Ever had a blog in WordPress? And did you ever wonder why your page results on Google will sometimes suddenly dissappear from the main results into the supplemental results? Here are some tips to de-mystify what contributes to this effect, and how to avoid it from happening in WordPress.
In light of the recent changes in Google’s SERP algorithm, it seems that a lot of sites have been pushed from the main index into the so called Google Hell. Unless you have garnered enough credibility through high quality backlinks/inbound links, more often than not, your page would be pushed there.
So why is this happening? It seems that features on WordPress that improve usability for users are seen by the googlebots as SPAM. The main culprit? The duplication of content. So how do we solve this? We leave the usability features for the users, but deny access to them from the googlebot. Here are some tips on how to do that:
1. Never put a post in more than one category
This is the simplest way to avoid the googlebot from seeing duplicate content whenever they crawl your category pages. However, this method greatly diminishes the usability of your blog. Which then brings us to our second tip:
2. Block googlebot from your category pages
If duplication of content is unavoidable due to your category pages, then the next step would be making your category pages available for your users, but not for the googlebot. This can be done by editing your robots.txt in the root of your webserver. Below is a sample robots.txt file to exclude the googlebot from tour category pages:
However, this method will highly depend on how your permalink structure is optimized in wordpress.
3. Block googlebot from your archive pages
Another major culprit on being indexed to the supplemental results is none other than your monthly archives. Just like the case with your categories, more often than not, the content of your front page will be almost exactly the same as the archives for the current month! A major penalty for google. If your archives and category settings cannot be blocked sufficiently by using robots.txt. There is another method, editing the wordpress codes themselves.
Make the links to your archive links have the rel=”nofollow” attribute to prevent it from being crawled. This can be done my modifying the /wp-includes/general-template.php file. Here is how to do it:
Find this code (line 298 in v2.1.3):
elseif ('html' == $format) return "\t<li>$before<a href='$url' title='$title_text'>$text</a>$after</li>\n"; else // custom return "\t$before<a href='$url' title='$title_text'>$text</a>$after\n";
elseif ('html' == $format) return "\t<li>$before<a href='$url' title='$title_text rel='nofollow'>$text</a>$after</li>\n"; else // custom return "\t$before<a href='$url' title='$title_text' rel='nofollow'>$text</a>$after\n";
4. Assign a unique meta description for each post
Using the Another WordPress Meta Plugin, you can assign unique meta description for each of your pages. This will help differentiate the articles from your wordpress index page, from the individual posts page themselves.
5. UPDATE: There is already a WordPress Plugin available
It seems that someone else has already figured out this problem before I did and even made a wordpress plugin for it. It works by making the headers of your category and archives files have the noindex attribute. You can download the plugin here [seologs.com]
I hope that these tips have helped you in avoiding the depths of Google hell.