Avoid Rank-Killing Bogons in 6 Steps

I usually don't mention my clients in this blog (it's intended for personal comments, not promoting clients) but this is an unusual circumstance, and I think you might benefit from knowing what a bogon is and how it affected them, and how it could affect you, too.

My new client, OleOle.com, is a football (soccer) news site that just launched a little while ago. SEO-wise, it's nice and clean, and on a brand new, clean IP. We showed up well on Yahoo and MS Live, but nowhere on Google. Now, I'm used to Google being the slow one lately, but it was starting to get ridiculous after a while. After some head scratching, I think I figured out what happened, and I'd like to share, in the hopes that it can help you, too.

Last year, I ran into a Bogon issue with another client, though that time the search engine affected was Yahoo. It took some time to figure things out, and it was only with the help of both Rackspace and Yahoo working together did we manage to solve it. Afterward, Mike Churchill and I wrote an article on the problem, called "Bogons Ate My Website!".

I don't want to get too deeply into what all the potential bogon issues are (read the article for that) but I do want to give you a list of what to look for to see if you may have a bogon issue.

I recently described a bogon like this:

Imagine moving into a brand new housing development that was not on any maps until this year. Now imagine that a delivery driver has last years map, and firm instructions to not deliver to, or receive deliveries from, addresses that are not on his map. Any packages that you send, or that are sent to you, will therefore be ignored. This rule is to improve efficiency and to avoid people playing tricks on the delivery men (spammers), and normally is a very good rule to have, as long as the maps are updated.

That delivery man with the outdated map is the one that Google is using. Since Yahoo and MSN are using delivery men that have updated maps, they are not having any problems.

We can’t force the deliver man to update his map, and Google can’t switch delivery men, so our only options are to either wait until (or if) the map is updated, or to move to a neighborhood (IP address) that is on the map.

Bogon Checklist

  1. Is your site not showing up in a particular search engine, or mysteriously dropping pages (and rankings)?
  2. Is the site clean (ie no spam, affiliate links, etc)?
  3. Have you eliminated DNS and robots.txt issues?
  4. Do your logs show that the search engine spider in question is visiting your site?
  5. Does the site have a new IP address, one that was recently removed from the Bogon List?

If you can answer YES to all of these questions, then you may have a bogon issue.

How to fix it: In general, I find that the best way to deal with the issue is to request a different, aged, IP address. One way to figure that out if there are no records, is to see if sites hosted on the IP's right next to the new one have been indexed by all the search engines you are worried about. If they are, then chances are your IP will be ok.


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