You know, I’m not sure what else to title this post. I had a clever name for it which was "A Tale Of Two Search Engines". But I felt like that just didn’t really embody what I needed out of this post. Because what I really need out of this post is help. Help from all of you.
I’ve had such a wonderful time working on my blog over the past two and a half years. I feel as if I have been really successful, but I’ve had just one problem…Google just doesn’t seem to like me. Since starting my blog, I have never seen any increase in search traffic from Google aside from the occasional spike. I’ve complained about this on Twitter before, and I’ve put effort into trying to figure out what the problem is, but I’ve come to the realization that I need your help. I am sincerely asking for any help that anyone can provide. Google controls a significant portion of the internet’s traffic, and if they don’t like you, well then your site is in trouble.
I’m honestly upset just writing about this. I felt for a very long time that maybe what I blogged about just wasn’t very interesting, or maybe I didn’t hit the right keywords, but lately I’ve come across even more information suggesting that something is very very wrong. It all started the other day when I went to Google and searched for the phase "TekPub LINQ Challenge". While I expected to get my post back in first place, I didn’t see it anywhere. I clicked through and eventually found it several pages down. Talk about infuriating! I started asking around, and some people were seeing it in first place, while others were seeing it many pages down. Why? Who knows. What I do know is that numerous posts linking to my page were at the top of the results, but not my post. This post was still pretty new, so I figured there could be other issues, but it got me looking at my Google search rankings again.
Looking At A Few Examples
So, I went and looked at a few of my recent popular posts…. one of which was "The Static Spider Web Pattern". So what do I find? My site is nowhere. Where does it show up on Bing and Yahoo? First on Yahoo, second on Bing.
Next I went and searched for "LINQ SelectMany" which I wrote a post on a bit ago. On Yahoo, in second place. On Bing, in second place. Where am I on Google? I don’t know, I stopped looking after the fifth page.
I went and search for "The blurring lines of languages". On Yahoo? First. On Bing? First. On Google? Again, I stopped looking after about the 6th page.
When I search for "Using Accessibility On Auto Properties" I get number 1 again on Bing and Yahoo, but nowhere on the first page in Google. On Bing and Yahoo I actually am on the first page for the term "Accessibility Modifier"! On Google I can’t even fathom how far down my site would be.
And this kind of thing can be repeated over and over and over. If I put quotes around some of the searches above I might get one of my pages in the top 5 results. But for the most part it just seems like both Bing and Yahoo rank my site very well, but Google just absolutely hates it.
I’ve also talked with others who have similarly popular blogs, and my site receives only a fraction of the search traffic that they get. On top of that, my Google search traffic has never really increased. It has been relatively steady for the past two years (basically a few months after I started blogging). It is constantly fluctuating up and down, whereas most of the people I have talked to have a regular saw-tooth pattern to their search traffic. Check out my search traffic for the last two years:
It is all over the place. I have yet to talk to someone who sees search traffic like this. Also, during the spikes, there aren’t any keywords that rise to the top, it is actually seems spread pretty evenly across the board. Google sends about the same amount of traffic to my site as they did 3 months after I started blogging.
Some people I have talked to suggest that sites like DZone, which have syndicated my content are penalizing me because it looks like I am duplicating content from other sites. But Bing and Yahoo don’t seem to have any problems with them. I have had suggestions ranging from html validation, to getting rid of a negative indent on a specific element, removing "CodeThinked" from the title tags, setting the rel canonical tag, etc… I’ve taken suggestions from people and I’ve tried to implement as much as I can.
I’ve gone and asked questions in the Google Webmaster forums, but I haven’t received any good help or suggestions. At this point, I am at a loss. You see, the problem is that search engines are just black boxes, and the little bit of help that is provided by something like Google Webmaster Tools, Yahoo Site Explorer, or Bing webmaster tools just doesn’t seem to help out much. I’ve gone on there, and gone through the suggestions, and done all of the things that I think I am supposed to do, but nothing seems to help. I know that they can’t give out their secret sauce, but how am I supposed to figure out what is going on?
What Is Going On?
So what is happening? You know, I really wish I knew. I wish I had even the slightest clue. Maybe it is as simple as saying that Yahoo and Bing use algorithms that are so different that my site in Google just really doesn’t have much weight. I find that hard to believe though, looking at some of the sites that show up above mine in searches. If I could find out what was happening, I’d get it fixed in a second.
So, how would I even know if my site is being penalized? I’ve gone through the Google webmaster guidelines, and as far as I can tell, I’m not violating any of them. I’ve made a few tweaks to my site, just in case I am doing something wrong. For example, I had my logo with "CodeThinked" in the anchor tag, and a negative indent so that I could show a logo there. This seems like a fairly common technique, but I removed it just in case Google saw it as hidden text. I’ve also gone through and removed broken links and tried to make my html completely valid.
So, I am asking for your help. I’m asking for any help that anyone can give me. How can I figure out what is wrong? I feel as if I am just giving away a huge amount of traffic, and with the amount of time and sweat that I have poured into this site, it is really heart breaking. Up until now I have avoided complaining on my blog about this, but I feel like it is finally time to leverage the traffic that I do receive in order to see if I can figure this one out. Thanks in advance!