Skip to content

Here’s my biggest mistake; what’s yours?

What’s the biggest professional mistake that you’ve ever made? I’ve had a good few mistakes that a) have been very expensive and b) I’ve learned a great deal from. In fact, one of my favourite interview questions was to ask candidates to tell me about their biggest mistake; the results could be quite revealing. More to the point: I’d much rather hire someone who’s made a big mistake or two than someone who’s still waiting for their first time.

Just a few minutes ago, I found what is possibly my biggest personal mistake to date. And ouch, is it painful!

I launched CampaignBar in January 2011, and FasterDev the next month. Neither of them were greeted with much attention at launch time, and I left them as they were.

A month or two later, I noticed that neither were in Google’s index. That is, I typed in and was greeted with nothing in response.


The pattern continued: once a month I’d check, raise an eyebrow, and move on.

In July, I made the decision to relaunch CampaignBar, and set out trying to work out why it wasn’t being indexed. And got nowhere. Fast.

Just now, I was Googling away once more, and saw a reference to something that might be relevant. My heart sank. It was a mention of something I really should have checked several months ago.

I’d previously made sure that a rogue robots.txt wasn’t telling search engines to go away, and had likewise checked in Google’s Webmaster Tools that there were no rules preventing Google from indexing the site. Little did I know…

Yup, that’s right! The theme I had bought helpfully included the following line:

<meta name=’robots’ content=’noindex,nofollow’ />

Which is the equivalent of your website holding up a gigantic red STOP sign any time Google, Bing or A.N. Other come near.


Written by Tom

Are you looking for web development or just someone who will work with your business needs and not against them? Get in touch with me here, or take a look at my consultancy’s website: Moo Unlimited. I’m confident I can help you.

Published inCampaignBarFasterDevOpinion


  1. That’s a pretty big oversight by the theme authors. Have you contacted Theme Forest to let them know? It’d be nice if others were saved from your pain!

    • Tom Tom

      Hehe, indeed – I’ve just emailed the authors asking them about it and shall wait and see. Part of me thinks that maybe they only included it so that their demo site wouldn’t be indexed. Is still a bit painful for me 😉

  2. Jed Jed

    Haha! Now the customers should start pouring in any moment now right? 😉

    • Tom Tom

      Heh, that might be an optimistic viewpoint… but I *like* being optimistic 😉

  3. GSP GSP

    Had this exact same issue… except it was a junk SEO firm that misconfigured an SEO module for a popular CMS on a site I had originally developed… powering a medical practice website that was generating $mm in income from visitors to their website. Oops.

  4. Jona Goldman Jona Goldman

    Sorry to hear that. Authors include it in their robots file so their demo site wouldn’t be indexed, but they really need to erase the line for the .zip file you download…

    But man, you can’t lunch a website and expect to success if you don’t check the basic stuff, and SEO is basic for any website.

    For sure is a big mistake but it could be worse :)
    Good luck!

  5. It reminds me of similar issue i faced recently- but in my case too, that funny thing was made by some on else and I had to debug it. A form was getting posted twice each time!!
    At the end of the day just noticed form being posted through submit button itself and also there’s an onclick javascript, includes form.submit() 😛

  6. Reading this blog always gives me inspiration, that’s why it’s on my google reader. :)

    Write more in 2013 !

    • I commented on the wrong post 😛 consider this as a comment for the 2011 wrap up post :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *