The Secret Blogger: Google Can Go To Hell!

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Google can go to hell

Today the Foodies’ Secret Blogger tells us what they think of Google.

Google can go to hell

In the fifteenth century people worried about being excommunicated by the pope. Today I’m wary of publishing the sentence “Google can go to hell” in case some virtual lightening bolt banishes me from cyberspace. Here’s why.

Reason one: They just shafted my blog’s search results.

Until recently, my blog enjoyed a sizeable whack of page views via Google referrals on a handful of posts alone. However since March 2013, Google’s latest “Panda” algorithm update effectively hid these posts from people who might be looking for them.

Fewer spammy sites show up in search results nowadays – we have previous algorithm updates to thank for this. Yet even though (I hope) I’m not rolling out duplicate drivel, my blog was definitely mauled by the latest Panda update.

Days after, page views for hero posts nosedived. Keywords previously on the first page of search results regressed to the third page. Keywords previously on pages two or three were buried deeper. Numerous bloggers have admitted to me they’ve had similar experiences this spring.

These sound like a page rank penalties. Reduced visibility on Google is why I hadn’t been selling follow links to SEO agencies. Yet my page rank remains unchanged.

My theory is, since the Panda update, exact match search results are being overlooked in favour of content that’s been +1’ed or shared on Google Plus.

I once attended a talk from a top US blogger. “Google does not play fair,” she said. Hell, I might have spent three years making £500 a month selling follow links.

Reason two: They blocked access to my AdSense account

With spooky proximity to a dizzy cartwheel inducing Pinterest traffic spike, Google suspended my Google AdSense account due to “invalid activity”.

I hadn’t knowingly done anything different apart from getting a ton of traffic (and subsequent ad clicks) from Pinterest that week. It’s an uncanny coincidence.

Google give you one shot to appeal against AdSense suspensions. If they don’t overturn their decision you’re out in the cold. Without optimism, I appealed.

Reason three: They said what I have to call myself

Three edicts from Google and I’m really starting to feel under the microscope. An auto-generated email arrives, the gist of which was: “We’ve noticed you’re not using your real name as your Google Plus name. Unless you change it to your real name within four days, we’re going to block your access to Google products (except Gmail) with immediate effect.”

If I can prove I’ve genuinely changed my name to the name of my blog they will accept this but otherwise I am ordered to identify myself using my “real” name instead of “promoting a business”. What if I blogged under a pseudonym? I obediently edited the username – losing access to Google products was too inconvenient to argue with.

Reason four: They’re shutting down Google Reader

The first three reasons are mere trifles against this horror. I’d have paid good money to keep my Google Reader account but they’re not even offering me this has an option. The sods.

Conclusion

My Google Plus account didn’t get shut down. Google did let me back into AdSense. Search engine referrals remain at floor level.

Right now I have two choices:

  1. Plough my social media energies into Google Plus and hope traffic referrals eventually recover.
  2. Sell follow links in posts because hey, I’m already virtually invisible in search results, how much worse would it be if I lost that precious page rank?

One action is passive, offering uncertainty of improvement over a long period but keeps one’s Google driving license “clean”. The second action feels like taking the risk of speeding tickets but offers hard cash immediately with vague chance of a fairly meaningless punishment down the line i.e. not being found by a search engine that doesn’t show you in its results so much these days anyway.

What would you do?

With thanks to our secret blogger.  If you would like to rant, rave, beef or get something off your chest please contact us via the contact form, or e-mail Sally (Sally at fleaenterprises.com)  or Helen (Helen at fleaenterprises.com) all submissions will be treated in strictest confidence.

Sally is the publisher of Foodies100, the UK's largest directory of brilliant UK food and drink blogs and bloggers. Every day of the week, we promote the UK's best and most exciting blogs about food and drink.

Discussion16 Comments

  1. interesting… something definitely has been going on this year on my website / blogs as my traffic has changed dramatically… now wondering if I am being seriously penalised… will you be at Britmums? Would love to at last meet you and catch up! Let me know or tweet me @lunchboxworld x

  2. I had a massive drop in page views over March as well and although I was posting less it didn’t make sense that they would drop so radically, especially as I was still gaining followers. This seems to answer the question. Google has definitely had something to do with it.

  3. I did read on one of the tech sites(may have been Mashable) about how Google were changing the algorithm with ‘Panda’. Apparently the selling the follow links will make less of a difference than it has in the past, if I can remember rightly.

    My experience has been that it can take 2-3 days to appear on the front page of google with a new post using the keyword I use for each post.

    The plugin I use on WP is brilliant, you don’t have to be overly tech/SEO savvy to use it, & it tells you where & how to improve your post for better results. If you use WP.org I can’t recommend the WordPress SEO plugin by Joost enough, & it’s free

    • The 2-3 day lag makes sense, as it takes that long for me to get a Google alert of my new posts.

      I use Joost too, but am not sure if it actually makes any difference, I switched from All in One when I had my site redesigned.

  4. The Google Plus thing really annoys me. I can’t join because of the “real name’ issue BUT my real name on the internet is Choclette – bah!

    • Exactly, you cannot be anonymous and be ranked anymore it seems. I am trying to use other search engines more, but always default to Google. Like many people I say “Google it” not “search on the internet”

    • Could it be then that google is trying to force people into using google plus, jealous of facebooks market share the only way they can get users is by bullying them. ‘If you don’t use google plus were going to wipe you from our search results’

  5. Ha! You posted that around the date the Snowden/Prism story broke. It may be small consolation at the moment but an awful lot of people are avoiding Google as much as they can now.

  6. Reading this has finally made me twig why my stats took a nosedive in april and may versus march, before that they were steadily climbing each and every month 🙁 Off to google + my posts I guess!

  7. My traffic went from around 200 hits a day down to about 30 because of google. It took me a good few days to understand what had happened, as it turned out – at least I think this was one of the causes, is that I had put certain recipes into 2 categories to make it easier to find certain recipes. I have since correct that and have since a slight increase again. I’m not so worried now because I’m still fairly new to the scene, not even 2 years. I am however glad I’m not blogging for a living like some people are. Otherwise it would be completely destructive.

    Google can’t actually seem to determine good from bad at all, otherwise they wouldn’t have done it to us. I’m a genuine blogger, always have been, never content scraped, replicated or spammed, yet I’m being vilified.

    My only lesson from this is yes I will continue to appease googles nonsense approach to search because they have such power, but I will also be diversifying my traffic completely. I don’t want to have to rely on any particular source at all, because in the future If I do manage to make a living, that is a scary thought that some search engine has control wether you make any money to eat and live. And I’m quite partial to both!

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