This post was migrated from Justin’s personal blog, 'Codethinked.com.' Views, opinions, and colorful expressions should be taken in context, and do not necessarily represent those of Simple Thread (and were written under the influence of dangerous levels of caffeination).

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:

image

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.

Getting Help

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 used "bad neighborhood" link detectors, which are supposed to check and see if you’re accidentally linking out to bad sites. I’ve used the IIS7 SEO toolkit which had some very good suggestions, but my site actually does really good. I’ve moved a bunch of my css/javascript into a CDN to help my pages download faster. I’ve removed certain parts of my sites from search engines using the robots.txt file so that my monthly, archive, search, etc… pages don’t get indexed. I’ve just don’t TONS of different things.

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.

Please Help

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!

69 Comments

Chris Hardy

You don’t have a meta description tag. This is normally what Google shows underneath the title of a page and is heavily used when searching Google. Try adding in different meta descriptions for your different pages. I think this is the main problem actually since your site is *in* Google, just not easy to find.

Hope this helps.
ChrisNTR

Reply
Maggie Longshore

I don’t have any advice but the following searches show your blog first on google:

being smart does not a good developer make

cost of cleverness don’t be clever

When I tried your post titles with programming specific words your post did not show up but most of the top results were links to your blog.

Reply
Justin Etheredge

@Chris I appreciate your help, but these are the kinds of suggestions that I fail to see how they would greatly affect the ranking of my blog. In fact, Google has said explicitly that meta descriptions do not affect page rank. From the Google Webmaster’s Blog: "And it’s worth noting that while accurate meta descriptions can improve clickthrough, they won’t affect your ranking within search results."

Besides, many of the blogs that I mentioned which ranked above mine in the above searches, also run on BlogEngine.net, which does not produce a meta description by default.

@Jake Thanks, but websitegrader gave my site a 99.5! So apparently I am doing pretty good according to them. Google just doesn’t agree. πŸ™‚

Reply
Justin Etheredge

@Maggie Thanks for the info! See, this is more of the weirdness that I am seeing. The first query returned my blog in first place, but the second query didn’t return my blog at all. Even when I was signed out and turned my web history off. The top search results were links to my blog though.

This is the kind of stuff that makes me think that something really weird is happening. And also the kind of thing that I am completely lost on how to figure out what that thing is. Or how to address it.

Reply
Quooston

Super interesting, can’t wait to find out what it is. I hate to say, but your pain is a fantastic gain for someone on the fence who wants to learn.

Please continue to share your findings.

Good luck!

Reply
Gene

Just a few thoughts/comments:

Although in the past page load time did not impact ranking, according to Matt Cutts it is something likely to be coming in 2010.

Running this page through YSlow, it comes up with an F ranking, with too many HTTP requests (25 external javascript files, 6 stylesheets, 11 background images) being the primary culprit. On an empty cache it took 5.6 seconds to load.

Looking at your site in Google’s index, the lack of meta descriptions may be more negative than you think. It will certainly reduce clicks when results come up. I haven’t seen a definitive answer (which doesn’t mean there isn’t one) on whether poor click response will penalize your page rank, but it certainly impacts rankings on paid traffic; I wouldn’t be surprised it was also true with organic.

The H1 tag on your page is:
<h1><a href="../../../../" id="ctl00_A4"><img src="http://dx7tw0ckw5qzr.cloudfront.net/images/logo.png&quot; alt="CodeThinked by Justin Etheredge" /> </a></h1>

and you have an H2:
<h2>
<a href="/post/2010/01/17/What-Is-Wrong-With-My-Blog.aspx">
What Is Wrong With My Blog?
</a>
</h2>

While you see this pattern (the .NET MVC default template uses it for example), most sites render the H1 as the primary unique title for the page, not the site name/logo.

Reply
Dave Ward

Every time we chat about this, I view-source on a few of your pages to look for anything egregiously wrong. I think there’s room for a bit of marginal improvement, but nothing that would explain other sites ranking better for your own content and/or coined phrases.

It must either be a penalty for something like asking for specific links on that contest (John Chow made that taboo) or a penalty for duplicate content that’s being wrongly applied to you instead of DZone.

Hope it gets straightened out. I hate seeing your good content being buried.

Reply
Andrey Titov

Probably almost everyone who find you with Google immediately subscribes to RSS and doesn’t need to google your posts anymore and even visit your blog at all (unless they want to post a comment).

At least it is what I usually do: if I find relevant and interesting answer to my question to Google in someone’s new blog, I quick look on other posts in this blog and if they also are interesting for me I add this blog to Google Reader. I don’t return to this blog site for a long time reading it thought Google Reader. Sometimes I wonder how awful is the original design of the site and how much pretty it looks in Google Reader. I hate people who don’t provide full post’s content in RSS. There is no any good reason to crop text in RSS. If they want me to see advertisement in they site, then it’s much more convenient to add single banner at the end of the post in RSS.

The last two isn’t about you. My point is only that how content is looking in RSS is more important than how it looks on site itself for people like me, and count of RSS subscriptions may be more important than count of site visitors.

Reply
David Pratt

Here are some ideas, hope they help:

* The author link immediately under the post title: http://www.codethinked.com/author/Justin%20Etheredge.aspx is basically the same as the homepage. Either make it plain text, or link it to your about page.
* You don’t appear to have a Google XML sitemap in the default location:
http://www.codethinked.com/sitemap.xml
* href="../../../../" is generally not recommended. Try to use full absolute paths, or relative paths from the domain root.
* The 2 links in your footer don’t have proper href’s set.

Reply
Simone

From my experience Google should look at these 3 elements:
– url
– page title
– Headers (mainly H1)

I linked a few resources that you might find useful on a blog I wrote one year and a few months ago:
http://codeclimber.net.nz/archive/2008/11/14/seo-starting-guide-for-asp.net.aspx

I also suggest you add a sitemap (if you already don’t have one) and that you register for the webmaster tools on Google and see if there is ban or something about your blog.

Another thing I see is that you don’t have a text in the H1… for SEO purposes you had better add something, and use some image replacement technique to replace it with an image. Have a look at this:
http://css-tricks.com/css-image-replacement/

I used this html code:
<h1 id="Hp"><a id="HeaderTitle" title="The Title Of This Blog." href="/Default.aspx">CodeClimber</a></h1>

h1#Hp {
background:transparent url(images/header-logo.jpg) no-repeat scroll 0 0;
height:180px;
margin:0;
text-indent:-6000px;
width:604px;
}
what it basically does is moving the text off the screen and shows the background instead.

I think that the fact that you don’t have an H1 might be a problem.
Or you should even consider using H1 as title of the post instead of the title of the blog. (I’m considering it myself for my blog).

HTH
Simone

Reply
Justin Etheredge

@Gene Yep, I agree that I need to streamline my pages and reduce the weight. I am looking into that now. I am also looking at changing my blog post titles over to H1’s and dropping it from the logo. But again, I think that this is a relatively minor change.

Reply
Justin Etheredge

@Dave I think you are more sympathetic to my plight since we have talked about this so many times πŸ™‚ I think that most people just think it is a simple SEO issue, and so did I about a year ago. Now I am just not so sure anymore.

Reply
Justin Etheredge

@Andrey That is true, but I am just giving away both traffic and subscribers. If Google was sending traffic to my site, then I likely have more subscribers. Besides, I don’t want 12 billion people on my site, I just want a fair ranking.

@David Thanks for the ideas!

@Simone Yep, I’m going to look at switching out to an H1 tag. But I moved away from using the negative indent to hide the sitename, since I am trying to remove anything that violates the Google terms (hidden text).

Reply
Michael C. Neel

No need to guess, Google will tell you – setup your site on http://www.google.com/webmasters/ – this will tell you what Google sees and how google sees it.

Also, there is a .Net framework bug that has appeared on and off again that can cause your site to 500 error when a bot tries to spider it. Since Bing and Yahoo can see your site I think it’s probably not in play, but can’t hurt to check. I’ve written about this in the past http://www.vinull.com/Post/2008/10/11/google-can-you-hear-me.aspx You can test this with Fiddler or using the Webmaster tools "Fetch as GoogleBot".

I would recommend also checking into the sitemap protocol (http://sitemaps.org) and adding canonical link tags (http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/02/specify-your-canonical.html) to your site to provide Google better hints at how the site should be indexed.

Reply
Nick Berardi

Hi Justin,

One thing that I noticed is really odd about your site. Is that the article lines goes on forever. While I don’t think that is causing the problem, it is very atypical, and who knows what kind of parser Google uses.

Second your domain has a PR of 4, which is about average for bloggers like you. It is very rare for a blogger to get a 6 like codinghorror.com.

Third, make sure to fix up all the errors listed in Google Webmaster Tools.

http://google.com/webmasters/tools

Fourth, your robots.txt seems very restrictive to the web bots and specifically calls out Googlebot twice. Once for * and once as Googlebot. Try removing that stuff. Just in case.

Try moving as much of your content to the bottom of the page, such as all your JavaScript files. The Googlebot understands JavaScript now, so if it is in your header it downloads all those before getting to your content.

Run Y! Slow and follow most of the directions.

http://developer.yahoo.com/yslow/

Also if you have a lot of posts, you may consider gziping your sitemap so that it takes Google a lot less time to download.

You are on a dedicated server, so that is good, because it limits the amount of others sites that may be on the same IP. Ideally you want 1 site per IP.

Last, your domain is not that old, and you seem to be only registering it in 2 year increments. Show some commitment to the Googlebot by registering your domain for 5 years in the future.

Nick

Reply
Dave Ward

If all else fails, I’ve got a few thousand emails from people (read: bots) who have kindly promised to "get my page on the first page of Google."

Reply
Paul

[b]This:[/b]
<h1>
<a href="../../../../" id="ctl00_A4">
<img src="http://dx7tw0ckw5qzr.cloudfront.net/images/logo.png&quot; alt="CodeThinked by Justin Etheredge" />
</a>
</h1>

[b]Should really be:[/b]
<a href="[b]http://www.codethinked.com[/b]" id="ctl00_A4">
<img src="http://dx7tw0ckw5qzr.cloudfront.net/images/logo.png&quot; alt="CodeThinked by Justin Etheredge" />
</a>

The H1 is "supposed" to be your main on-page header/title, so it’s probably a good idea to have it "reflect" (‘though not necessarily duplicate) your head/title element / primary page subject/KW’s.

<title>What Is Wrong With My Blog – codethinked.com</title>
<h1><a href="/post/2010/01/17/What-Is-Wrong-With-My-Blog.aspx">What Is Wrong With My Blog?</a></h1>

Lower your HTTP requests and add in some description tags. Also, there are ways to move the JavaScript generated by ASP.NET to the bottom of the page, would also do that. Then give google 3 or 4 weeks to make some positioning changes and see how you do.

Reply
Paul

I would also consider removing the Archives by Year/Month on your right nav and move up the category links. Increase your "Top Posts" to 15 and add a section called "Latest Posts" with the 15 most recent posts.

On your Category pages I would limit each post to a 500 character preview with 10-15 posts per page (add paging or Facebook style lazy loading W/ JQuery)

Also, on each post page list 5 links directly below the post content to "Related" articles in the same category.

Reply
Paul

No problem, hope it helps. BTW – GREAT job on the first LINQ video, cannot wait for the rest of the series!

Reply
Paul

[i]Increase your "Top Posts" to 15 and add a section called "Latest Posts" with the 15 most recent posts. [/i]

Second thought, 8 links for each would keep your link count where you want it to be.

Reply
ResidentDumbo

Meta-description tags…OMG. Seriously?? NO, that won’t help. I was at a loss too until you mentioned you syndicated your content. You can play around with on-page factors all you want, but so long as the SAME content shows up on a higher authority site (which I take DZone and others are), Google will filter your content out of its index. So you need to consider the tradeoffs: pro/con, of syndicating versus the SEO value of having original content. The only other thing I’d add is the Web is not Costner’s Field of Dreams; if you simply build it, people won’t come. Unique content is part of the equation, but there’s more. If you see – http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com – you’ll notice you only have 30 backlinks. That is a major part of the problem. If you want traffic, you can’t wish for it- you need to go out there and have a link-building strategy. That should include building links from relevant, authority sites; you can do link exchange (within reason) with fellow bloggers, you can use social marking (ie: Digg), you can submit on Blog directories like Blog Catalog, the list goes on and on. Doing something/anything is better than nothing so long as its white-hat. So personally I think it comes down to resolving the syndication issue and implementing a backlink strategy.

Reply
Justin Etheredge

@ResidentDumbo How did you get from Yahoo Site Explorer that I only have 30 backlinks? When I go there and punch in my domain, it shows that I have over 9100 backlinks. Maybe I’m missing something? As far as having DZone and other sites syndicate my content, well, I guess Bing is just way better at determining the original source than Google is. Because in Bing all of my pages rank wonderfully! Thanks for all of the info.

@Calvin Thanks for the link, I’ll check it out.

Reply
Justin Etheredge

@Kyle Here is the thing… I don’t get very much search traffic at all. I get the same search traffic now that I got 3 months after I started my blog. That isn’t normal. And I’m not entirely sure how I can "read too much into" that.

You would think that a site which is producing good content would enjoy a higher level of search traffic over time. From the few people I have talked to, this is the case. Not so for my site.

And yes, I do get a good amount of traffic, and almost all of it comes through sites like reddit, dotnetkicks, dzone, etc… I get less than 10% of my traffic from search. What percentage of your traffic comes from search?

Reply
Peter

As someone who doesn’t have to worry about traffic on his blog because there isn’t any, I’ll just second the suggestion to fix your (text)empty H1 tag and wait a week. Also the dzone crossposting can’t be helping.

Reply
Kyle Baley

Justin,

No idea how much traffic I get at all, let alone from search. Stats haven’t been working for some time now. I don’t really worry too much. If people hit me from a search engine, they’re trying to solve a specific problem. And if that’s the case, I just assume that if they aren’t hitting my site, they’re getting their problem solved somewhere else.

Reply
Justin Etheredge

@Sameer Thanks for the suggestion, but I do have a sitemap file. It just isn’t at the default location. The location is registered with google via my robots.txt file, and they are seeing it. Thanks!

@Kyle I gotcha, I guess I just feel like it is much harder for me to help people (and I want traffic!) if they can’t find my blog. The problem with my blog is that even with very specific searches, you still can’t find it. So I am not really helping anyone.

Reply
Anthony

I just checked the stats of my blog and found that 67.34% over past 12 months came from Google alone. So, there is definitely something(s) amiss.

Reply
ryan

Unfortunately your choice of platform adds bulk to your HTML and it also causes google to have to work harder.

A couple of tips:
– Move your title tag to the top just under head, you have a bunch of script there and a quick pull of your site the spider has to work harder.
– Change your urls, remove the .aspx (try IIRF) and make sure you use ALL LOWERCASE. Google likes lower case and ‘-‘ separating words. If you have caps it actually goes into another queue that is delayed because it has to index on lowercase and upper.

‘What-Is-Wrong-With-My-Blog.aspx’ should be what-is-‘wrong-with-my-blog’ also with IIRF you can remove the ‘/post’ from your url.

– You have lots of extraneous HTML that makes it harder to get a higher hit for content in your site. Extraneous <br> tags, the cruft that is .NET at the bottom. Google searches your content and if there is more cruft it will not put as high an emphasis on your actual content.

– A meta description won’t help much but it will help to up the impact of the actual content over the cruft. So adding one will help re-enforce your main content. That is really all Google cares about.

– Take a look at a wordpress site, they have been so successful because their output works great with Google’s spider. Or look at another non wordpress site that does it well like codinghorror.com. When yo view source see how much content you see.

HTH

Reply
Justin Etheredge

@ryan I appreciate the tips, I honestly do. And they are solid SEO tips. But I think you might be misunderstanding the magnitude of the problem. This isn’t a tiny little SEO issue that is causing my site a few hiccups. This is huge. Google basically sends me zero traffic. It is as if my site has such low rankings that it doesn’t show up anywhere in the results, even when I search for the exact titles of my posts. This is not simply a matter of a few bad tags or some extra html.

Reply
ryan

@Justin

If it isn’t the platform a test will solve it. Take 2-3 articles from your site and post them in a clean url setup on wordpress. See if those show up in a week or two (make sure to use a sitemap.xml as google expects) and see which one shows up. I think you are underestimating what bad HTML and bad url formatting can do to your results. I have never had success with a .net based blog platform and have developed .net for some time. Anytime we need a blog we use wordpress mainly. They almost have a backdoor at google and the auto pinger really does work wonders. .net is just not good for SEO and blogger type sites. Even the .net hero Jeff Atwood uses another platform.

Also take a look at stackoverflow… You will note is is using the MVC or a custom handler so that the .NET ASP.NET WebForms cruft is gone. That has a massive impact like it or not.

I run some decent sized blogs, drawlogic.com being one of them. And about 75% of my traffic comes from Google, AFTER I moved to wordpress which does most of this by default…

Reply
Anthony

@Ryan, @Justin,

I have an out-of-the-box BlogEngine ASP.NET Web Forms blog – no SEO work done whatsoever and receive between 6,000 and 8,000 unique visitors a month which ain’t bad considering I barely publish a post per month. I’m so tired of hearing this nonsense about Web Forms, not to mention "Wordpress having a back door to Google". Nobody is disputing the importance of good markup which is achievable [i]even with Web Forms[/i].

As Justin pointed out, there is something fundamentally wrong here. His site is being penalized for some unknown reason and is probably stuck in some as-yet-to-be-publicly-acknowledged sandbox.

I would start with the IIS SEO toolkit and eliminate every SEO warning or error it gave me and then resubmit my site and sitemap to Google. I’d also recommend partaking in other Google offerings such as local adwords, etc. Report bogus sites and become part of their machine. This is a case where ass-licking [i]in the correct manner[/i] is justified πŸ˜‰

Reply
Justin Etheredge

@Anthony Ha, thanks! I know others running on asp.net blogs that have very high ranking and tons of visitors as well. If you want to get an idea of how poorly Google ranks my site, well, I get about 20 people a day from Google. Yes, 20. And that is on a weekday. πŸ™‚

Reply
ian

as many people have said you don’t have a description meta-tag, the only keyword you have is ‘help’ — that is NOT very much at all — you need several — preferably different ones for each page,

also, just cause you have a couple hundred links coming into your blog does not mean a thing — you need links that are not nofollowed…. like the comments on your page are not so that will not help you out if those are your only links

try talking to various blogs that you watch and see if anyone wants to trade some links with you;

also I don’t know how your stuff is setup but you need to tell every search engine you can every time you make a new post about it — send them a url to your RSS feed and also make sure your sitemap is up to date

in today’s internet it is not enough to have great information — you MUST be able to find it otherwise it’s useless

hth

Reply
Francis

Have you changed your ip lately?

Looking it up your ip 71.6.217.200 is listed on a blacklist. http://mxtoolbox.com/SuperTool.aspx?action=blacklist:71.6.217.200

It’s not a big one so it probably wont effect outgoing email, but the fact it got flagged (you should go fix that) might mean google will silently ignore it. This normally happens with shared hosts, where a spammy site shares the ip with a legitimate one.

In your case, it’s probably the previous owner that’s to blame.

You have a pagerank of 4 which isn’t bad.

Helpful links
http://ask.metafilter.com/16710/How-to-get-unblacklisted-from-Google

Reply
Mischa

Justin,

You should give your posts titles that you think people will search / are searching for.

Things like meta descriptions and meta keywords make 0 difference, in my experience.

For example, I rank first for "rails authentication" simply because I titled the post with what I knew people would search for.

For example, nobody is searching for "Beginning Mocking With Moq 3 – Part 4" but they might be searching for "moq tutorial" or something.

Reply
Justin Etheredge

@Mischa Thanks for the tips.

@Scott That links doesn’t appear to be working for me. And anyways, when I go into Google webmaster tools I have well over 6000 links. Not sure the quality of all of them, but I don’t know where you are getting 187 from.

Reply
Anthony

Per Mischa, I can personally avow to this and openly admit to creating my title with the audience in mind. Looking back at my results, I can clearly see where I hit the nail on the head and it does make a huge difference overall. Most bloggers I know get this one wrong. First thing I ask myself before hitting the Publish button is how I would search for that info myself.

Reply
Justin Etheredge

@Anthony Mischa While I agree with what you are saying, my problem is much larger. Even if I search for exact titles, I find tons of sites linking to mine, but my site is nowhere to be found. I agree though that titles are important for searchability of posts.

Reply
Scott

@justin, copy the link, your comment system is not properly url encoding links. All I am doing is plain google searches for site:www.codethinked.com and link:www.codethinked.com

or http://tr.im/MRyl

While I understand there is GWT, that shows you everything the site has ever seen, and it is ambiguous at best as to when they put it in parity with their index. Doing a link:domain.example.com google search is about as real world as it is going to get.

Probably the best suggestion I have heard here is to use meta title to title your posts as you believe people will search for them. But that will not get you better index results. It may get more people reading, and in turn, more people linking, and in turn, a better page listing.

Reply
Sameer Alibhai

Hey Justin.. something wierd happened to my blog too. When I changed the theme from QuickPress to Arclite my traffic from google went from 100 a day down to 1 a day! I just noticed now.. I am not 100% sure if this is the reason but I just changed it back to see if the traffic comes back.

Reply
Dave Ward

@Scott: The link:domain.com search isn’t remotely accurate. For example, site:encosia.com suggests that my site only has 204 backlinks, but I’ve received traffic from more separates pages than that [i]today[/i] alone.

Reply
Scott

@Dave,
I think you are missing the point, yes, it is not accurate in how many links, but it is a good metric to tell the quality of link. You rank poorly in google, a link:www.codethinked.com search shows poor numbers, I am saying there is correlation there.

If the top 10 in link: type searches were top tier sites, i am pretty confident that your problems would not exist.

Reply
Dave Ward

@Scott: If that were the problem, how do you explain my site getting over 40,000 visits from Google searches last month and Justin’s getting only a handful?

Both our sites show about the same number of backlinks in a site:domain.com search. It is clearly not a very good measure of anything, relative or absolute.

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charlotte

Agreeing with the very few others here that it is not on page SEO that you should worry about. I would change the H1 tag, but I cannot imagine that that has that much influence. I have much worse sites, with very few backlinks, that rank much, much better than you. Especially when you search for a reasonably unique title of your post, you should be the first result.

I would make a sitemap, make sure your site loads fast enough, and remove the robots.txt for now and see if that helps. It could also be the duplicate content if your entire entries are duplicated on other sites. I read years ago that Google’s duplicate content filter was terrible (see http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Google-Optimization-Help/Duplicate-Content-Penalties-Problems-with-Googles-Filter/ ), but you would think they fixed that by now.

Reply
Stephan Schmidt

I haven’t got the same problem as you, but similar. My blog is 4 years old and Google traffic is increasing very very slowly, while traffic from Yahoo and Bing is non existent ~1% of Google traffic.

What I did try:
– Change domain (set me back in PR but I hope it pays off), buy a domain for several years (wasn’t possible with the old one)
– Remove all cruft from the urls, like "archive", "2010/01/17", "blog", "post", ".html" etc.
– Optimize with YSlow, but WordPress has limits

I think it’s very hard to get beyond a PR of 4, codeinghorror got it by heavy linking from other sites right from the beginning (like Reddit).

I fear duplicate content (DZone), but assume Google is clever enough now to detect duplicate content for ad farming and one for good reasons (also like scientific papers).

Cheers
Stephan
http://codemonkeyism.com

Reply
Justin Etheredge

@Stephan I can feel your pain, and yeah, all of those changes are good suggestions. At this point though, with all of the backlinks that my site has, I don’t really want to switch domains. And if I redirected everything back to my old site, whatever is following me around would probably just come to the new site as well.

And I agree that my PR of 4 is great, and it is hard to get past that. But first, domain PR seems to not be very important, but secondly, I know people with PR4 sites that get *substantially* (I’m talking 30-40 times more) more search traffic than my site does.

Reply
Stephan Schmidt

With >8000 backlinks I wouldn’t switch either. I had a bad feeling even with only a few backlinks. Redircting everything was a pain, and cleaning Googles view of the site was a pain too (duplicate content etc.).

Keep up the good work, especially like your posts with drawings,

Cheers
Stephan

Reply
Justin Etheredge

@Duderino I honestly haven’t checked in a few days to see if any of the tweaks in my site have affected my rankings. I’ll take a look today, hopefully it is a good sign!

@mat thanks, yeah I have stopped the syndication of my posts anywhere that I could.

Reply
Sean O'Donoghue

Hi Justin,

An interesting discussion. As others have mentioned Google WMT is a very useful tool to have in your box. Some really useful on page insights although I think the duplicate content issue is something worth considering.

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