Ben Baligad. That’s me. Naturally, benbaligad.com is about my stories, my editorials, my opinions, photos I have taken, and my experiences.
That is what it should be, but it wasn’t always that way. I created benbaligad.com when I was first introduced to WordPresss, around 2011. I decided to make the website about one of my interests which is business.
We just went through the recession and businesses were not doing that great then. I thought I could help. I made it a guest posting site for businesses. At its peak, benbaligad.com had over 1,000 guest posts with follow links pointing back to the guest post donor’s chosen site.
Eventually, I started getting mail from these donors to either remove these links, nofollow them or remove the post altogether. Apparently Google penalized them for these links. Links placed by the owner of a site elsewhere to point to their site are considered unnatural links by Google, and should be nofollowed.
BenBaligad.com also got penalized, but to this date, I am not sure for what. I got a notice on Google Webmaster Tools that my site was getting penalized and de-listed until I fixed it. The result was, nothing on my site was in Google’s search engines. You had to type the exact address on your address bar to get read my posts on my site, or click a link. Google gave me zero impressions.
Google Will Not Tell You Why
The bad thing is Google will not tell you why. They offer a general explanation and it is up to you to guess what is wrong. There are enough write ups on this. Google Webmaster Guidelines on what it could be. Although their rules sounds complete, they speak in generalities. When it comes to details on how to fix the site, they had nothing.
Furthermore, Google does not have support where you can ask questions in detail about your particular case. Who can blame them? There are about 1 billion websites worldwide. Suppose 1% of them asked questions? That would be 10 million questions, literally.
I started reading about what it could be from (self proclaimed) experts from forums, blogs and social media. Only Google has the answer, and they’re not talking. To this day, I don’t know what it was, exactly. My two best answers as to why I was de-listed, don’t sound right, but they are still my best answers:
1. The Guest Posts are Thought to be by Google From Article Banks.
I don’t know what came from article banks or where the articles came from. I reviewed the articles and I thought they would be of use to those who search for such information.
What difference does it make if they came from article banks, if they are useful? How can you tell? How can Google computers tell? Isn’t keeping track of what is inside 1 billion websites enough?
To fix it, I deleted the duplicates and made all of the links nofollow. Duplicates can easily be found by cutting and pasting half or whole paragraph of the post to to Google, and doing a search.
One thing I could not delete were the spun guest posts. Again, how can Google tell? I can’t. If Google finds millions of posts of a particular search of keywords, at some point, these keywords, or the concept of the results, repeat. In other words, they are spun, many times.
Why penalize my site for spinning when your results are mostly spun? Even then, I minimized posts that were obviously spun. Someone once tried to send me over 100 posts about personal injury. The posts each were about personal injury, but in different words. I deleted the posts until there were ten left. But, I eventually deleted those, too.
2. I think the real reason was, too many 404 errors.
Not having a background in Web Development, I didn’t even know what it was. Google spiders, have a record of what the web was, when they crawled last. If a particular url was there the previous crawl, they look for it. If they can’t find it, they create a 404 for the missing url.
Only by Google Webmaster Tools, will tell you 404 errors. I suppose other search engines have their own. One reason I left it alone was, Google does say,
“Generally, 404s don’t harm your site’s performance in search”
There were far more other things to do than to work on other than something that “generally” doesn’t harm your site. If 404’s were indeed the problem, my looking for what was wrong made it worse. I started privatizing the remaining guest posts until I found the culprit post. I was left with 13 posts and still, Google had my site de-listed.
I didn’t realize deleting and privatizing posts, also deletes images and tags. All of these have their own unique URL. Privatizing the posts also privatized the url’s, images and tags. Thus, 404’s were created when Google couldn’t find them. I generally ignored looking at the number , but when I finally looked, benbaligad.com had over 4,300 404’s for the deleted and privatized url’s.
Re-directing 404 is mostly data entry. The 404’s will still be there if the posts were made public. I would have to tell Google that the particular 404 is fixed. If I did that exclusively for one day, I would have to be very dedicated to fix 100 of them. It would take me a year and a half to fix them, maybe more. I decided remove benbaligad.com from the web altogether.
It has been three years, but now, benbaligad.com is again up, but it is now my editorial site. The articles that I haven’t deleted yet are at another site. However, some of the links got lost or are gone. I didn’t keep track of who wrote what. The remaining links are still nofollowed. Google is probably overlooking many do follow links on guest posts throughout the web, but they are still unnatural links.