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Bad Behavior WordPress Plugin Up To No Good



February 27th, 2011 12:34 pm | by Ed |

I was taking a casual look at several of my websites and blogs when I noticed that blogs that just a few days ago enjoyed solid PR3 and PR4 rankings in Google were suddenly Unranked. This coincided with a significant drop in traffic that I had noticed starting a few days before.

I logged in to Google's webmaster tools and checked on my site's stats and found one glaring factor for each of them. Every single WordPress blog that I have was showing HUNDREDS of crawl errors!

Crawl errors mean that googlebot has tried to crawl the site and was unable to retrieve the pages listed. On looking at several of the error reports for several sites I found a common factor. Each one of them had been blocked by the "Bad Behavior" WordPress Plugin.

Bad Behavior is a plugin for WordPress blogs that I have used for years. It's purpose is to block automated requests to a PHP based site (like WordPress) and therefore massively reduce the amount of automated spam comments and other forms of mischievous bots trying to access your blog.

It has performed great for a long time. However when I checked the plugin's logs on the affected blogs I found that it has been blocking googlebot, under the assumption that it's not really googlebot but rather something else pretending to be googlebot

If you are using Bad Behavior, Go to your plugins page, scroll down until you see the Bad Behavior plugin and click "logs". On that page, click "show blocked". If in that listing you see a lot of entries where googlebot is blocked then the best advice I can give you is to do two things.

1. Deactivate the plugin immediately The fastest way to lose all traffic from Google is for googlebot to not be able to craw your site! I don't know about you but I've been steadily getting more and more traffic from Google searches and I'd like to keep it that way!!

2. Go to the plugin site: http://bad-behavior.ioerror.us/2011/02/15/bad-behavior-2-0-42-and-2-1-11/ and let the plugin author know that it is mis-behaving by incorrectly blocking googlebot. If enough people report the error there's at least a decent chance that it will get fixed.

Technorati Tags: lost pagerank, googlebot, pagerank, traffic, blocking googlebot, WordPress Plugin, search traffic, blocking google, search results, Bad Behavior, websites unranked

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5 Comments

  1. Michael Hampton on 05.04.2011 at 21:31 (Reply)


    Well, you could have reported the problem, too. :P

    Please send me log entries showing where Googlebot was blocked. As far as I know, any such issues were fixed long ago.

    1. Ed on 10.04.2011 at 09:23 (Reply)


      I attempted to do so. That trac bug reporting system blows chunks in a big way. Not at all friendly to people who have never seen it before.

  2. Michael Hampton on 05.04.2011 at 21:47 (Reply)


    Ah, I found your post, in the Akismet spam queue, of all places. Sorry about that.

    Seems the issue is Google is crawling from a completely new IP address range. I’ve updated Bad Behavior and the new version (2.0.43) should be showing up in the WordPress plugin repository in a few minutes.

    1. Ed on 10.04.2011 at 09:33 (Reply)


      I’ll have a look at it but to be honest, I’m undecided whether I’ll start using it again or not. you see, when it blocked Google all of my blogs that were using it instantly lost all of the ranking that I have worked hard to gain. Even though I disabled the plugin as soon as I found out about the problem the damage had already been done. All of my blogs went to UNRANKED instantly. One of which was a PR4! That was TWO YEARS of hard work flushed down the toilet in almost no time at all. As you might imagine I am significantly less than thrilled at this. I’m even less thrilled that I have still not recovered my rankings. Not just PR but SERPs positioning as well. Traffic from Google SERPs is *STILL* down by 90% of what it was. This means that I am going to have to start my rank building campaign all over again from scratch, possibly spending ANOTHER two years rebuilding Google rankings that this borked plugin managed to utterly destroy in a matter of hours.

      Do I sound bitter and pissed?

      You better fucking believe it!

      Somebody else’s thing screws up and *I* get to pay the penalty. Thanks a fucking lot!

  3. How do you protect your own blog? on 09.04.2011 at 22:42


    [...] plugins. Decided to look into the second (since I have the first one). Here is what I found: Bad Behavior WordPress Plugin Up To No Good Bad Behavior WordPress Plugin May Decrease your Blog Traffic Based on that I don't think any [...]

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