A simple WordPress setting caused my blog undetected for 8 months

by Abel Cheng on May 12, 2010

in Blogging

I created a niche blog in September last year. After posting a few pages of content, I waited for the site to be indexed by search engines.

Upon checking the blog days or weeks later, I found something unusual. Something I had never seen in my other blogs.

When I checked in Google (using site:domain.com), there was only one entry. Even that, the listing was a bit awkward and it didn’t look like a normal search result. When I used the same parameter on Yahoo, there were no results.

I thought I might give it some time to get back to normal.

Not until recently, after busy with my other projects, I decided to do something about this weird phenomenon. My initial plan was to move the entire blog to a new domain – thinking the existing domain caused the problem (Google blacklisted it?!).

In the midst of moving the site, I predicted the same problem would have had happened after the move.

Somehow something triggered me to take a look at the source code (Ctrl+U). And this action brought this problem to light. I managed to find out the main culprit for this. It was due to the following code:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex, nofollow">

I knew why this happened, now I had to find out what caused this. I thought it was something to do with my settings in my WordPress theme. After searching for it high and low, my efforts remained fruitless.

Leaving me with no choice, I had to go through every setting in WordPress to find out the cause, one at a time – starting with General Settings.

When I reached Privacy Settings, I knew something was wrong. It was set to the second choice which is I would like to block search engines, but allow normal visitors.

I thought to myself, “Damn, who and when the setting was done?”

I really don’t know who did that. It could be me but I totally forget about that. Just because of this one radio button, my blog was under the radar (as far as search engines were concerned) for 8 months. Imagine the amount of sales I could have made if not because of this careless setting.

I quickly changed the setting to the first: I would like my blog to be visible to everyone, including search engines (like Google, Sphere, Technorati) and archivers

Thank god. Now everything is back to normal.  All my previous SEO efforts were wasted. I have to start all over again.

Don’t make the same mistake as I did. And don’t simply change the settings in WordPress for no reason. If you are not sure what you are doing, just accept the standard settings. Otherwise, you efforts will be penalized… just like what happened to me.

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