This post is part of a series:
- Part I: I’m Shadow Banned by DuckDuckGo (and Bing)
- Part II: Updates on my Bing ban
- Part III: My Bing Webmaster Guidelines Compliance Report
Today I bring good news: We solved the mystery! Bing now indexes my site and it shows up on DuckDuckGo… and it’s possible your site is showing up now too. What fixed it? Here’s what Microsoft/Bing told me a couple days after my post…
Thousands of small blogs were mistakenly marked as spam splogs. Wasn’t specific to yours.
Woah. It’s done. That’s it. I’m released from SEO jail. Thanos snapped. Temba, his arms wide. Jubilee.
This whole experience is a lot to digest, but I think there’s one important lesson here…
Blog your problems
That’s it. That’s the biggest lesson. Blog your problems. When in doubt, blog it out. In my experience, one of three outcomes is probably going to happen:
- You’ll solve your problem while writing out your problem (Best)
- Someone responds who knows how to solve your problem (Great)
- No one responds and you learn you have a unique problem (Less great, but novel)
I almost didn’t post about my Bing SEO issue because I didn’t want to come across as whiny and entitled, like those cringe Senators that grill Google employees on why their tweets get less likes. But this is another case where blogging my problems1 paid off in spades.
I got a lot of good SEO advice and tips from people, thank you. That said, I came away feeling like SEO still isn’t super scientific. “Use this tag” or “Don’t do this weird combination of HTML” SEO-tricks probably have an impact, but advice hits me like “Be sure to arrange the energy crystals on your homepage in a certain way.” There’s a lot of cargo culting2 when it comes to SEO, performing certain acts in hopes the SEO gods will return favorably.
If I did anything within my agency to help the situation, I believe the following three tasks helped:
- Sign up for Bing Webmaster Tools
- Verifying my site
- Clear out any crawl errors
Knowing what Bing sees and expects means I can provide that basic level of service in exchange for indexed links. This situation was a bit unique, with the “splog” ordeal, but Bing and I have a transactional relationship now instead of a ritualistic relationship hoping for divine providence. Thankfully, my well-being doesn’t live or die by search rankings.
Can we take a minute and imagine what it’d be like running a search engine‽ What an impossible task! Billions of websites and you’re constantly at war with spam farms, hostile state-sponsored disinformation campaigns, literal nazis, literal pedophiles, and literal terrorists. My niche brand of “emo tech” content is far from any of that, but the idea my site could appear algorithmically like a spam site seems in the realm of possibility. I’m impressed Bing could even fix the issue.
It truly is the Year of the Personal Website
One final thought. Amidst the background of imploding flagship Web 2.0 content silos, the importance of having your own small blog feels paramount. The Verge asked to Bring back personal blogging. Matthias Ott called it “The Year of the Personal Website”. A smile comes across my face every day as I see new sites born, fresh redesigns come to life, and dormant bloggers resurface.
I want more personal sites to exist in the world. If running your own blog is too much, you can still bring back blogging by starting a blogging co-op with your friends (that’s how I started). You can also write for blogs that pay money. Not because there can be money in blogging, but because there’s no replacement for using language to connect one human being to another. Let’s get back to the original slogal of the World Wide Web, “Let’s share what we know”.
In all the shifting sands, mass layoffs, singularities, and crumbling silos; it might be more important than ever to invest time to establish your voice and have a hub for yourself.
And now (hopefully) those blogs will show up on DuckDuckGo.
I want to fully acknowledge that I have a lot of privilege when it comes to blogging. Beyond the obvious like race and gender, I’ve been lucky to have 17+ uninterrupted years of doing professional web development. I do work my ass off, but I have a work situation that lets me spend cycles on blogging, podcasting, and speaking at conferences and that’s allowed me to build an audience over time, so my reach is probably greater than most. ↩
The term “cargo cult” is a bit problematic, because it implies “civilized” nations are better. If a giant, noisy, metal bird I had never seen before dropped a crate of supplies on my beach; you bet your ass I’d spend time figuring out how to make that happen again. ↩