This one is for the bloggers who use blogspot to host their blogs, like me. Looks like Google and Blogger have decided that in a world divided about what is permissible and what is not, it is safer to redirect all blogspot.com pages to their respective country code top level domains. To a lay user like me, this comes with a whole lot of issues, and this post is about finding perfect answers for them by raising questions. I am hoping that the technically more knowledgeable readers of Subho's Jejune Diet will come forward to help all of us answer these questions.
From this month, all blogspot blogs will be redirecting to country specific URLs. This means that if you are in India, and you are looking at a blogspot.com blog, you will get to see the blogspot.in page. The same page if viewed from Australia will show you a blogspot.au page. This also impacts page ranks and stats for the blog. For example, this blog has an Alexa rank of 340,000 and a Google Pagerank of 2. But the blogspot.in page for this blog is not recognized at all by Alexa (it gives stats for http://blogspot.in only) and shows a N/A in Google Pagerank as of now.
Blogger support has this to say about the reason for doing this: "Migrating to localized domains will allow us to continue promoting free expression and responsible publishing while providing greater flexibility in complying with valid removal requests pursuant to local law. By utilizing ccTLDs, content removals can be managed on a per country basis, which will limit their impact to the smallest number of readers. Content removed due to a specific country’s law will only be removed from the relevant ccTLD."
Is my blog on blogspot.in or blogspot.com now?
It is on blogspot.com, but will redirect to country code top level domain (ccTLD) depending on where it is being viewed from.
So I have as many versions of my blog out there as countries that my readers are from! How does that figure with Google's policy of penalizing duplicate content?Blogger is very reasuring with regard to how this affects bloggers, by saying: "After this change, crawlers will find Blogspot content on many different domains. Hosting duplicate content on different domains can affect search results, but we are making every effort to minimize any negative consequences of hosting Blogspot content on multiple domains. The majority of content hosted on different domains will be unaffected by content removals, and therefore identical. For all such content, we will specify the blogspot.com version as the canonical version using rel=canonical. This will let crawlers know that although the URLs are different, the content is the same. When a post or blog in a country is affected by a content removal, the canonical URL will be set to that country’s ccTLD instead of the .com version. This will ensure that we aren’t marking different content with the same canonical tag."
When I link my blog pages, what URL should I use, my .com URL or my country specific URL?
As things are evolving now, the .com URL is going to the mother URL for your content, so that is the one you should use. As yet, I do not see any aberration in page views, so other than the pagerank tools finding a way to translate the multiple domain data into one cohesive dataset and search ranking tools finding a way to figure out what is not duplicate content, there should not be a major problem.
Would a /ncr work with this?
For those of us who might be having a question about this question, a /ncr is a URL that runs a session based cookie that blocks the automatic redirect to country domain. This is what happens when you click on "Go to Google.com" from the Google.in search homepage, and works with all browsers and OS's for all Google pages. So no matter which country you are in, if you type http://subhorup.blogspot.com/ncr it will show you the pages that are otherwise "content removed" for your country as per law. When I saw my page URL displaying http://subhorup.blogspot.in, I checked to see if this works with this change. It does as of now, though it would appear to defeat the purpose of this policy. At the time of writing, you can also set up an automatic redirect to .com/ncr in the blog header by using meta tags, JS, or PHP, and as yet, it does not appear to be a violation of Google's Terms of Service, though that might be in for a change, either at policy level or at the custom redirect level.
Looks like we have more question than answers right now. How is Google going to determine what pages are permissible for .in viewers? How will the traffic data and page ranks be converged? How do I know what content on my blog is blocked and where and why? The days to come will reveal these answers as the blogging community comes forward to understand and explain the nuances of these new developments in Google Policies.
Update (1130 IST Jan 31, 2012): For Indibloggers on blogger platform, it is likely that your Indivine submissions will not show up properly (till this issue is fixed) if you are copying the URL from the address bar, since it will have a blogspot.in or .pk or .au domain depending on where you are. For some reason, Indivine accepts this URL when you submit, but cannot display it as it is a virtual URL, and not a real page. I guess the terms I am using are not correct, but this is how I understand it from a lay perspective. So what you can do is paste the URL into the submission box and then edit the .in or .pk or .au back to .com, and then it will (should) work. Please keep updating me and other readers with what you are able to find out on this issue.