Google Blog Search Sucks

Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
Randy Savicky
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Google Blog Search Sucks

Google Blog Search sucks and here's why. First, it is cluttered with spammy MFA (Made for Adsense) blogs that often aggregate (steal) content from legitimate blogs. I used to use Google Blog Search to see who was linking to my blog and to track any interesting blog conversations. Now, if I want to track any blog conversations I stick with Technorati.com and Techmeme.com. The spam on Google Blog Search has gotten so bad and so many blogs are stealing my content, that apparently as of a few months ago, Google delisted all TMCNet blogs, perhaps as a result of a "duplicate content" filter being tripped by these sploggers. (See my articles on splogs here, here, and here)

At first, I didn't care Google Blog Search wasn't listing TMC's blogs, since I didn't think anyone really used Google Blog Search. But Rich Tehrani, my boss forwarded me an article saying how referral traffic from Google Blog Search was growing and he wanted me to try and figure out why Google removed us from Google Blog Search. So I went to Google Blog Search "About page" to see if I could figure out why. The first thing I wanted to determine is what Google considers a "blog".

According to the Google page, it says:
"Which blogs are included in Blog Search?

The goal of Blog Search is to include every blog that publishes a site feed (either RSS or Atom). It is not restricted to Blogger blogs, or blogs from any other service

It certainly seems like blogs on the blog.tmcnet.com domain fit this description. So the next question is if you are running a legit blog, what is the proper way of getting listed on Google Blog Search? The answer according to Google is, "If your blog publishes a site feed in any format and automatically pings an updating service (such as Google Blog Search Pinging Service), we should be able to find and list it. Also, we will soon be providing a form that you can use to manually add your blog to our index, in case we haven't picked it up automatically. Stay tuned for more information on this." Great, all you need is a feed (RSS).

I see a Wiki (not a blog) http://www.voip-info.org/wiki/ listed on Google Blog Search. It's a Wiki - how is that a blog?  I also see EETimes, a CMP publication which is clearly not a blog, so Google doesn't seem to be very stringent in their requirements. Seems like anyone with an RSS feed can get on Google Blog Search.

According to Google, the link to ping is http://blogsearch.google.com/ping/RPC2, however I was already pinging http://blogsearch.google.com/ping/RPC2 since this was already added to my Movable Type configuration. At a loss as to what to do next, I decided to contact Google Blog Search using the email address they published online.I knew this was a shot in the dark at best, since sometimes Google responds, and sometimes they don't. I can't entirely blame Google since they must get thousands of requests each day from people complaining about everything from being delisted to lower rankings, etc. Still, TMCNet.com is a very respected web domain with a ~3000 Alexa ranking, so perhaps Google would respond to my query.

They've responded to me a few times in the past, but I have to say, they seem to have gotten worse over time. In any case, I wrote to Google using the contact info from the About page and didn't hear anything back. I waited a month and emailed them again - still no response. I tried a third time - still no dice. What's a person gotta do, kneel before the almighty Google Zod / God?

I'm surprised Google published the email address online since no doubt spambots will pick it up and spam the hell outta this email address. My legit email is probably lost somewhere in the middle of 10,000 spam emails.

Update: They literally JUST switched their About page to a Contact form. I no longer see the email address published. At first I thought I was going crazy and imagined it since it's been awhile since I last contacted Google Blog Search. But I went to the Google cache dated May 18th and you can see the email address listed on this screenshot:
Google Blog Search Contact email address

In any event, I then tried using Google's Webmaster Tools, since according to Matt Cutts (aka GoogleGuy), the tools can help you discover any problems with your website and many (but not all) Google penalties being applied. As an example, Matt talked about a banned site in another post and explained, "...we started flagging this site as penalized in Google's webmaster console. I believe that Google is the only search engine that will confirm to webmasters that their site does have penalties. No, we don't confirm penalties if we think it might clue in web spammers that they've been caught. But yes, we do try to confirm penalties if we think a site is legitimate or has been hacked. You can read more about how we confirm penalties in this previous post."

Well, I checked Webmaster Tools and all of the sitemaps display "no errors".

At this point, I think I've all but given up on getting into Google Blog Search. Ironically, I see several of my fellow VoIP bloggers in Google Blog Search, including Andy Abramson, Om, Alec Saunders, Asterisk Blog, and a ton more. If interested to test to see if you are listed on Google Blog Search you can use the link: or blogurl: commands. I prefer the blogurl: command since it only returns results from that specific domain where as the link: command shows blogs linking TO you. So to test your blog, you would do something like this on Google Blog Search:

blogurl:http://www.domain.com

As seen by my search, my blog returns zilch:
blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch?hl=en&q=blogurl:blog.tmcnet.com&btnG=Search+Blogs

When I do the link: command I see a ton of MFA (Made for Adsense) blogs, including this aggregator - http://avoipblog.info that has aggregated my blog, Rich Tehrani's blog, and VoIPNow.org. This site, avoipblog.info is using full body content (not excerpts), which means my entire blog content shows up on their website. In theory, Google is supposed to give more weight to the site with more PageRank and credibility, but obviously these MFA sites are still getting traffic somehow. Take a look at this screenshot showing this MFA in action - every single one of these stories is mine:



So let me get this straight - this MFA (aka Mother F'n Ass-h**e) gets on Google Blog Search and my PageRank 7 site can't? This is why Google Blog Search sucks. I still love Google, especially their web search results, but their webmaster tools for tracing problems leaves a lot to be desired and I won't even attempt to describe their customer service. Though to be fair, Google isn't alone in hiding behind their web servers and making it difficult to reach a live customer support person. Yahoo, MSN, and other search engines are equally difficult to reach a real live person.

If Yahoo or MSN want to gain market share on Google and win the search wars, my suggestion to them would be to invest in a call center that can accept calls -- including VoIP calls -- from webmasters to resolve these kinds of issues.

If phone calls are too expensive (due to the phone charges or the labor), then perhaps a simple online trouble-ticket system could be deployed. This would allow a search engine to track each user's issue and force the case to be handled within a timely manner - such as forcing the agent to close a case within 1-week. That would go a long way to improving customer service.

To prevent spam they could force users to register or even better, since TMC is both a Google Adwords & Adsense customer, Google can use TMC's registered Google account. Heck, we're a paying customer bringing revenue to Google, so they should at least offer the courtesy of some sort of reply from Google as to why TMC's blogs are not included. Wishful thinking perhaps... Ah well, at least TMC's blogs rank pretty well in the SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages).

Update: They resolved the problem!
Google Blog Search Doesn't Suck?


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