Last last year, I decided I would make use of Google’s Webmaster tools to indicate that my blog nominally resides in Australia. Of course because it is hosted on Blogger, Google wouldn't otherwise guess this from the domain name. At the time I was curious as to what effect this would have on my PageRank.
Entering "David Gardiner" into Google does bring back lots of matches, and I'd managed to be on the first page which I was pretty happy about. I'd been quite diligent in always linking back to http://davidgardiner.blogspot.com when ever I was asked to enter website details on other sites. My UniSA staff homepage also featured prominently, so it would be interesting to see what happened after I left there and that page ceased to exist.
Things didn't seem to go well though. I'd heard Google changed their algorithms around the same time, and I noticed my blog was dropping further and further down, until it was somewhere on the third page of results.
The crazy thing through all this was that my profile on the Australian Broadband site Whirlpool always rated very high. That must show an indication of how PageRank has changed - inbound links to your page don't seem to count as much now as the significance of the site as a whole. I'm pretty sure no one is linking to my Whirlpool profile, but obviously heaps of sites link to Whirlpool in general.
So last week I thought I'd try to make some changes:
First off, I removed the "Australia" designation. Even though I liked having my blog come up in the "pages from Australia" search, I wondered if this might be counting against me?
Secondly, I modified the blog title to include my full name. It is a little bit more wordy, but hopefully it helps Google out a bit.
Finally, I reviewed the template for my blog, and found some embarrassing errors. I'd added some <meta> tags for keywords and description, but for some reason had used a 'value' instead of 'content' attribute.
I then ran the page through the W3C Validator a few times and fixed some of the errors and warnings. After all, you figure if the markup is well formed, then the search engines are going to have an easier time indexing your content. One thing this did show was that Blogger is generating some invalid markup (eg. not properly encoding ampersands in URLs). It would be nice if they would fix that.
So with those changes done I thought I'd do another search today and see how I'm doing... Not too bad it seems - I'm now back on the first page of results - currently coming in 6th (with my Whirlpool profile 1st!)
Maybe as a further experiment, I'll go back and add back "Australia" as a geographic target in a few months, to see if that really did make a difference.