Many people may have already witnessed their personal websites climb the Google Search ranks and with zero heads-up, suddenly go AWOL from the results page – and this morning, thus was the case for Digg.
Earlier today, not only did searching for Digg reveal the absence of its official website, explicitly looking up their actual domain would have led you to the above dead-end. The issue has since been corrected, and Digg.com reindexed, but it once again opened our eyes to the fact that anybody can be deindexed by Google.
Google is by far the most trusted portal for any sort of information on the World Wide Web, and any website whose domain suddenly goes missing from the search engine is likely quick to panic. So why Digg? The whole “glitch” answer aside, there are some possibilities we can’t help but discuss.
The controversial and conspiracy-laden
Like a couple getting over a bad breakup, maybe Google is only trying to move on; only it’s been five years since the Internet giant reportedly offered to acquire Digg – a social media sharing website which was then in the pinnacle of its popularity – for a cool $200 million, so that’s probably not the main reason (besides, Google hired Digg Founder Kevin Rose, didn’t they?). Could it be the fact that Digg was one of the first opportunists to try and replace Google Reader, which is scheduled to pull the plug this July, or is it just a coincidence? Honestly, none of these are likely – but the fact that you’re even entertaining theories like these means anything is possible. Google has cut down competitors before.
The highly likely
Digg’s newest facelift, unlike its earlier ones, appears to be working – their users have doubled since August of last year, and it can certainly pave their way back to the cream of the Internet crop. However, it may take a while for them to make up for their past transgressions, such as failed redesign attempts that angered many of its users. Many believe that the earlier Google search snub may be an SEO-related penalty, and taking into consideration how Digg works (by fostering link sharing) and the fact that it’s happening to other companies, too, we’re inclined to agree. In fact, when Google issued its Penguin update, Digg was hurt. Digg has not yet responded to our request for comment.
How to remain in Google’s universe and avoid deletion
Anyone who covets a good spot on Google Search results should review Google’s quality guidelines, which basically tells you what not to do if you want your website kept in Google’s massive index.
- If you’re planning to game the system and increase your ranking, don’t. “A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee,” according to the guidelines posted on Google. “Another useful test is to ask, ‘Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?’”
- Sure, keywords are important, but don’t intentionally post auto-generated content that’s chock full of them. It’s not good for your reader (who will be annoyed) or for you (who will be subject for de-indexing).
- Don’t buy or sell links. Don’t make promises like “you link me, and I’ll link you.” Don’t post links that lead to spam content. Don’t cloak or use fake redirects. Basically, don’t abuse the power of links or PageRank.
- Don’t be sneaky or manipulative.
- Don’t be a thief – come up with unique content.
Looks like Digg’s deletion from Google’s index this morning was not meant to be a slap in the face; it was actually an accident. “We’re sorry about the inconvenience this morning to people trying to search for Digg,” a Google spokesperson stated. “In the process of removing a spammy link on Digg.com, we inadvertently applied the Webspam action to the whole site. We’re correcting this, and the fix should be deployed shortly.” What was Digg General Manager Jake Levine’s response to this mishap? “The good news is that it doesn’t really impact us all that much,” Levine commented, according to a report by CNET. “The vast majority of our traffic is direct (like 90 percent) so it’s not a huge deal for us from a business or user perspective.”