Sunday, June 8, 2008

NEW POSTS IN CUSTOM DOMAIN INVISIBLE ON GOOGLE SEARCH

After about nine months of blogging on Blogger’s free hosting service, I thought it was time to get a custom domain to publish my posts on this blog. This decision was influenced partly by seeing some bloggers whose sites I frequent do so and partly by the advice of other successful bloggers on their blogs. So, on May 23, 2008, I switched to a custom domain mirroring the title of my blog.

In order to ensure continuity and zero disruption, I chose to buy a custom domain through Blogger itself and the present domain was registered with GoDaddy in a jiffy. Blogger also did all the necessary modifications required to shift the blog to this domain. In addition, Blogger continues to provide a free platform to host the blog as before and also seamlessly redirect all readers from my old url, www.vinodksharma.blogspot.com to this one, www.indiaretold.com .

Things couldn’t be better. Or so I thought initially. Then came the shock. New posts on the new custom domain were not visible on either Google search or Google Blog search. It was as if the new content in the blog had disappeared from the net altogether, except if you visited the blog directly. This was a rude shock about which at least I was unable to find any warning anywhere either on Google/Blogger or elsewhere on the net. On my old sub domain, my new posts used to almost instantaneously appear on these two search engines, and almost always on the first page of a search with reasonably relevant keywords. To make matters worse, my Google Page Rank, which was a respectable 2 in my previous sub domain, dropped to zero too!

Then started my frantic efforts to ping Google and other search engines in the hope that new posts would start showing up. Nothing happened. Desperate attempts made through Google and Blogger Help Centres, Groups etc yielded no results. A message posted in one of the groups asking as to why my new posts were invisible is yet unanswered. After going through this most complicated maze for a couple of days, I was finally able to find how to send an email to Blogger. I sent an email alright, but am still waiting for a response.

As I was seriously contemplating switching back to my original web address, came the big relief. Finally, Google search had captured one post on my custom domain. This post, Osama and Obama: Saul and Paul was posted on June 07. Earlier posts posted after the three day transit period required for shifting my blog to the new address i.e. between May 26 and June 07 seem to have been swallowed in the WWW somewhere. They still do not figure in searches and it seems they probably never will. This means that nobody will be able to get to read them unless he has been visiting my site regularly or visits it in future through a search engine looking for something else.

I am not able to understand why this bug should exist in the first place. Blogger continues to provide the platform for publishing this blog like before. All previous posts on the blogspot sub domain continue to seamlessly appear in Google search in the new domain, just as they used to, right up in the search pages. The connect between the two addresses is clearly established. But only for old posts. For new posts, Google becomes a stranger and treats them very differently, as if they are from somewhere else!.

This is something I don’t get at all. Blogger and Google have partnered with GoDaddy to provide a smooth shift to a custom domain. Why can the shift not be seamless for new posts too? Is there any method anyone of you out there knows to get Google search engine to recognise new posts as coming from an established site whose address has changed, nothing else? Should not Google have fixed this bug before offering custom domains on the Blogger platform. At the very least, should not they inform bloggers up front about the disruption that they are going to face after switching over to a custom domain provided through them?

Since Google search engine has finally started picking up my new posts, this post should show up in Google Search. Therefore earlier posts in the custom domain that have become ‘invisible’ on Google Search and Blog Search are given below, for the benefit of those who may otherwise not even know that they exist.

Congress defeated, deception continues

Sharon Stone and the yang of nations

IPL: Bigger than big and getting bigger

Governance and the politics of petrol prices