What Google Takes Away, Google Gives Back

At the end of last year Google did something with its page rank algorithm that caused my site to loose most traffic from Google. I thought the problem was due to excessive load times on my site. I used Pingdom to narrow the load times to a javascirpt from a WordPress contact form plugin. The javascript took about 4 seconds to load and was loading on every page, including pages that did not have the contact form.

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Once disabled the load times were down to a more reasonable level, although they have crept back up according to Google Webmaster Tools. As far as I can tell it’s images causing the load times. It was a good exercise for me to understand load times but it was a change made completely on Google’s part that caused the loss in traffic. The site not only got the traffic back but it increased a little. Also, when the traffic did come back the site had a significant increase in comment spam, so much that I had to turn off comments for certain posts.

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Meanwhile, I took a much need break from the blog and completely ignored everything (except approving comments) and missed that TechCrunch linked to one of my pages. Causing a nice spike in traffic.

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500 Internal Server Error

Last night around 11 pm MST greginthedesert.net went into a “500 Internal Server Error” state. The main WordPress page or admin pages were unresponsive. My first real issue since going with real web hosting about 3 weeks ago. Even though I hadn’t messed with WordPress since the morning, I assumed it was something I did or it was a plugin that failed.

I logged in via FTP and copied everything from the plugin folder to my hard drive then deleted them from the server. Still no response. Determining it was late and I needed to work in the morning, and that my blog was not mission critical, I sent a note to support about the problem and went to bed.

MacHighway support responded about 2 am with the following:

Greg,

Your site should work now. It looks like a glitched PHP binary (part of the PHP scripting system) was causing a problem. I recompiled PHP and things are working now.

That’s a quick turn around and a great response in my opinion.

WordPress ran since 2 am this morning without plugins. Once I copied them back over via FTP they started working again without issue. Only 1 spam managed to make it through without the Akismet anti-spam plugin running.