WordPress Plugin Hurting Google Rankings?

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The Red Cardinal blog tells the tale of a WordPress Plugin killing the rankings of a site in Google as the Mobile WordPress Plugin is apparently redirecting the Googlebot from the blog homepage to a non-existant error page.

The plugin is redirecting both the Googlebot and Yahoo Slurp, but is not damaging the MSNbot’s page crawling.

What’s happening there is Googlebot is requesting my homepage, getting a 302 redirect for /wp-mobile.php, and then a 404 not found for that file. In my stupidity I didn’t copy across the file in question as per the installation instructions (although I’m not sure why the plugin doesn’t simply redirect to the plugin folder?).

So you can see how Google was getting those 404 errors. But my stupidity aside, there is a very nasty flaw in Ruadhan O’Donoghue’s plugin: mobile content is served to search engine robots.

If you serve excerpts for each post on your homepage then you really want the Search Engine bots to see that content. Granted, my own cock-up added to my issues by serving 404’s to the bots, but I think the plugin will need some modification to ensure that regular web-crwalers aren’t getting the minimal content that mobile devices get. For actual post pages this isn’t really an issue, but for the homepage this plugin could really affect your rankings – I for one need to ensure that my homepage is served correctly to the bots.

If you are using this plugin for your blog, take a second look at the coding to make sure the same problem does not happen.

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker
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  • Richard Hearne

    Hi Loren

    The apparent fix for this comes in the guise of a patch file for the database:

    More info on the patch file can be found at:

    I haven’t been able to test it as my hosting isn’t happy with the file permissions.

    This plugin is just a little too touchy, so if you’re not at ease dealing with file permissions and applying the patch you may want to give it a wide berth.

  • Sushubh

    i think the same issue exists with the print page plugin. it gets indexed by google and you might get penalized for content duplication…

  • Sushubh

    i guess in the end it depends upon the user. how he implements the plugin and checks the end result… most plugins are not tested on a wider platform and search engine friendliness is not a major criteria for all…

  • Sherwin

    Hey I hadn’t come here for a little bit. I love those icons at the end of the article. Can I steal the idea? 🙂

  • Single Grain

    I had the same problem with the print page plugin. Google gives you a penality for dupe content.

  • Andy Moore

    Try my version of a WordPress Mobile Plugin, it’s more SEO friendly than the others.