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Blogs And The Content Warning

For many years, using "Next Blog" for surfing through the Blogosphere has been a dodgy activity.

No matter when you surfed, you were sure to find something pretty nasty, and frequently hazardous to the health of your computer (and maybe to you).

In January 2008, that changed. Blogger started scanning blogs for undesirable content, and blocked many nasty blogs from being targeted by "Next Blog" surfing. Besides using automated blog scanning, they also provided a voluntary classification of our blogs.

Not all potential readers will be encouraged, when seeing a content warning.

If someone genuinely wants to host possibly offensive content, he can do that - inaccessible from "Next Blog" or casual surfing, and behind a warning page.

In some cases, this is a voluntary classification, accessible from Settings - Other - "Adult Content". In other cases, this warning is applied to your blog by a faceless bot, similar to the much hated anti-spam bots.

The "Content Warning" screen, that your readers are now faced with, every time they surf to your blog, has its downsides.

The warning does not block the spiders - though it does limit indexed content.

One of the problems of the "Content Warning" screen is that the search engine spiders, when they index the blog, pick up the text of the warning, rather than the blog name and description.

When you look at the search hits that include such a blog, that's what you will see. That won't be good for your reader confidence, unless they expect to see objectionable content, anyway.

Even though a blog is behind a "Content Warning", though, it is still being indexed.

You can use Search Console to understand this better. If there is any problem with indexing the web site (blog), a GWT / SC report will help you sort that.

The warning also interferes with crawling redirected blogs.

Another interstitial warning comes with redirected blogs, published to either a custom domain (sometimes), or to an external server by FTP (frequently).

The Content Warning interstitial advice also appears to interfere with private blog access. If you have a restricted access blog, you may want to avoid involvement with the interstitial warning, voluntary or involuntary.

And recently, we've noted that it degrades the quality of information from visitor meters.

One popular feature of better visitor meters is the ability to see what web page your visitors are coming from (the "referer"). When the interstitial warning page is displayed ahead of the blog, it is shown as the referer page, and you lose the ability to tell what actual web site your visitors really come from.

All that aside, remember one detail - just because a blog is indexed, in the search engine of your choice, does not guarantee it good visibility, in a search hit list. A search hit list indexes web pages in order of popularity.

If your blog covers a popular topic, through no fault of yours, other more popular web sites may appear in the list above yours. If the description of your blog, in the search hit list, shows simply the interstitial text, you may not get as many new readers, as you would hope for.

Content Warning Some readers may find the content of this blog objectionable. In general, Google does not review nor do we endorse the content of this or any blog.

That warning doesn't tell people anything useful about your blog. Less readers = less reputation with the search engines - and less readers still.

So, if you have a Content Warning in your blog, you may lose search engine reputation, and you may not see your newer posts listed in the search hit lists as promptly. But check Google Webmaster Tools, to see if there's actual indexing problems. Chances are - there's not.


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