That Time Google Penalized Me

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Lately I've been having a difficult time blogging.  Honestly I know it's just a dry spell - this happens to me probably once a year, so it's not unusual (I'm not going to quit blogging!).  I've just been feeling a bit discouraged and uninspired.

And then on the weekend I discovered that one of my pages (that was bringing me a significant amount of search traffic) seems to have been penalized by Google's algorithm.  Meaning, my page rank for that specific post is lower, and it's no longer showing up in searches!  This was a big deal to me, because like I said, I got quite a bit of traffic from just that one post.

After frantically searching the internet for possibly causes for the penalty I made sure that my page was squeaky clean and then I went through and emailed the owners of some spammy websites asking them to take down their links to my site (spammy links can hurt you with Google).  But I was feeling pretty discouraged and overwhelmed.  It's as if all my hard work for that traffic was just erased.  Practically speaking, I can't get every single unnatural link taken down from these bogus websites - maybe if I had a full time staff for the blog, but it's just me.  

So after staying up until 2:00 AM on Sunday trying to figure this out I wasn't even sure if any of that work was going to fix the problem, since I can't be positive what it was that caused me to get a penalty.  

I still dragged myself out of bed for church though, and as I was sitting there in the aisle listening to the music I felt like the Lord reminded me of something.

Why am I blogging anyway?  I have always wanted this blog to first be a place to share with others what the Lord is teaching me, as well as a place to just record everyday life stuff that my kids might like to read someday.  

It's easy to lose sight of that purpose when I'm staring at visits and pageviews and backlinks, when the focus of blogging as a whole seems to have shifted to product reviews and paid posts and blog sponsors.  

And is it nice to get a product for review or a little extra spending money?  Sure.  Is it nice to have your post show up on the first page of Google and get lots of extra visitors per month?  Yeah, it is.  

But is that really why I'm blogging?  No.

Honestly, my biggest hope for this blog is that it will point others to Jesus and ultimately bring glory to Him.  I forgot one of the reasons I enabled search engines to find my blog in the first place - I wanted to open it up to searches hoping that more people would find their way here and see something about Jesus that would get them thinking.  

The Lord knows that, even when I forget it.  If He feels like the right people, the people who are supposed to find my blog will find it without that post showing up high in search results, then maybe it has served it's purpose and it's time for me to move on.  He'll still make sure the right people find me.  He doesn't need Google.

I think I might just have forgotten that this blog is not supposed to be a place to bring glory to me.  And if I'm honest, that's part of the reason I was upset about that post being penalized, because I felt sorry that my good idea wouldn't be front and center anymore.  This blog is not supposed to only be something that will make me money or boost my own self esteem.   It's not even all about the blogging community (as much as I love you guys!).  

If that's all I'm doing here, if those things become my focus, I'm going to get discouraged, Google penalties would be the end of the world, I'm going to compare myself too much to other blogs, and I'm going to get burned out. 

This blog is supposed to be a place to bring glory to God. And the Lord knew it might take a little ding from Google to remind me of that.

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Rachel said...

There are lots of us who LOVE your blog even if it's not google ranked #1!

I struggle with this too - part of me wants to get sponsors and earn money through blogging and have lots of hits (who doesn't like the ego boost?!) but in reality I don't like the pressure it brings. I want blogging to be fun not another chore to add to my to-do list!

Like you I pray that God will use my blog and I trust that he'll provide the sponsors/ads etc if that's his will :)

Whitney said...

I agree with Rachel's first line up there. I like your posts that are about the day to day anyways, the review/money stuff is fine, but not what I read for! :)

Brittany F said...

This is so insightful and honest. Thanks for sharing. You're an awesome inspiration.

Brittney Galloway said...

I'm so sorry friend, I know how discouraging that kind of thing can be. I think looking at it like this can help to shed light on the situation though.

Melanie said...

I love your blog Callie!!! Your right though..sometimes in the whirlwind of all things blogger..its easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of wanting more pageviews, etc..but we all just have to keep it real and blog for the reasons that first brought us here!

Amanda said...

I'm so sorry about that! I love your blog and I love your honesty and openness about your faith! I agree - I want to make sure that people know first and foremost my faith in God but I know I can also share the crazy things Mallory is doing now. I know my blog will never be anything big to other people but it's my space and I know I'll be glad to look back later on and be glad I wrote things down. It's my journal - just online :)

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I think we all have dry seasons and seasons of discouragement when we struggle with anxiety about our readers and stats. I'm in a season right now when I want to blog, but I don't seem to have time. Thank you for a sweet reminder of WHY I'm blogging!

Elizabeth said...

I'm not sure if I understand the whole ranking/money part of blogging, but I enjoy your reflective posts.

Lauren Chick said...

I love your blog!

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