Earlier this year I accidentally blocked search engines from my blog. Want to see what that looks like?
It looks like this:
I realised way too late and recovery didn’t start immediately. You can see that search referrals eventually picked up after I fixed the problem, but it appears to be levelling out and may never quite reach its former level. (we shall see). For the record, my overall traffic is up.
Continuing the theme of stating the obvious – other traffic sources were unaffected, but with 75% of my traffic coming from Search that’s quite a dent.
Learnings and postulations
The obvious lesson to WordPress bloggers is be sure to enable (and don’t accidentally disable) the WordPress option under Settings > Privacy that says “Allow search engines to index this site”. I managed this incredible feat by disabling it on a local development machine (for no good reason) and importing the entire database to my live site. (oops).
It’s interesting to note that Search referrals didn’t stop completely during the blind spot. According to Google Web Master Tools my links simply got less ‘impressions’. Their click-through rates remained pretty much the same as their pre-fail levels.
The site was well and truly indexed before search engines were blocked. I suppose that if Google* can’t refresh its index for a page it won’t remove it; just decimate its ranking. It also seems to take quite a few weeks of crawling to up it again.
(*other search engines are available)