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High Search Engine Ranking – A Blessing and a Curse

One of the beauties of having a highly ranked site that is regularly visited by search engine bots is that you can very quickly rise to the top of search engines on a breaking news story. This can be a wonderful thing – but it can also be something of a curse. Let me illustrate.

My original blog is LivingRoom – a blog that won’t be everyone’s cup of tea because it’s a personal blog that touches topics of personal interest to me including issues of spirituality, culture, the church I’m part of (LivingRoom) weird, wonderful and bizarre links as well as an occasional story from my daily life. In the early days of my blogging this blog it became extremely popular (a long story for another day) that was on the receiving end of many thousands of incoming links. As a result it quickly climbed the rankings in Google and now has a page rank of 6. SE bots visit it daily (sometimes more than once per day) and most posts rank pretty highly on Google for their topic.

For example this week after the London bombing I started blogging about the situation (along with thousands of others). I didn’t do so for any other reason than we were nervous for our family and friends and blogging seemed to be something constructive to do with my time while we waited for news. The post got a few links from other bloggers but at the time didn’t get much attention in the blogosphere – I didn’t mind this as it was not my intention when I posted to do it for such motivation.

Today I checked LivingRoom’s stats and found that the London Explosion page has become the most popular page on that blog. This is not a result of any new links but rather a high ranking in Google for terms like ‘london explosion‘ (now ranked 5th but ranked 2nd earlier today) and ‘london explosion pictures’ (currently ranked 2nd and 3rd). This is just one example of many that I could talk about from the past year or so of blogging and illustrates the power of having a blog that is highly regarded (and ranked) by Google.

However being highly ranked can also be something of a curse. You see when your blog ranks well it means that you can become highly ranked for many search terms that you may not necessarily wish to be highly ranked for.

For example I remember the day that I found I was one of the most highly ranked sites on Google for ‘Spanish Porn’ (I’d used the words separately on a post). Earlier this week a friend found my site in a search engine when he did a search for ‘bubble wrap’. Another time I wrote a post with a critique on one aspect Australian church and became the number 1 result for people searching for that church. Another time a friend asked me to link to his blog and I became more highly ranked for his name than he did. This is also how I came to be quoted in the New York Times for being an expert on Lord of the Rings and it’s spiritual themes and in an Aussie paper as an expert on Spam. All of these situations illustrate both the power of a highly ranked site but also the responsibility that one with such power to blog wisely.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Yes, Darren, since the London bombings my blog has also been sprayed with search clicks, some of them weird. Someone apparently searched Google for “inbox” and ended up at SYNTAGMA. Mysterious.

  2. IO ERROR says:

    I wish I had to deal with this “curse.” :)

  3. Allen Heat says:

    Well, I’m currently dealing with some of those, but it doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem, i’m the first ranked when searching for “rockstar new game: bully”…i get alot of daily visitors from that search, eventhough i posted about it about a month ago and my blog is about graphics, one thing is sure in my current case: it can’t help too much, but it wouldn’t hurt abit! :D

    Heat

  4. Andy Merrett says:

    I get a similar thing on my blog – again I blogged about the London situation because I live and work in London, I love London, and I felt part of a common cause by blogging, even though most of what I wrote was based on the mainstream.

    It feels almost weird to get any kind of gain from this – another situation where blogging is worth a lot more than any financial gain, even when one does it professionally (or aspires to it, at least)

    It’s also a good reason to watch closely what people are searching for, when things might be out of context, and even helping people along (if you have time), perhaps by adding new content or links to old posts when it’s right to do so.

    I don’t do this as often as I’d like, but search engine traffic can be fairly important, perhaps even moreso for things like Adsense earnings, so it pays to make your destination pages as useful as possible.

  5. Andy Merrett says:

    By the way, is it possible to see your pagerank without using IE on a PC with the Google toolbar? I primarily use a Mac, or Firefox when I use a PC, so I don’t often get to see what my PR is. Any ideas? I don’t fret about my PR, but it’s interesting to see.

  6. Cary says:

    Andy, yep, just install the googlebar Mozilla extension from http://googlebar.mozdev.org/
    and then install the PR indicator extension from http://toolbar.nickstallman.net/

    It works like a dream : D

    Funny, my wife Lori’s cancer blog, Too sexy for my hair, gets some hillarious hits as you can imagine…one of my favorites, and one that she gets every day, is for: Sexy Womans (yep Womans), who is searching for sexy womans? Too funny. There are others, but I can’t mention them here ; D

  7. David says:

    I get some weird ones on my blog. A really odd thing happened when I put my “feedburner” page in. I started getting indexed by google more for having new/newsworthy content and since my feedburner page is just some rss feeds, I get hits due to the content on those feeds, and tracking those users around, some of them actually stay for a bit after finding me.

    Now if only my adsense would increase…lol.

  8. Andy, there’s now a Google toolbar for Firefox. Whether it’s the same as Cary’s extension, I’ve no idea.

  9. Marc James says:

    I have a content site that seems to get indexed by Google and others sometimes seemingly more than hourly. For example, I’ve posted stories that were pertaining to popular, current events in sports and it is simply amazing to see it appear on Google News literally minutes after hitting post. I’d say the neatest part was appearing on Google News’ front page as a bolded top story under Sports. I’ve found it’s the title of the post that means everything, so I keep that in mind more than ever if I want Google News to pick it up. It is sure a powerful feeling, especially when I, just a guy in his apartment, can get linked next to or above CNN, ESPN, etc. But like Darren said, with it comes responsibility (and often more criticism of the opinions expressed in the content).

  10. actionBERG says:

    There is also a Firefox extension that displays PR. Pretty nice.

    https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=262

  11. Teli says:

    Re: PR on Firefox
    The recently released Googlebar for Mozilla displays the PR of a website as it would in IE (however, it does look a bit different).

    On another note, I’ve been comparing the PR of some websites with the Google provided toolbar and the Firefox plugin and I’ve found some interesting discrepancies between the two on a few sites…hmmm…

  12. Darren Rowse says:

    Google have just released a toolbar for firefox which does it Andy

  13. Darren Rowse says:

    hehe – i think we MAY have answered Andy’s question pretty comprehensively :-)

  14. ~Dawn says:

    I wish I had the “curse” also. But I try to stay on topic and therefore, I don’t get many odd ones.

  15. Andy Merrett says:

    Yep you have, thanks guys :)

  16. Terri says:

    I hope that “a long story for another day” is soon. I’d be really interested in reading about it, and I’m sure many of your other regular readers would be too.

  17. Tom Hanna says:

    One of the top search phrases on my political blog is “hot lebanese chicks” and various variations because of a post I did during the Cedar Revolution this spring. Since the post was very short and didn’t address any real issues, I don’t actually get much traffic on the substance of the revolution, just my passing mention that the girls in the news reports looked great. Followup commenters decided to educate me on the virtues of Egyptian and other Arab women, too, so now I get results for hot girls of all sorts of nationalities. Hopefully this comment shares the wealth with you a bit on those search phrases. :)

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