Disappeared from first page of Google – The reason why!

I was ranking on the 1st page of Google for a long tail keyword (4 words) for months (or years) now and everything was fine until a couple of days ago when the ranking disappeared. My site was on the first page 7th/8th position for that search phrase and to my surprise it got knocked down through the major UK SERP update that happen the 2nd week of February 2010.

I thought that the ranking would be a couple of places further down at least or a couple of pages down in extreme cases but i was shocked to find that my website had disappeared completely from the search result. Actually not my website but the actual webpage which was ranking for that search phrase. I searched the top 500 listings (first 50 SERP pages) and I couldn’t find a trace of it. Google wouldn’t let me go past 50 pages btw.

Now this is a massive blow in my face because I haven’t purchased any links to boost the ranking of this page. As a matter of fact, this webpage doesn’t even have a single backlink but it was ranking amongst 48 million results! I haven’t changed anything on the site and the website if a couple of years old as well, so there’s no reason why the ranking would have disappeared all of a sudden.

The only thing that i can think of is that i keep updating the site daily which means that there are more and more pages everyday. Now this is a good thing but the problem that i have on my site is that i’ve got a sitewide navigation which links to this page in question. I believe i have crossed the tipping point for being seen as trying to manipulate the rankings through excessive internal linking. Think about it, if google can penalise you for footer links (which are sitewide), then obviously there’s a mechanism to detect excessive links especially those ones which the same anchor text directing to the same webpage. I experienced the same phenomenon some time ago and I’m sure I did something about it then and there.

For the sake of it, I have now removed the link to that webpage from the sitewide navigation. I need to change the whole static sitewide navigation thing but i cannot make too many changes at once, otherwise i will lose ranking across the whole site.

Cleaning up WordPress Header

WordPress outputs a lot of crap in the head section of the html. So if you want to get rid of them, you shouldn’t just delete the call to wp_head() in your header.php file as this will break plugins which uses that function (eg All In One SEO Pack, Platinum SEO Pack etc). What you should do is place the following lines in your theme’s functions.php file right after the <?php> tag:

remove_action(‘wp_head’, ‘feed_links’, 2);
remove_action(‘wp_head’, ‘feed_links_extra’, 3);
remove_action(‘wp_head’, ‘rsd_link’);
remove_action(‘wp_head’, ‘wlwmanifest_link’);
remove_action(‘wp_head’, ‘index_rel_link’);
remove_action(‘wp_head’, ‘parent_post_rel_link’);
remove_action(‘wp_head’, ‘start_post_rel_link’);
remove_action(‘wp_head’, ‘adjacent_posts_rel_link’);
remove_action(‘wp_head’, ‘check_and_publish_future_post’);
remove_action(‘wp_head’, ‘wp_print_styles’);
remove_action(‘wp_head’, ‘wp_generator’);
remove_action(‘wp_head’, ‘rel_canonical’);

If you want to just remove the comments rss feed, then include just remove_action(‘wp_head’, ‘feed_links’, 2) and note the 2 in the argument list. If you don’t include that, it won’t work.

If you have set your blog as private (I would like to block search engines, but allow normal visitors), then you will see that WordPress will automatically include a “noindex, nofollow” for the robots meta tag. You need to change it to be publicly visible to everyone by going into Settings and Privacy in the wordpress admin panel. Otherwise you’ll see your pages dropping out of the index quickly.


If you want to delete the previous and next post links from wp_header in WordPress 3.0, you will have to remove the following:

remove_action(‘wp_head’, ‘adjacent_posts_rel_link_wp_head’, 10, 0 );

If don’t see the links removed, you need to look at the default-filters.php file (found in wp-includes) and check how the add_action have been written and use the same format (including the parameters) to remove them. You can just copy the whole line and replace add_action with remove_action.

Importing existing blogs into wp hive for wordpress

I’ve been playing around with wp_hive plugin for a while a day or two now and I wanted to see how I can import my other blogs into it. The reason is that I want to have a central point where I can manage all the blogs instead of having to update and upgrade at different places all the time. My other blogs that I wanted to import run on wordpress but they were an older version though. I had a look at the number of tables and they were 10 while the new wordpress 2.9.1 had 11. So the first thing that I did was to update wordpress on the other blogs. If your blogs run on some other platform, then you will need to get it into wordpress format before you can import the blogs to use with WP Hive.

Once you’ve installed wordpress on your primary domain eg DomainA.com (the place where you want central management), you just need to copy the wp_hive plugin contents into the plugins folder in wordpress. Next make sure the wp_content is writable otherwise you wouldn’t be able to activate the plugin. Once that is done, you can start adding other domains into WP Hive. You do that by inputting the new domain name eg DomainB.com and then put “/” as the subfolder because you want it to point to the main installation directory which in this case is DomainA.com. Use a unique table prefix for this new domain eg dmb_ as all the tables for the hives will be created in the same database and the table names are important to load the files specific to a particular domain.

The above paragraph is really for adding new domains (blogs) but for existing blogs you will need to export a copy of the database (through PHPMyAdmin) and find and replace table names (wp_) with another prefix. You do that only for table names – it takes about 1 min and all you have to do is make sure that you’re replacing the prefix only for create and insert statements and not actual input values. Once this is done, you go back to the main domain to import this database (for your existing blog) in your main database (the main database you’ll be using for wp hive). You then proceed to add a new site by going to the options in wp hive on your main wordpress installation. You will need at this point to add the domain name as a parked domain. Don’t try to make it an addon domain! Just park the domain on top of your main one. If you have the default theme, everything should work fine now.

However if you have another theme, you will see a blank page at this point because wordpress is not able to load the theme specified in the wp_options table. You just need to copy the theme from your previous blog into your main one and voila, everything is back!

Remember that DNS propagation takes time and sometimes you will get DNS errors or 404s because nameservers changes haven’t completed. Just be patient!

WordPress MU or WP Hive Plugin for multiple blogs on single installation

Blogging is a great way to create content and bulk up a website. However if you run a couple of blogs, you’ll soon realise that it becomes a nightmare to upgrade them as soon as a new version becomes available. I’m really talking about wordpress here because installing wordpress is really easy and there are millions of themes available for you to change the look and feel of your website.

So in an attempt to have multiple domains powered through just one software installation, I had a go with WordPress MU (multi user). I didn’t know what I was getting into and I now regret it because I’ve spent a whole day trying to make it work. Let me talk about my requirements first:

  1. I want to be able to create different blogs (different topics) easily
  2. I want to be able to upgrade them easily as well
  3. Something which is free (open source)
  4. Ability to map multiple domains on a single software installation
  5. Ability to have different look and feel for all those websites
  6. Ability to use shared hosting to perform the tasks

WordPress MU (WPMU) can do all these things but if you’re on shared hosting, then it becomes a problem because you will need to be able to do wildcard mapping for all subdomains, that is, mapping “*” to the main website. Most shared hosting companies do not allow this and you also need access to modify the VirtualHost component as well (httpd.conf). Although my hosting company did the subdomain wildcard mapping for me so that each new blog is created as a subdomain which forwards to the main script (index.php) to retrieve the relevant data for that blog, I still had to use a plugin to enable multiple domain mapping onto the installation. I couldn’t get it work and it was just too much work considering the drawbacks of wordpress mu which are mainly incompatibility of certain plugins, being a few versions back from the main wordpress software and the difficulty in setting it up in the first place.

To be honest, WordPress MU is too complicated to set up and you’ll probably get so frustrated before you get it to run that you’ll think it’s just not worth the effort (just like me). So I came across this plugin (wp hive) which you can activated and get multiple domains run from one single installation of the normal wordpress software. You don’t need to add wildcard subdomain mapping or do anything complicated. You just install wordpress as normal and install the wp hive plugin. Once activated, you can start adding new domains to your existing wordpress installation. One thing to remember though is that you need to have wp_content writeable before you activate the plugin, otherwise it’s not going to work.

You need to park the additional domains on the same host for it to work as well. Just normal domain parking works and as soon as dns propagation has completed, you will be able to log in to the new domain as if wordpress was install on that domain. Sweet, eh?

So if you want multi domain, multi user, multi blogs, then i recommend wp hive over wordpress mu because of the ease of installation and use.

Google caffeine and indexed pages

Just before google caffeine was implemented, the number of indexed pages on my site were decreasing dramatically. I was starting to get worried because my traffic were decreasing consistently with the number of removed webpages in google index. However I did nothing and decided to wait and see what happens.

In January 2010, I noticed a significant increase in the amount of indexed pages for my website. The results were surprisingly high – I had 50%+ more pages indexed than before google caffeine. The number is increasing day by day probably because i update my website everyday but i’ve found that google caffeine seems to be giving more attention to crawling and indexing which is always a good thing.

If you have noticed a  decrease in the number of indexed pages on your website, then you need to look at the quality of the webpages of your site. My opinion on this is that if you have low quality webpages which is the result of an attempt to get updated content more frequently to entice GoogleBot, then maybe you need to change this. Nobody likes copied over content or little content with few keywords which are high paying. A webpage needs to serve its purpose and that purpose is to deliver on what it’s supposed to – for an article it needs to be rich in information, for a product, it needs to have a good description to clear off any doubts in the mind of the potential buyer.

Custom made sofa – Why settle for anything else?

After a long search for the perfect house, I finally found one which has got most of the features I wanted. Of course, if i had it my way, i would build a house from scratch rather than buying an already built house. Anyway, because I was renting before, i didn’t find it necessary to buy my own furniture at that time and it would have been a hassle moving furniture to the new house and costly as well. Therefore I had to find a nice comfortable sofa so that i can watch tv in my cosy little place.

I went to all the big sofa shops (DFS, Land of Leather etc) and some small shops as well but i didn’t really find one which really appealed to me. There were some sofas which were ‘alright’ but it seems that i was settling for something that i did not really want because i didn’t have any other choice. But when they told me that i need to wait for like 3 months to get my sofa delivered, that was it for me. I could understand waiting 2 weeks but not three months! Where was i supposed to sit for a quarter of a year? On the floor, you’re having a laugh! I’m not paying hundreds if not thousands of pounds to sit on the floor.

This is when i decided to look into custom made sofa. At first i thought they were expensive but when i looked into it, i found that the prices were actually cheaper. The company itself is called Nabru and are based in London but you can order from anywhere in the UK. You need a sofa that’s going to use the space in your living room efficiently while providing the nicest and most comfortable seats. You can read the nabru sofa review here for more information on the company.

I’ve noticed that a lot of people tend to make their houses fit around their sofa when it should be the other way round. You can sometimes see sofas in really awkward places or find very little room to walk in because standard sofas were bought and the shapes and sizes are not meant for the room but still they are there (probably because people who bought them didn’t have any other choices or they got it for cheap!). My advice is to look for custom made sofas because they are not that expensive after all.

My yahoo answers account got banned

Yahoo Answers is good for driving targetted traffic to your website. If people see that you’re an expert in your field, they will usually click on the link to your website for more information (provided you’ve included a link in your report). However, you need to be at least a Level 2 account holder to be able to insert clickable links, otherwise the links will be plain text and people will have to copy and paste the url in their browser and the chances of that happening are very slim.

So i decided to become Level 2 in yahoo answers and i had to accumulate 250 points. You get 100 points by signing up to yahoo answers, 1 point for logging in everyday and 2 point for each answer provided. Asking questions cost you 10 points and receiving violation incurs you points as well. If you’re voted the best answer, you get 10 points for that but i didn’t really focus on that one and concentrated my efforts on answering questions as 75 answers will get me to Level 2. Since you are only allowed to provide 20 answers a day for Level 1 accounts, it took me 3 days to reach Level 2 because I answered my daily limits and a couple of my answers were chosen as best answers.

All the links that i provided when i was Level 1 became active and clickable and so were any subsequent links. I wanted to see how long it was going to take me to answer 20 questions. So i decided to do a little promotion for this guy for his SEO website. All my answers were really great and helpful and it took me 1 and half hours to complete the task. That was not worth my time at all but i got a surprise email the next day informing me that my yahoo answer account was suspended. I quickly appealed against it because i held this yahoo account since the year 2000 and wanted to keep it clean but the response i got was that i violated the rules and it’s been banned now. I emailed them lot once more asking them to check the quality of my answers and not go by the links i provided (well i know i got suspended for including too many links) but they never replied back.

I later found out that you need to keep all your questions and answers on yahoo private because other users will try to get you banned. Like i said, i wasn’t just inserting links but was providing helpful answers but once your yahoo answers is suspended, there is no way to get it back. The second thing i learned was that you need to keep a balance on how many answers you will include links and how many answers you won’t. Put it this way, if you include a link in all your answers, it doesn’t look good and will get you banned sooner or later. Best thing to do is keep a low profile and promote your website by putting the URL in the source section when you answer a question occasionally.

I’m  a bit upset about this specific yahoo answer account being banned but i’ve got someone to open 5 new accounts for me now and they are all promoting my sites and because the answers and questions are private (so nobody can view the activity on these accounts), they are all doing fine. If you haven’t tried uahoo answers as a method of traffic, it’s not late to start now and this could be one of the finest SEO strategies that you can employ.