Google Indexing: My Balloon Loses Air

In a series of posts starting here, I’ve related my efforts to get Google to index my SmugMug photo gallery. It’s time for another update: basically, Google seems to have just pulled that cord that lets the hot air out of my balloon. I’m going down.

In my last post, I was somewhat optimistic, with 348 indexed pages, and an upward trend. Here’s what’s happened since:

I peaked at 357 and it’s been downhill since; right now I’m at 277. But what’s really been happening? It’s hard to know. I’d already realized that my SmugMug gallery was showing Google multiple URLs for the same image, and Google wasn’t impressed. So some of the decline may have been from weeding those out, and that’s probably ok. But looking at the Coverage breakout by sitemap, I see that apparently 259 of my current 277 indexed pages are from the blog site, meaning that after all this effort I have 22 gallery pages indexed – fewer than I started with a year-and-a-half ago.

I’d like to verify this number by looking at coverage from the gallery sitemap, but Google is once again telling me it can’t read it, which makes no sense. This might in fact be part of the problem, because the queue of images awaiting crawling took a huge hit recently:

It seems about 500 URLs in that queue were dumped overnight. Were they actually crawled, and rejected? Here are the numbers for “crawled, not currently indexed” -Google’s dumpster – and while they’ve gone up, they don’t begin to account for the 500:

The pile of supposed “duplicates” also increased recently, maybe that accounts for 100 of the lost 500 – at most:

So what’s going on? I have no real idea. Maybe Google recently re-crawled my SmugMug sitemap, got confused or threw an error, the result being that all those URLs are back in limbo. I’ve resubmitted the sitemap manually and will watch to see if it ever gets properly read again. But this is tedious; there’s nothing wrong with that map that I can see.

At this point, optimism is gone – it just seems like SmugMug doesn’t feed Google anything it can properly digest, and there’s no way to get a significant number of individual photos indexed. At least my dozen or so ‘gallery pages’ within my SmugMug site continue to be indexed, so people can still find my photos by searching for those topics. And a handful of individual photos have been indexed. But that’s it, out of about 700 photos.

This is going nowhere, and I’m wondering if another gallery site might do something for me that SmugMug can’t. But what I really think is that Google just doesn’t index much on a site that looks like a gallery. I have yet to hear from anyone having success at this endeavor.

Leave a comment on this post, and the URL of your site, and you’ll be rewarded with a nice SEO-juicy “dofollow” backlink.

2 Replies to “Google Indexing: My Balloon Loses Air”

  1. Interesting read thanks for posting, I have found that SM’s SEO sucks, when I first started with them photos always turned up in google searches, then that slowly stopped the same has happened to flickr. I think that SM thinks they are the google of photo searches and people will come to SM to find what they want and not search on google (thats the feeling I get) WordPress on the other hand is great for photos on google (why does SM not work like this) As you have said and done, WordPress as your front and SM just as a gallery link is the way to go. Other options….?

    1. Maybe SM is just at the mercy of Google. Or maybe there’s something they could do about this, but choose not too, or won’t spend time and money on it.
      Whatever the cause, SM should quite talking about their so-called SEO because there doesn’t seem to be much to it.

      I’ll be posting on this again in the future with some current numbers. FWIW, I recently looked into Bing’s search console, submitted my site, and Bing didn’t do any better. It indexed my top-level gallery pages but only a few individual photos.

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