Saturday, 4 February 2012

Why did I lose all my +1's, facebook likes, tweets and other social stats in blogger?

88 comments
 



Something strange happened yesterday. While browsing through my posts, I noticed that all my +1's, facebook likes, tweets, reddits etc were gone. I mean even if I had 30 shares of a particular post on facebook, the facebook counter was set to Zero. 

Have a look at this. For the same post i.e. http://digital-worldz.blogspot.com/2011/07/7-coolest-google-im-feeling-lucky.html, here are the stats for yesterday


Instead of,


Now if you use blogger's free blogspot domain for your blog, you must have noticed something similar. The other weird thing that I noticed today was that I was seeing a blogspot.in Url, instead of the blogspot.com Url for my blog. So when I tried to visit http://digital-worldz.blogspot.com, I was automatically redirected to http://digital-worldz.blogspot.in


And it didn't take much time to realize that this was the cause for all the mishappenings.


So why did this happen?? 

Here's why. In an effort to continue promoting free expression and responsible publishing, Google has decided to redirect all blogspot.com domains to there country specific url's. So if you live in India, all blogspot blogs you try to visit will be redirected to the Indian version of the site i.e the .in domain. 

Here's the official statement by google on this:

Now this explains why the 31 likes, I had on that post were gone. Those 31 likes were for the URL, 
http://digital-worldz.blogspot.com/2011/07/7-coolest-google-im-feeling-lucky.html 
While what I am seeing now is the Indian version for this post i.e 
http://digital-worldz.blogspot.in/2011/07/7-coolest-google-im-feeling-lucky.html
The fact that people shared the .com version and not the .in version explains this behavior.




How To Get Rid Of this??

If you would like to see the default .com version for your blog instead of the .in version you could use the NCR url. NCR stands for “No Country Redirect” and will always display the .com version, whether you’re in India, Brazil, Honduras, Germany, or anywhere. To do this type your blog name followed by "/ncr"(make sure you don't type it in CAPS)

For ex: Lets say you have a blog "http://xyz.blogspot.com", then to avoid the redirection type "http://xyz.blogspot.com/ncr" in the browser. 

Note that even though you will not be redirected to the .in version after using this command, but other users will still be redirected to there country specific domains. There is no way to avoid this. The only thing you could do to get rid of this is to buy a Custom Domain and redirect your blog to the new domain. 


Effects on SEO due to the redirection:

The fact that the same content is now hosted in different domains means that it could severely effect the SEO of your blog. We all know that blogger sucks for SEO and this could make the condition even worse. Here's what Google has to say about this:

"After this change, crawlers will find Blogspot content on many different domains. Hosting duplicate content on different domains can affect search results, but we are making every effort to minimize any negative consequences of hosting Blogspot content on multiple domains.
The majority of content hosted on different domains will be unaffected by content removals, and therefore identical. For all such content, we will specify the blogspot.com version as the canonical version using rel=canonical. This will let crawlers know that although the URLs are different, the content is the same. When a post or blog in a country is affected by a content removal, the canonical URL will be set to that country’s ccTLD instead of the .com version. This will ensure that we aren’t marking different content with the same canonical tag."

While it does sound convincing, there is something else you could do to avoid SEO issues.

Go to your blogger dashboard, then design and then click on edit HTML. Click on expand widget templates. Now do a search for the <head> tag. Immediately below the tag enter the following piece of code.
<link expr:href="data:blog.canonicalUrl" rel="canonical"/>
This is a canonical tag that tells the search engines to consider the .com URL as the original content. Credit-Labnol.org

This would make sure that Google could identify the original content and would not penalize your blog.


Final Verdict:

Although I do agree that something like this could be necessary, due to the ongoing pressure by the government from different countries, doing so without any prior warning or any official announcement isn't right. It took me a lot of time to find out the reason for all the weird things that were happening to my blog. I would take it as another reason to buy a custom domain or move on to wordpress. 


What about you??

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