Tag Archives: search engine

Google Delisted My Site – Now What?

Google delisted my site in December of 2008.  This was due to my site being in violation of the Google quality guidelines. As it turns out, my site had actually been cracked and hidden spammy links had been added a many of my pages.

Getting back into the Google index isn’t a quick thing to do.  It took almost a month before I showed up in the index again.  I did learn a few things along the way though and I’d like to share them with you.

Avoid getting delisted

The best advice I can give is to avoid getting delisted from Google.  Yeah, I know that’s pretty obvious but if you are trying to run a site to make money, getting delisted from Google can get you the coffin and all the nails required to seal it up. Getting delisted from Google sucks, especially if you are relying on organic searches to find your site. I watched my traffic from organic search drop by over 98% within hours of getting delisted.

Google Analytics graph showing how our visits were impacted by being delisted from Google

Here are a few things to help you avoid getting delisted:

  1. Monitor your site regularly
  2. Upgrade your CMS/Blog software as soon as an update/fix is available
  3. Use strong passwords and change them on a regular basis
  4. Monitor your site regularly

Yes, I said to monitor your site twice.  That was intentional and I’ll explain why.

Monitor your site regularly

If you’re not a full time blogger, you probably don’t login to your site on a daily basis.  Heck, if your like me and just blog for the helluvit, you’re lucky to login on a weekly or even monthly basis at times. It’s important to keep track of your site. One way to do this is with the Google Webmaster Tools. Once you register your site with the tools, you can see many useful things about your site.  The most important one in my opinion is What Googlebot sees. This provides you with a top 100 list of keywords that Googlebot has found on your site.

This is the one thing that I missed and what could have kept me from getting delisted.  Googlebot was seeing a bunch of strange terms on my site.  Words like popular drug names and related words.  I ignored those warnings signs as I couldn’t figure out where they were coming from so I assumed it was something Google had messed up.

If Googlebot sees something, it’s there.  You just need to look closer.

Google has a page My site’s been hacked, now what? that has a lot of different things to check on if you think your site has been hacked.

Upgrade Your Blog/CMS

Make sure you keep up to date on the latest version of your blog/CMS as older versions typically have exploitable security bugs.  This is what happened to me. I had been lax in upgrading to the latest version of WordPress because it was going to require me to change some minor functionality. In the end, the days and weeks I spent trying to recover my site and get back into the Google listings was much more time consuming than the 15 minutes or so it would have taken to upgrade.

Use strong passwords

I can’t stress this one enough. Having a simple password is just asking for trouble. Make sure that all users have strong passwords, especially any users with escalated privileges (like your admin account). There are numerous sites online that will generate a strong password for you. Also, tools like LastPass make it really easy to generate and use strong passwords.

Don’t forget to ensure your database also has a strong password. Lots of web hosting companies provide web based interfaces for your databases. If your database hasn’t been configured to only allow connections from specific IPs, anyone on the net can connect to it. The problem with this is a malicious person can take random guesses at your database host name and if you don’t have a secure password, they can guess their way into your database without even having to access it through your CMS.

Getting Delisted from Google Sucks

Getting delisted from Google sucks a whole lot as you can see from the graph below.

Google Analytics graph showing how our visits were impacted by being delisted from Google

Google Analytics graph showing how our visits were impacted by being delisted from Google

Some of you may recall that my site was cracked late last year. This resulted in a large quantity of hidden spam links getting added to my site which resulted in Google removing Ivany.org from their search engine.

I was averaging somewhere around 200 hits a day (not bad for a silly little site like this) and I watched that go down to about 3 in a matter of hours. Ouch! I did get a few direct visits from people I know and a very small number from other search engines.

On January 3, 2009 I was added back into Google and that day I jumped back up to to about 75 hits. I’m not back to where I was before I got delisted yet but I hope to get there soon.  I’m still showing up on the first page for most of the major topics on this site so I can’t complain too much.

I have learned a few things from being delisted though and I’ll try to put them together into a couple posts over the next couple weeks. There was one big warning sign that I missed simply because I didn’t know what I was looking for.

Cuil.com search results include random images

Cuil.com

Today I read about a new search engine called Cuil (apparently pronounced Cool) that is from some ex-Googlers.  The “magazine-style” search results are interesting to look at and I’m sure that people searching for their favorite celebrity will be very happy with the presentation.

One problem I’ve found with Cuil’s results page is that it appears they insert random images in with the results.  These random images aren’t necessarily associated with the actual page they are lining to.  For example, I searched for labranard on Cuil to see if it picked up some of my pages. The image below shows two of my pages (Apparently a Saint Bernard Labrador Mix is a Big Dog and Articles tagged Labranard) from the results generated.

Cuil.com search results for labranard

If you notice, both results have an image associated with them. The part that concerns me (as the owner of the link at the other end of those results) is that I don’t know where those images came from. They are not from my site and I don’t think they should be associated with my content. The last thing I want is from the copyright owner to come knocking on my door telling me I can’t use their image, even though I am not using it.

The other interesting part is that each additional page of Cuil’s results seems to duplicate links. On subsequent results pages for labranard, I see the same link/image combination in a different place. It’s rather redundant to have multiple instances of the same link on subsequent pages.

Anyways, I’m sure I’ll try out Cuil from time to time to see how it’s progressing.  I’m always curious to see where my pages show up in the search engines.  Call it vanity. :)

Update: Well, it appears that Cuil is now gone.