with you, behind the keyboard.

Wait a bit before writing the definitive "enlarging your mortgage" essay.

O Google, will you ever love me again?


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