Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Redemption two-step

An Idea arrived via email a little while ago: "Why don't you try negotiating with Google," he said, "and telling them that you haven't done anything that's against the Google rules, and ask for your blog's page rankings to be reinstated?"

Well ... okay. It's worth a shot, and I'm trying it. The first step is to register the URL (done) and then verify the URL (done), which is a far different process from verifying a website. For those of you who have blogs at Blogger, it works like this...

You log into your account at Google, pull up your webmaster tools and register the site; that part is easy. Verification is more complex. They give you a meta tag, and have you paste it into the header tags of your site's homepage, upload it, and then click the "verify" button.

Now, if you have a blog hosted by a third party (Google owns Blogger, incidentally; so it's not really a third party; it just seems to be), you have no homepage, and no way to upload any file of yours to the Blogger root directory. So, if you're puzzled, don't feel too bad. Until very recently there was no way to verify a blog with Google, which meant that if anything went from between your blog and the Big G, you were, essentially, screwed.

Eventually, Goog brought in a compromise. What you do is, copy Goog's meta tag onto the clipboard, go into the "edit html" routine in the "layout" section of your blog's dashboard ... paste it into the css template, and save that. Then you go back to Goog and click the "verify" button ... and pray, if you know how to.

Intimidated yet? Confused? Not half as confused and frustrated as you're going to be when you follow the instructions to the letter, and it doesn't work. So you do it over ... and over ... and over. Two days ago, I went through the process 40 times: nada. Zip. No joy. Every time I clicked on the "verify" button at Goog, it gave me a "404," tag not found ... even though Blogger had reported the template saved. Yurk. [air becomes blue haze as cussing and swearing commences]

I actually gave up on the process, and then, this morning, some whim made me give it a shot again, and -- you guessed -- it went through on the first attempt. Site Verified.

So, at this moment, The World According to Mel has been registered and verified, and apparently I can now submit a reconsideration request. Reading through their webmaster's rules at Goog was interesting: I haven't done anything at all against the rules -- except maybe (and it's an outside chance, a real guess in the dark) that damned Pingomatic thing, which was recommended by a blogging guru.

So, the gist of the message I'll be sending to Google shortly will be, "Is it Pingomatic that's the problem? I used it 3 times, on the recommendation of an online guru -- I stopped using it ten days ago when my blog traffic lurched to a shuddering stop -- ie., I guessed something was wrong; if this is what's upset Google, at least confirm to me what the problem was, acknowledge that I don't use it any longer, rap my knuckles some more, and I'll be happy to help spread the word about NOT using Pingo-bloody-matic! And that's also the last time I listen to self-styled web gurus."

At this point, I'm actually hoping to be able to save this blog ... simply because I like it the way it is. Obviously, if the Big G tells me something terminally damaging has happened (ie., I did something I have no idea about, and it's Sudden Death), then we'll chalk it up to experience, go on to other projects and try again. As I said a while ago, I'll delete this blog utterly, wait for the Google index to redraw itself, and then repost the contents page by page to a new blog. Ouch. But it's a way to salvage six months' worth of work...

At this point, I'm very glad I did my blog with Blogger, because there's no such ability to fiddle with and save your css sheet at Wordpress. I'd have been looking all over the www for a way to verify a Wordpress site. At Blogger, it was a confounding, infuriating, confusing fiddle-about. Like trying to set up your own ignition timing.

But --

Let's take this for a spin and see what happens. I'll let you know.


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