Over the past few days I have noticed something curious happening with this Urban Semiotic Blog and Google.
For some strange reason a lot of our articles are no longer being returned in a basic Google web search and that is killing our readership because Google usually sends a lot of traffic our way.
Those articles used to appear in Google — they still appear in Yahoo! and Microsoft Live Search as the top returns — but they have been removed from Google view. We’ll see if this article you’re reading right now ever appears in Google and remains there or if, it too, eventually mysteriously disappears from Google’s search returns.
Yesterday, I sent the following inquiry to WordPress.com support:
I am doing some searches on published articles on my blog and I am not finding them in a Google search. They used to appear there. They still appear in Yahoo! and MSFT searches.
Is WordPress.com in any way editing/blocking/content spidering by disallowing Google access to certain posts with tags/topics/categories that you — or AdSense — find objectionable?
The articles that are missing deal with death, murder, censorship, critical articles, killings and child abuse, etc. You can see some of the articles in the general Google tag indexing but the full articles themselves are missing and I’m wondering why.
I received a crisp reply from WordPress.com that they do not censor content from Google Searches.
I followed up with this reply:
I appreciate your response, however, my experience is proving very interesting in the ongoing discovery of my blog articles that have been deleted from only Google Search returns and it seems they are being removed because of specific title words and WordPress.com tags and categories.
While I realize there is no such thing as a coincidence — does your AdSense deal with Google allow them to disallow placing ads on content they find offensive for their advertising program? If so, is it then equally possible that your deal with Google AdSense and the special server Matt spoke about online, is silently and automatically blocking/blacklisting content for inclusion in Google search returns by first blocking it from having AdSense placed?
Is there any way to opt out of AdSense and then force Google to do a full, unbiased, non-advertising-based, reindexing of my blog?
I am working directly with Google to push back every single article that has been deleted from their system. I just hope it doesn’t all disappear again without notice. Articles critical of Bush and Iraq also seem to be disallowed by default as well as any articles that are critical of WordPress.
I was then asked by WordPress.com support to provide examples of what I was seeing.
I did and I was told by another person in support that what I was seeing was not what they were seeing.
So, for the record, here are the screenshots I took to document the Search Returns issue and I have since deleted Google Desktop Search from my computer in case that was causing strange returns. There was no change in the Google search returns with that local engine removed from my system. I also did these search tests on other computers with the same results.
You may get a right return now from Google because over the past few days I have been slowly working with them to add back — a URL at a time — the articles that were removed to Google’s search returns.
In the first search example — “Scobleizer Found Dead in His Grave” — Google returned the following. Notice the strange article links to the WordPress.com support forum and tags/category listings on WordPress.com, but there is no longer any direct link to the article proper on the Urban Semiotic URL:
Here’s Yahoo’s return on the same search term and the first return links directly to my article proper:
Here’s the Microsoft return and the first return links directly to my article:
Let’s continue now with this search phrase — “Making Published Posts Private” — and again from Google we get links to the WordPress.com support page where the article is linked and the WordPress.com tag system:
Finally, here’s a search example for an article Winslie Gomez wrote for Urban Semiotic from a Google search on — “If War is Human” — and here’s the return and again the WordPress.com tag system is featured and a direct link to the article does not appear:
What do you make of these odd Google search returns?
Are you seeing the same thing on your end when try these searches or have these missing files finally been returned to the Google search now after I pressed them back into the Google pool?
This morning we suddenly have a slew of new comments from new readers again — always a sign of good Google indexing — so maybe something broken was fixed?
Perhaps something set askew was indeed set right?