Sometimes people don’t want their blogs to be easy to find, and WordPress offers a way to do that. For a lot of bloggers, we’re looking for exactly the opposite. While asking search engines not to search your blog isn’t going to be directly relevant to everyone, it explains why sometimes you might be having a hard time finding a blogger.
By default, WordPress lets search engines know when you’ve published something new on your blog. Web crawling bots will swing by and have a look around. While there’s a wide variety of assorted helpful and malicious bots that are busy around the web, there would be no search engines without search engine bots crawling the web to find out what’s out there.
You can tell WordPress that you’d prefer that search engine bots not include your posts/pages in search results. This is done under My Sites > Settings > General, in the privacy section, and is shown in the screenshot below. Beneath where it says Public, you can tick the box for “do not allow search engines to index my site.”
While it says “do not allow,” it’s more of an ask than a hard no. WordPress says:
Do not allow search engines to index my site. If you want all human visitors to be able to see your site but don’t want your site to appear in search engines, this option will block most web crawlers for search engines. Please note, however, that not all search engines respect this setting.
While self-hosted blogs have more flexibility to play around with their site’s code and mark specific posts/pages as no-index, for most WordPress.com bloggers, you’re looking at an all or nothing proposition.
So, that’s how it’s done, but what does it actually mean? A couple of bloggers I know have gone this route and I haven’t actually asked them why they chose that.
Besides not being included in search engine results, a non-indexed blog is also kept out of WordPress Reader search results. This also includes searches by tag. If I follow a no-index blog, new posts will turn up in my Reader feed, but if I’m trying to actually track down the blog, I may have to go back to one of my posts they’ve commented on to track them down. Since I do most of my reading in the Reader, I don’t necessarily remember people’s URLs.
I would imagine that not being searchable in the Reader makes it a great deal harder to grow one’s blog. I’m not saying that it’s a bad choice, but giving up Reader exposure seems like it could be a significant downside. If the only way people can find you is through comments that you’ve left on other people’s blogs, that really limits the ability to attract new readers.
If your blog isn’t indexed by search engines, search engine optimization (SEO) strategies become rather pointless. Using tags for your posts can help with organization within your site, but they won’t help anyone else find you.
Have you ever taken steps to make your blog harder to find in any way?