Google is all about doling out authority.
Measuring the number of links coming into your website, it gives you authority on any number of subjects and keywords. So when your website suddenly gets downgraded within its index, it’s effectively taking your authority away. It’s coldly telling you that you’re not the expert that you previously were, that you’ve been toppled from the castle from which you had previously ruled.
As I wrote here previously, I noticed about a week ago that I had been harshly and inexplicably downgraded in Google’s index for several keywords, a move that effectively cut my traffic from the search engine by half. This, of course, upset me, because I had worked very diligently to write quality content –content that has been linked to by thousands of blogs and websites — only to have my authority whisked away in such a short span of time.
Over the next few days, I began exchanging emails with SEO expert and friend Stephen Ward. He determined that Google bots were able to still crawl my website and therefore theorized that I was experiencing something called “Google Dance,” which means that as Google updates its algorithm websites tend to get thrown through a loop. He advised me to sit still and eventually the dust would settle and my posts would rank well once again.
Well, Stephen emailed me today with confirmation that Google has completed a major algorithm change, and that I shouldn’t be surprised if this trend continues for a long time. For whatever reason, Google has likely thrown me into a hole that I will have to somehow slowly crawl out of.
So how harsh was this downgrading that I experienced? As I wrote to Stephen in an email:
For instance, let’s return to my name “Simon Owens.” There is no doubt in my mind that based off the thousands of links that bloggasm has gotten, many with the anchor text of my name, I am the most prominent Simon Owens on the internet, and of my different websites (my livejournal, an old livejournal account, and bloggasm), Bloggasm has seen by far the most links with that anchor text. Why then is it ranked third, when obviously anyone searching my name would most likely be looking for Bloggasm? Why is it ranked behind a livejournal account I haven’t updated regularly since 2005, one that probably hasn’t seen any fresh links in that amount of time? It’s absolutely silly.
Since Bloggasm was first created, I have had my posts linked to by over a dozen of Technorati’s 100 most popular blogs on the internet. I’ve made it onto the front page of both Digg and Reddit. I’ve been interviewed and featured in articles in The Washington Post, ABC News, and several other major news outlets. I’m currently ranked within the top 10,000 on Technorati.
And on top of all this, I produce a good bit of original content. I actually conduct original research and publish feature-length articles — all in my spare time.
But despite all this, despite the fact that I don’t engage in any questionable website practices (selling links, link exchanges, spamming other websites with links), Google has for some reason determined that many of my posts aren’t worthy of a decent ranking.
It’s absolutely maddening when you really think about it. All false modesty aside (and obviously I’m biased on this), Google’s new algorithm change has actually weakened its search results in regard to this website. There is absolutely no excuse for why Bloggasm should come up in third place, behind a livejournal that hasn’t been updated or linked to in years, when you Google my name.
So in an effort to spread whatever Google love this front page may still have, here are some links to original articles I wrote for this site — articles that gathered tons of links and should have plenty of authority but sadly don’t:
2. Tor Books to offer social networking, original short fiction and nonfiction online — this was one of the posts that were harshly downgraded, despite the fact that it was linked to on BoingBoing and dozens of other websites.
4. Is journalist burnout on the rise? — this article got harshly downgraded despite the fact that it was linked to by Romenesko and dozens of other websites.
5. Readership of major liberal blogs declined in 2007 while conservative blog readership increased — this post was harshly downgraded despite the fact that it was linked to by some of the most popular blogs on the internet, including Andrew Sullivan, Think Progress, Little Green Footballs, Crooks and Liars, Newsbustors, Salon.com. Are you getting the point yet how fucking stupid this algorithm shift has been?
6. The Dawkins Effect: How The God Delusion mainstreamed atheism — this one was harshly downgraded even though it was linked to by at least two A-list blogs and dozens of smaller ones.
9. The Million Writers Award: raising the profile of online literary journals — this one doesn’t even come up first if you google the words “Bloggasm” and “million writers award” in the search field. Pathetic.
11. The Creative Commons Confound: Whether releasing your book for free will help boost your sales — this one, like all the others, was harshly downgraded despite the fact that it got linked to by dozens of sites and at least two A list blogs.
Well there you have it. Thanks a lot Google for rewarding my hours of hard work and thousands of links with the ranking I deserve.