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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

My Sojourn in Google Hell

I have another secular blog that I don't care about all that much, but occasionally post investment tips, political thoughts, and other ideas. But the name of the blog, "Sanity Defense," used to come up as the #1 Google hit when searching for that term, and still does at the moment. But there was a period of several months last year where it suddenly vanished. The site was still indexed, and I could pull up pages from it if I restricted Google to searching within the URL sanity.blog-city.com, but otherwise it was almost impossible to get pages from the site to show up within the first hundred or so hits, even when I typed in lengthy exact phrases from the posts there. The blog, small as it is, has had some significant links to it, so it should have reasonable visibility. I was experiencing what others have called "Google hell" - the mysterious exile that some sites experience when they are given a bottom priority by that all-important engine. It can destroy the value of a site - a true frustration for some Webmasters and bloggers.

After reading about some of the connections between Google and a certain prominent foreign power and source of awesome cuisine, I wondered if a couple of my political comments about the nation might have been misinterpreted by someone or something at Google as being unfriendly. (Silly me - I didn't like those missiles pointed at us, or the military support given to some apparent enemies.) So, being the ambassador of international goodwill that I am (and, frankly, having some very good friends from that country that I didn't want to irritate), I shined up my best chopsticks and plucked out the three or four blog posts that might have been viewed as critical. After correcting my site to a higher level of international political correctness, it was soon redeemed from Google hell. Maybe that was just a coincidence, since the transgressions that cast sites into Google hell are not actually known outside of Google. But now, those searching for sanity defense will find me at the top of the list, ironic as that may seem.

The loss of visibility in other search engines can occur for other reasons. For example, there is a LDS-oriented search engine, LDSSearch.com, which searches a variety of known LDS-related Websites. Some users have observed that nothing from Mormanity or from my LDS-related Web pages (LDSFAQ, etc.) shows up on that engine, while a variety of harder-to-find-in-Google (lower page rank) sites show up. They have no obligation to include every Tom, Dick and Jeff in their search engine and it's OK to be fussy about who's in and who's out. But I will admit I was curious about what transgressions on my site resulted in the exclusion. Could it be something I said about China? ;) The point is that those using the site should understand that some pro-LDS sites may not be included for editorial reasons, so be sure to also check Google and other search engines as well.

Any search tips on how to find the best LDS-related material would be welcome. Some LDS sites have inadequate search functions, while others are great.

6 comments:

BRoz said...

When I was the employment specialist I created a webpage with work-related links for the Salt Lake Area. At the time it was the #1 google listing when you searched for Salt Lake Jobs. Then the site dissappeared from Google entirely. I then did some searching at Earthlink who hosted my page and the dates entered for the page had been changed to 1967 or something. Not only did the internet not exist then, I didnt even exist then. I wonder if there wasnt some foul play envolved.

I know that you can score the most points with Google by the number of other pages in the internet that link to your page. There a lot of free bulletin board, blog, and webpage companies. It's easy to create a quick page with links to your page. Personally, I don't care much if anyone sees my blogs so I havn't actually tried it.

Joseph Antley said...

See, some of us don't have to worry about that since our blogs are just a little obscure. ;)

Richard K Miller said...

Jeff,

The More Good Foundation owns ldssearch.com and I know firsthand that your sites are on the list of sites to index, but the search engine is broken at the moment. The employee who maintained it has left and we haven't focused on it.

You might like ldsfind.com (also ours) and onlymormon.com (not ours), both of which are Google Custom Search Engines that don't require a programmer to maintain. You'll find Mormanity and JeffLindsay.com material on both of those.

dakwegmo said...

Jeff, before using a site's built in search features, I almost always use google's site search feature first. Just type site:website.com before your search terms and it will give you site specific results. I don't have searching enabled on my website, but if you type in "site:invisiblegreen.com mormon" into google's search you'll get all the relevant results. Or if you use the google toolbar, you can put the site search button right next to the search box, and it will automatically search whatever site you're currently on.

broz, it sounds like your site was hosted on a *nix server and the date/time information had become corrupt. *nix systems calculate all dates and times from midnight January 1, 1970. If something had happened to your files and the system couldn't figure out a time to calculate from, then it defaults to December 31, 1969. There are a lot of ways for a file to become corrupt and it's unlikely anything shady was going on.

Chino Blanco said...

What to make of this recent comment at Times & Seasons:

http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=4027#comment-231983

#63: This is my first comment from my new home here in Saudi Arabia. How timely a post for me.

Also, it’s interesting to note that just about every other site in the Bloggernacle, including the archipeligo and LDSelect is BLOCKED. Times and Seasons is the only one I can access. What does it all mean?


Comment by meems — 8/18/2007 @ 4:01 am

I understand the various anomalies that might allow Times & Seasons to get past the Great Firewall of China, but how is it that T&S somehow manages to get the same pass from both the Chinese AND the Saudi Arabian censors?

As meems asks, what does it all mean?

Chino Blanco said...

So, I go to LDS.org and I click on FamilySearch.org and proceed to Register and as I'm filling in the required fields, I notice that "Taiwan" is listed as a "Province of China" in the drop down Country menu.

I'm assuming it's just the wishful thinking of some zealous mainlander who happened to get hired to do the site programming. That must be it. Even so, still bugs me to see it.