Setbacks in My Art Career - Google Removed the Ranking from My Website
Choosing an art career is filled with tribulations. A profession that is intricately entwined with your ego can negatively affect your self-perception. If someone criticizes your paintings, you immediately become angry and defensive. Unless you have a hard exterior and are immune to such harsh comments, you re-examine your self-worth and can feel inadequate. My advice is always to see who is passing the judgment; are they really connoisseurs of art? Do they really possess knowledge in the field? Are they your peers? Do you really respect their opinion? Identifying these people and categorizing them properly will allow you to sort through what is valuable in the opinions and discard the unimportant parts. If they have a valid point, then take it to heart. Otherwise, ignore all negativity. My parents and siblings have never supported me in my art endeavors. My father wanted me to become an engineer like him. They have absolutely no idea what excellent art is and I have learned to turn a deaf ear to their criticisms. To this day, I don't believe they can identify my illustrations among a collection of other fantasy artists.
So talking about setbacks as an artist, the worst scenario has happened to me on the Internet. Google decided to remove the ranking on my website, sandrachang.net. I have established this url in 1996 and have had great visibility…until recently. I don't know why I lost the ranking, there was no email telling me that I violated any of the Google guidelines and there is no way to contact Google to resubmit my website for reconsideration. I lost over a week of sleep over this major dilemma. My site is still indexed but has no ranking. I checked on the Google Analytics and my site has only been searched 16 times in the last 90 days. I was not diligent and keeping track of my stats. As an after thought, I predicted that Google unranked me some time in the summer since I noticed a big drop of sales at my Etsy store at that time. I have not been doing gangbusters at Etsy before that, but I was enjoying weekly trips to the post office to fulfill orders.
I have some theories of why Google abandoned my site. I am not a webmaster expert or do I profess to be, but after searching the internet, I came across some reasons. A long time ago it was beneficial to be part of ring surf lists and sharing reciprocal links boosted your ranking. Unfortunately now, Google considers that spamming. If your website has too many links, Google's search robots will penalize your site. If a site is blacklisted on Google and it links to yours, then your site is in danger. It's guilt by association. I'm assuming this may be what happened to sandrachang.net, but the article I read about this was from several years ago. If this is the reason, it makes me surprised that Google took this long to condemn my site.
"Stress Makes Diamonds out of Graphite"
Earlier this year, there was an article about Google penalizing websites that have gateways. I had a gateway on my site because some of my artwork was erotic and I wanted to make sure the visitors were 17 or older. Perhaps they considered this undesirable. Another thought I had was that Google didn't like the adult content on my site. I can only venture to guess. I showed my website to a Godaddy technical advisor who happened to be a search engine optimization expert and he couldn't figure out what was wrong with my site. He said that the keywords were nicely peppered through out the content and he could not find any malicious code from possible hackers in my folders. Since you cannot ask Google directly, there is no way to know for certain. Not only is my site unlisted on Google, it appeared to have disappeared from all the other search engines all together. I am virtually invisible to Yahoo Search, Bing, AOL Search, etc. How did this happen?
So paraphrasing Richard Raul from the Sword of Truth novels by Terry Goodkind, "Stop thinking of the problem and start thinking of the solution." I decided to accept the fact that Google robots are no longer crawling my website. What am I going to do? Well, first is to correct the source code as best as I can on the existing sandrachang.net site in case the robots will someday return. There is no way to know for sure if all the search engines have abandoned me totally. I used the Google Search Console Guidelines and tried to ensure my code complied with their restrictions.
In case the site is dead to Google, I decided to start from scratch with a totally new site, this site, steampunkfantasyart.com. I can't take responsibility for the wonderful design, but used a template from themeforest.com. I will have to go through the pains of establishing it and resubmitting it to important search engines. So I can only do is cross my fingers and hope. It will take about three months for the engines to start crawling and I will be at the bottom of the search lists, but at least I will be visible. I have to keep reminding myself that hardships and obstacles are learning experiences. An old college friend used to tell me when times were difficult…"Stress makes Diamonds out of Graphite." I'm writing this to give myself encouragement and to keep persevering in my art career. It also helps to purge myself of this frustration by recording my thoughts down. I hope you will find strength in my little blog and remember in no matter what field you are in, whatever goals you have set for yourself, not to let obstacles deter you from striving towards your dreams.
Resources If You Think Google Has Removed Your Ranking:
Check to see if your site is blacklisted by google. This is a good resource if you are thinking of buying an existing url. You may need to check its history on search engines.
Check if your site is still indexed by Google or Bing. Being still indexed is better than being blacklisted.
Check these Google Webmaster Guidelines to see if your site has violated any of the restrictions which might cause your site to be penalized. Google recommends that you join Google Search Console and create an account. You have to verify your site with them, which requires you to know the login and password of your account with your server provider.
Submitting a Reconsideration Requests. This only works if you have received a manual action (a warning), if your site has violated any of the guidelines. Unfortunately I think it's a catch-22, you have to have an account on Search Console for Google to inform you. If you did, you can fix your site and resubmit it. If you didn't get a manual action, then there is no way for Google to reconsider your site.
The Google Webmaster Central team has live office hours in Google hangouts. Get your questions answered, and discuss webmaster topics with experts live. Perhaps you can find someone live over at Google to talk to. You have to have a webcam and headset and also join Google Hangouts to participate. I think I may try this.
Google Analytics. Sign up and add code to your website to see the number of visitors, what search words were used, the duration of the visit, the bounce rate, demographics of your viewers, and much more. I am not an webmaster expert at all, but you need to monitor the performance of your website.
Top search engines November 2015. Incase you need to resubmit your site.
I hope these links are helpful to you if you are in the same boat as me. Good luck! Let me know if you have any feedback or advice for me. I do appreciate some alternatives!