All My Theories Have Been Wrong. Fortunately!

I apologize to Google. They still like my blog.

This blog’s numbers plummeted as per Webmaster Tools, here and here you find everything you never wanted to know about it. I finally figured that my blog was a victim of Google’s latest update Panda 4.1. Sites about ‘anything’ had suffered, and the Panda rollout matched the date of the onset of the decline.

Other things happened in autumn, too: I had displayed links to latest WordPress blog posts on my other websites, but my feed parser suddenly refused to work. The root cause was the gradual migration of all WP.com blogs and feeds to https:// only. Only elkement’s blog had been migrated at that time; our German blog’s feed was affected two months later.

Recently also the German blog started its descent in impressions and clicks, again two months after elkement’s blog. I pondered about https URLs again – the correlation was too compelling. Then suddenly the answer came to me:

!

!!

!!!

You need to add the https URL as an additional site in Webmaster Tools.

!!!

!!

!

It was that simple. All the traffic I missed was here all the time – tucked away in the statistics for https://elkement.wordpress.com. This also answers the question I posed in my last Google rant post: Why do I see more Search Engine referrers in WordPress stats than clicks in Webmaster Tools? I had just looked in the wrong place.

I had briefly considered the https thing last year but ruled it out as I misinterpreted Webmaster Tools – falsely believing that one entry for a site would cover both the http and the https version. These are the results for both URLs – treated like separate entities by Webmaster Tools:

Results for http : // elkement.wordpress.com  – abysmal:

(Edit: I cannot use a link here and have to add those weird blanks – otherwise WP will always convert both URL and text to https automatically even if the prefix is displayed as http in the editor.)

Google traffic for http version of this blogResults for https://elkement.wordpress.com – better by a factor of 100: Way more Google traffic for the https version of this blog URLPopular pages were the first to ‘move’ over to the https entry. This explains why my top page was missing first from http pages impressions – the book review which I assumed to have been penalized by Panda as an alleged cross-link scam. In full paranoia mode I was also concerned of my adding random Wikimedia images to my poetry.

But now I will do it again as I feel relieved. And relaxed – as this Panda. Giant panda01 960______________________________

You have read a post in my new category Make a Fool of Myself. (I tried to top the self-sabotaging effect of writing about my business website being hacked – as a so-called security expert.)

Yet the theory was all too compelling. I found numerous examples of small sites penalized by Panda in a weird way. See this discussion: A shop’s webmaster makes a product database with succinct descriptions available online and is penalized for ‘key word spamming’ – as his key words are part of each product name. Advice by SEO experts: Circumscribe your product names.

Legend has it that Panda was named after a Google engineer. I figured it was because the Panda is so choosy, insisting on bamboo eucalyptus (*), just as Google scrutinizes our sites more and more. (*) One more theory I got wrong, now edited! Thanks to commentator Cleo for pointing out the mistake.

16 thoughts on “All My Theories Have Been Wrong. Fortunately!

  1. You remembered correctly that Panda’s are very particular about their food. The Panda’s diet consists of Bamboo. (And of course they further seek out the young, more easily digestible shoots of Bamboo.)

    It’s Koala’s – very choosy too – that eat eucalyptus leaves only.

    (Incidentally, zoologists do mention the giant Panda in lists of animals that scavenge.
    http : // www. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3911987/ )

    • Thanks! Haha, I got one more theory wrong as I confused the Koala’s eucalyptus with the Panda’s bamboo. I didn’t cross-check is as I figured those leaves on all the photos look like eucalyptus 🙂
      Will add a correction in a minute!

    • Thanks a lot …
      … as I know that you are a true scientist 🙂 Your paper on Genetic Fractals is still awaiting my undivided attentions – but your theories are more elaborate than my playing with Google, so it may take a while 😉 It’s awesome that you published a serious research paper as a side-project!!

      • Thanks Elkement. I like to do crazy things and writing a serious maths paper feels sufficiently mad. It is a form of escapism, a bit like moving to the countryside or writing random blogs. Not that I have anything to escape, but it has become a habit.

  2. Fascinating. I followed your lead and added the https versions of the two blogs I have. It makes sense now–each day numerous visits to the blogs (especially Not Banjaxed) arrive courtesy of search requests and the webmaster tools just did not recognize most of them. I gave it little thought, just assuming that the tools carried some inherent flaws. It looks like many of those requests came in through the https versions as the stats for those versions are QUITE different.
    In a somewhat related way perhaps this is the time and place for a mini rant regarding Google. Increasingly that organization knows about all aspects of my life. I do basically of my surfing through chrome whether it’s on the tablet the phone the laptop or the PC at work. I’m totally tracked and well-understood by that crowd, as evidenced by the lame ads they keep showering me with (based on past purchases and searches). One thing that increasingly irks me, though, is their involvement in the whole issue of so-called Net Neutrality. In the US there’s an undercurrent of support towards their lobbying and political efforts to preserve it. While at some level it does seem laudable–that is the idea of protecting the “fast lanes” on the net from the so-called big companies, regardless of country, transit or user, it is increasingly (infuriatingly) laughable to realize that the biggest corp of all in this thing(Google) has the most to gain from this. Currently a HUGE fraction of web traffic is about them and ensuring that they get equal access to it (instead of paying for a fast lane) benefits them far more than it does anyone else, does it not? Just a thought from someone who sees increasingly the trend toward monopolization on the internet. That which was supposed to provide a degree of equality is increasingly being gobbled up by a small number of “winner take all” companies: Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Alibaba…and so it goes.

    • Thanks for the rant, Maurice – my article was too Google-friendly this time 😉 I use Firefox or Opera hoping that would be better than Chrome or IE from ‘sniffing perspective’, but since ads follow me anywhere I started to install Adblock on any PC and any browser. In addition to banning the ads it also makes browsing much faster; on older PCs this makes a huge difference.
      Net neutrality is not yet a big topic in Europe but I fully agree – but as internet users we have to make conscious efforts to surf pages neglected by social networks and search engines… not easy.

  3. Cool. I just posted a comment for Dave lamenting how on-line writing hides our processes because most audiences want results/products only. Once again, you are subversive of the norm, and all the more power to you, Elke!

    As for the https… that process was probably the root cause of about a week’s worth of trouble and grief! I kind of noticed it happening, but didn’t. I’m glad you mentioned it, as I thought perhaps Word Press was losing it’s touch. Now I know better! 😉

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