Archive for the ‘Status update’ Category

Google analytics

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

It just goes to show how little I am concerned about the traffic to this site, but I’ve just been into GA and I note that at around 5th October I managed to remove the GA tracking code from the footer of the blog pages, so that content is showing no activity for all that time. 

I’ve now put the analytics code on again, in the footer. This may well be a dull system message, and of interest to no one but myself, but I wish I’d written one of those when I did whatever it was that I did that caused the code to drop off the template. My suspicion rests with an automated WordPress update: if I were anything other than lazy I would not use automation for such things…

Causality part II

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

I left it a little longer than a week, during which time I didn’t change any of the blogs, add or edit any posts, or even check the search results.

Today, the home page of the site is back up to #9 for the search term “search experiments”, which makes the previous change look something like the usual non-random churn.

Could it be that the initial dip was some kind of penalty, but the fact that no new splog posts have been published means that the penalty has diminished? It could, but there are a hundred other possible explanations. Beware of jumping to conclusions.

Update on experiment 1

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

It transpires that the whole experiment was somewhat misconceived.

To recap: we were having trouble getting images indexed on a certain part of another live site, and on examining the cache of the pages in Google we noted that the images were not appearing. We then identified a couple of candidate reasons why this might be, isolated them and set up some pages here to test which of the reasons might be causing it. 

We successfully identified the cause of the phenomenon.

However, the underlying assumption – that the absence of the image from Google’s cached version was somehow an indication that Google had not indexed the image – was incorrect, as I discovered when looking again at an offending cached page using another browser (in this case IE), which rendered the image.

I suppose that the experiment worked, but the hypothesis unfortunately died.

Effects of taggregation, plus status updates

Friday, August 15th, 2008

I am a little surprised to find that the blog home page was briefly #2 (now #3) in Google for the phrase “search experiments”, and that the site home page is #2 in Yahoo (in each case, the UK varieties). Despite this apparent “success” (I don’t think that the term has driven any search visitors to the site), there remain pages of the site resolutely unindexed.


The preference that Google is showing for the blog home page is also interesting, and it is worth looking into why this might be, particularly because the links that I have created are all to the website home page. Although all the pages on the site link to the blog home, all the pages/posts on the blog link to the site home. 

So what is going on with Google here? A link: operator search returns no results, but Webmaster tools credits the site overall with 39 external links. Eight of these are to the home page, the rest to blog pages. The eight, which I set up, are from a couple of other blogs, one of which is totally weak and the other fairly weak.

The links to blog pages are mostly from Technorati, and all Technorati links are from pages aggregating all blogs with particular tags. The other links look as if they are doing something similar, probably with material taken or scraped from Technorati.

There’s good cross-linking between the blog and the other site pages: all links on blog pages to the main site home page use the phrase; conversely, all links on the non-blog pages link to the blog including the phrase. 

So, crosslinking should pretty much cancel itself out in relation to relative ranking. Which leads to an interesting tentative hypothesis: that simply blogging and using tags can garner external links – from aggregator pages – that are as powerful as hand-edited links from existing sites.

I do have one reasonable powerful incoming link set up (from the home page of a five-year old site with thousands of organic links), but this is not yet showing up as an external link in Webmaster tools. (This link is to the home page, not the blog.)

OK, it could of course be passing PR without showing up in Webmaster tools. I shall keep an eye out to see whether the relative ranking changes, and when the link shows up in Webmaster tools.


In Yahoo, it’s the home page that is showing up in the rankings. The blog home page is nowhere to be seen in the rankings; indeed, Site Explorer doesn’t recognise the page among the six that it currently lists. 

However, Site Explorer is giving credit for the one relatively powerful link to the site.

Observations and predictions

1) The blog home page being “ahead” of the home page in Google rankings seems to suggest that the links garnered by tag aggregation – I am disappointed but not wholly surprised to discover that the word “taggregation” has already been coined – may have a significant role to play in getting content indexed and ranked. I will not put it more strongly than that at present. It may be worth experimenting with a new blog, unlinked elsewhere, to test this hypothesis – by watching how it performs up to the point that someone manually links to it.

2) Having a top 3 result for a plausible if specialised phrase does not necessarily generate traffic.

3) Google is more interested in blog content than Yahoo (?)

Prediction: when Webmaster Tools shows the strong site in the external links, the home page for the site will outperform the blog home page in Google. 

Thinking about it, the other possible reason that the blog home page may be outperforming the home page is content – there’s typically a lot more content on the blog page and (obviously enough) the phrase “search experiments” gets mentioned all the time on it.

Ranking versus indexing – update

Friday, August 8th, 2008

Back after a week or so’s total inattention, and an interesting pattern is emerging. With the power of external links beginning to kick in, the home page for the site is now ranking at #5 in the big G for the familiar phrase. However, all of the non-blog pages appear to have disappeared from the index – at least, those few that were there already. None are currently indexed.

I suspect that this is part of a general fluctuation common with new sites, but I’d make the following observations. 

  1. The blog pages aren’t affected by this. Those that are set to be indexed are there in the big G index.
  2. Since the last update I’ve introduced an XML sitemap with all URLs in there (which updates with any new blog posts). So far no beneficial effect for non-blog pages.
  3. Some of the inbound links are showing in G webmaster tools now, but I suspect that this ranking means that all have been taken into account. The most powerful link is on a page that has now been crawled since the link was introduced.
  4. None of the links is from a page relevant to the subject matter. 
  5. Yahoo is not indexing anything but the homepage at present. Site Explorer is however showing links to pages other than the home page. I’m not quite sure how Y can count links to pages that it doesn’t recognise as indexed.
No firm conclusions as yet. Tentative conclusions are:
  • Using a blog platform is better for getting your pages indexed than hand-crafting HTML
  • Possibly this effect is helped by tagging, as other sites collate, aggregate and link to posts based on tagging
  • It’s easier to get one page to rank for a search term than it is to get a suite of pages into the index
However, at present it is also making it difficult to draw conclusions about either the CSS/picture experiment or the anchor text/noindex experiment.

Sitemap generator and update

Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

Finally worked out how to use the excellent XML (Google) Sitemap Generator plug-in. What I mean is, I had some problems adding non-blog pages, mainly because I’m an idiot – I was adding pages and then updating the sitemap, when I should have been adding pages, updating the options and then updating the sitemap.

Hoping that this will help to get some more non-blog pages indexed, so that the experiments can proceed.

In the meantime, the home page is now ranking #13 in Yahoo’s UK search for the term “search experiments”. It’s currently the only page from the site or blog that Yahoo currently has indexed.

The purpose of this site and blog is not to rank for the phrase, which I don’t think will generate any significant traffic. However, it isn’t a nonsense phrase. It is intriguing to see how much easier it is to rank for a single, albeit non-competitive, phrase, than it is to get all pages in a site into the index.

It’s particularly interesting to see how much more quickly blog posts are indexed when compared with hand-coded pages.

Taking a few days out now. The sitemap is set, the external links are in, the comment spam-buster is installed. We’ll see how things fare when I return from holiday…

Unlucky for some

Friday, August 1st, 2008


  • Main home page now #13 for “search experiments” on Google. 
  • Most sub-pages on main site not yet indexed.
  • New links from third party sites not in cache now – not sure if they are helping yet or not.
  • Blog pages in and out of Google index – still waiting for the preferences set in the All in One SEO plugin to settle down I think.



  • Waiting on existing pages to be indexed before I can conclude the two experiments.
  • New experiments will need site to be indexed too. 

Status update: ranking and indexing

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008


  • added XML sitemap. I used the Google Sitemap Generator plugin for WordPress, which is find for the blog but not quite as happy adding too many other non-blog pages, or so it seemed to me. I added other pages by hand a few times and only a couple of them “took” in the sitemap.
  • added link to blog footer template
  • added new pages related to the next experiment
  • changed some blog settings to exclude duplicate content and change default URLs
  • added link to home page on unrelated PR3 page, hoping to speed up indexing of all pages
  • Google’s indexing fluctuates wildly. I’ve been checking much more than necessary, but I’ve seen results on the site: operator search fluctuate from 3 to 16 to 23 today.
  • Google likes the blog pages more than the rest of the site, in terms of indexing. Despite excluding certain types of page, there’s a lot of duplicate content (ie posts indexed separately under title, tag and category…)
  • Links direct from blog posts seem to be influential in getting site pages indexed
  • Main site home page was ranking #31 earlier today for the non-quote term “search experiments”; now #34.

Status and activity update

Saturday, July 26th, 2008


  • 9 pages indexed in Google – only from the blog, not from the rest of the site.
  • Blog home is #265 in Google for the unquotationed term “search experiments”.
  • Google Webmaster Tools reporting that pages are indexed; no other data available.


  • Submitted site to Google using its addurl link
  • Authenticated the site in Yahoo Site Explorer
  • Added a couple of links from a couple of old blogs
  • Added and activated SEO plug-in for WordPress
  • Tentative efforts at proper use of CSS
  • I plan to devise an experiment around anchor text – whether and how far it cascades