Diary of a Webmaster
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January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008



Google Sandbox Effect, Blackhat SEO, Google Adsense Channels

Google Sandbox Effect

March 1st 2008

Traffic from google has almost completely dried up! Is it the Google sandbox effect?!
My site still appears when I search on google by "site:griddler.co.uk" - which indicates that everything is still indexed. But when I search on any of my key phrases I get no results! When I search for a phrase which is specific to the site, I can get a result - for example doing: "site:griddler.co.uk 'every day a free nonogram puzzle'" will return one result. But searching on the phrase without the 'site' prefix returns no results.
My first thoughts are 'oh no - i've been banned from google' accompanied by mild panic - but after reading a few blogs I start to relax. It appears that the site is suffering from the 'google sandbox' phenomenon - or what Google call 'site ageing' filter. Other people call it the 'new site boost'. It seems that the majority of new websites (at least those created since 2004) have a period when they are between 2 to 6 months old when they don’t appear in google keyword searches. There are lots of theories, but most people think it is googles way of trying to prevent spammers from setting up multiple short-term websites (to make quick short-term money before they get banned by black-hat SEO practices). These articles help to explain it a little better:

The impact of the google sandbox can be seen in the keyword searches monitored for my site on Google WebMaster tools:
Rankings before the sandbox...
Rankings after the sandbox...

March 2nd 2008

Relieved that I had taken the time to raise site profile and create banklinks with related sites two months ago - as this is the only source of website traffic for now. I am thinking more broadly about new websites... would i see the same effect if I started a new website? To test the theory I have started creating a generic wordsearching website, which I'll host on a separate sub-domain. the content is too specific to fit in the griddler website anyway.

.NET 2.0 Speeds up your Productivity

March 3rd 2008

Created the bulk of the wordsearch site this evening - the graphics are created on-the-fly - relatively painlessly using GDI .NET. Also they ability to send emails (and images embedded in e-mails) is much improved in .NET 2.0. With a combination of master pages and VS2008 refactoring the site literally flew together. End-to-end it was put together much more quickly than the griddler.co.uk site which was written in .NET 1.1. I'm definitely a .Net 2.0 convert.
I've decided just to use Google Adsense on the wordsearch site - no Amazon Associates program this time. This seems easiest option given that the google adsense chooses all the adverts for your site based on the site content which means practically no work for the website administrator.

Google Adsense Channels

March 4th 2008

This evening I looking at how to monitor traffic / adsense revenue from the new wordsearch web site. It will be on a subdomain but I need to make sure I can monitor revenues separately from the main site. Fortunately Google Adsense lets you set up multiple 'Channels' which enable you to do this. You can choose to split revenue monitoring by url, or by customised advert type. In order to monitor www.griddler.co.uk separately from www.word-search-world.griddler.co.uk I simply set up channels for those urls. You need to be careful not to specify griddler.co.uk without the 'www' - or it will include all the traffic for the subdomains as well.

Creation and Indexing of a Website

March 5th 2008

Word Search World is launched. The site as free word searches, a word search generator, and the ability to send customisable word-search e-cards. I'm hoping this last idea will be a bit more unusual and may generate more traffic from the puzzling community.

March 6th 2008

Word Search World is submitted to Google and Yahoo. It will be interesting to see if it gets indexed as quickly as the parent griddler.co.uk site. I am assuming that the subdomain won't be affected by the google sandbox on the griddler.co.uk site - but who knows... also there is some debate about whether subdomains rank as highly as top level domains in the search engine results... time will tell!

March 9th 2008

The home page of Word Search World is now indexed by Google and can be located by searching Google on 'site:word-search-world.griddler.co.uk'

March 10th 2008

The links page and the e-card page of Word Search World are now indexed by Google. (not seeing any hits in Analytics yet though). I'm not going to make any effort to get back-links to this site. To see if it prevents it getting sand-boxed.

Computers playing Computers - a Game Robot

March 11th 2008

The remaining pages of Word Search World are now indexed by Google.
Getting high levels of hits from other sites and not relying on search engines, is obviously key to a sites success. A colleague of mine said today 'we need robots'. Another colleague replied 'robots will take over the world!'. For at least 10 minutes the topic of conversation centred on robots, rather than work. I remember an application I wrote some time ago - whereby the computer plays a game on the internet by taking screen shots of a browser window, working out the positions of objects in the window and then emulating mouse clicks in the window, so that the computer was basically playing the game. I think people will really like this. Anyone who plays that game on line will want to see a computer trying to play it. Developers will be interested in the code. People into automation and robots etc will like it because it looks intelligent. People could download the applications and code. It could be a really good one for getting links.

Using SiteMaps to help Search Engines

March 12th 2008

This diary and the lightning break robot site have been submitted to Google index, along with sitemaps. I am using plain-text sitemaps - simply a plain text document in the root of the website called sitemap.txt, submitted to google via webmaster tools. More complex sitemaps can be developed in XML format - according to the XML sitemap standard.  
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