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This 90 message thread spans 3 pages: 90 ( [1] 2 3 > >     
Penalty or Google Glitch?

 1:05 am on Jun 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hi Folks,

I posted about his on another thread but it got buried and one of the moderators told me to just start a new thread. So don't beat me up for duplicate posts. :)

Yesterday my site disappeared.

Here are the facts:

site:www.mysite.com shows between 95 & 250 pages depending on when I check. Prior to yesterday I had over 450 pages showing.

Note: Only URL's showing no titles or snippets

allinanchor:www.mysite.com Prior to yesterday #6 for my toughest keyword phrase. Today we don't show up at all. (we have over 1600 backlinks)

Note: when checking www.mysite.com the home page shows
and that's where all the links are pointed to. So why the drop in allinanchor?

Can't find my site for any search term which we previously were ranking for.

Googlebot use to come to my site daily until the last week of May. Since then only one visit, on the 15th of June and just to one page, the home page.

That page shows a cache of June 16th but no other dates on any other pages.

When checking my backward links there are none from within my site. They were there prior to yesterday.

I have sent Google a couple of emails and they did respond quickly but did not give a definitive answer.

They did say that this type of thing is not "necessarily indicative of a penalty."

Only two things have changed recently on my site.

1. I added a Vbulletin forum - Which I noticed added about 200 or so pages. These are the "template" pages of the forum and do not have any "unique" content. I have created about 20 threads and a dozen or so posts.

Note: About 95% of the URL's that are showing using the site: command are the forum pages.

The other 250 pages of my site do not show up.

2. My website designer had added a "absolute position for css" to my homepage which placed some text at the end of the page but had it show up first in the source code. I hope I explained that correctly. (I really don't know what it means)

So, was it the absolute position thing that google does not like?

The forum?

Or just a glitch in the cache that has caused most of my page disappear?

Is it time to start laying off employees and storing for a long winter? (trying to keep some humor about all of this)

Any help all of you pro's can give will be greatly appeciated!


P.S. If it matters the home page still shows a PR6 and the interior pages still show PR as well.



 2:56 am on Jun 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Seems as though google is on a banning spree. This might just be the way tehy are now penalizing sites. Instead of booting them out of the index, they just do not allow them to rank or have titles.

The sites I have seen suffer from the slow/quick death are the oddest I have EVER seen as many seem quite clean and pretty good. The top areas to look at as fasr as why you got banned generally are: duplicate content and suspicious backlinks


 3:03 am on Jun 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Jim, there's no way to tell anything for sure, but from what you've said, it does sound like it could be a glitch but that's no help. It's entirely possible that even if there's a glitch, there could be something triggering it so that's where to look first.

This URL only thing has been getting a lot of attention and causing a lot of problems and confusion lately and some of us suspect it's a duplicate or near-duplicate content issue.

There are some VERY long threads on it, it's a lot to read but worth looking to find them and going through.

In one instance I've seen the "URL only" happening on a site that changed file extensions, retaining old pages that were 80% the same and redirected to the new with meta-refresh (not smart). As the new pages were found they were URL only at first, the ones that were being dropped went URL only and the site's totally lost its rankings (I don't work with that site, just have been watching it).

It's also shown differences on different data centers all along since that started. Not that I can know anything for sure, but I wouldn't go anywhere close to near-duplicate content at this point in time, no matter what.

1. I added a Vbulletin forum - Which I noticed added about 200 or so pages. These are the "template" pages of the forum and do not have any "unique" content. I have created about 20 threads and a dozen or so posts.

Note: About 95% of the URL's that are showing using the site: command are the forum pages.

In your place I'd exclude the Vbulletin from crawling just to be on the safe side.

Hopefully someone will come along who can shed a little more light on it for you.


 4:33 am on Jun 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

>suspicious backlinks

How organic are your 1600 links?

While the crosslinking debate rages, many still think that a network, or crosslink penanlty exists.


 6:23 am on Jun 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

You're not alone. Here goes a story of one of our sites:

- the site has PR6, just a few (about 10-12) links, but all with good PR.

- the site has been totally redesigned about 4-5 months ago, suffered from "sandbox" effect, as far as I can understand, but still had about 3000 pages indexed and ranked, although very poorly.

- starting from today the site has only 30 pages in Google index, all without title/snippet, no rankings at all, even for the search "unique_site_name_word" the site doesn't show in SERPs - only pages with link to it are there.

- a couple of months ago we added new section of the site, kid of "classifieds" directory, so far with very few listings, but with many _similar_ empty pages (sounds similar to your "forum issue").

- the site ranks very well in Yahoo and MSN, no bad links from the site or to the site (at least that I know of).

I hope that it is a glitch, but knowing Google I feel that it may take anything from a few months to forever to recover :( .


 8:28 pm on Jun 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

I am having the same problem with one of my sites. My internal content pages are indexed only with URL. No title/description. Stopped getting Google refresh May 18 The SAME day I added some interactive Java tools to my site. On June 15, my site disappeared from the Serps.

Not sure what is going on.


kiwi webmaster

 8:37 pm on Jun 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm in the same boat JimM.
Although some pages which haven't been crawled for a few weeks still rank ok (and have title/page snippets etc).
However, the home page is the one Google is obviously having issues with because it's the only one I've made significant changes to.

Here are the changes I made;

1) Changed one link to https (secure).
2) Made some changes to the title and meta tags.
3) Added a link to a new marketing site I recently built (the target URL originally 301'd to the site I now link from).


 8:50 pm on Jun 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Yes, some of us are suffering badly. Google is wrecking my business. They say that with power comes responsibility, but that's not the way Google works - they are cavalier about the whole thing and just dont care about businesses that have grown to rely on them.

Our sites are all as clean as a whistle. Many of them have suffered. It is a serious state of affairs. After sleepless nights, and living on this forum, I still cannnot find any problem with the sites.

They all have PR, some show url-only in Google results. Ratings have plummeted. Things in common were that they are all on the same C class IP, there is some understated interlinking, but all genuine.

Some that have many high quality backlinks only display a few.

If it was a shallow googlebot crawl, that's understandable, but if Google is just being heavy handed ...

kiwi webmaster

 9:25 pm on Jun 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Try not to get too upset over this!
I'm sure whatever the problem is, it will be sorted out eventually.

I just hope that Googleguy will pop in sometime soon to help shed some light on why this has happened.


 12:28 am on Jun 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>They say that with power comes responsibility, but that's not the way Google works - they are cavalier about the whole thing and just dont care about businesses that have grown to rely on them.

Google has not formulated the business model for any business other than their own, neither is it their place to. Their concern and respsonsibility is to provide the best quality search for their users.

If a business is based on relying on free Google traffic or any other particular venue for their survival that they can't possibly have any control over, that's their own responsibility because they've chosen their own business model and marketing plan.

>>>>Google is wrecking my business.

Nope, sorry but Google is in no way responsible for wrecking or prospering or anything else concerning your business or anyone else's other than their own.


 4:32 am on Jun 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm having the same problem with my site right now.

kiwi webmaster

 5:06 am on Jun 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

It seems to be effecting quite a few sites now.
I like to think that googlebot is infected with a virus and all google needs to do is update their anti-virus software to solve the problem!


 4:41 pm on Jun 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

We're having the same problem as well.

However, one small ray of light: we had several hundred product pages, each ranked very well - many top 1 or 2, most top 5. Then all of them went away from SERPs. No summaries in "site:", just URLs, and the world looked bleak indeed. Googlebot was still coming, and gradually summaries began to reappear, but sill most are unsummarized.

Then, on Friday morning, we noticed that a few product pages were back in the SERPs, positions 1 and 2 as before, and they still are. I noticed that these were pages that were spidered most recently on the 16th of June. This sure looks like a "glitch" to me, or at least I hope so :) All the rest are still gone as of now.

We had two possibly bad things: a very long navbar (with links to many other pages within the site) and a corporate page that had the same navbar and links to our main site. We eliminated both of these; not sure if this had any bearing on these few pages coming back.

One other observation: the sites that are in the SERPs seem very strongly biased towards non-US sites (well, relatively speaking, I should say). I see results in lots of different languages, especially once you get past positions 4 or 5. And, I would have to say that I think most of the new sites that filled in the blanks are not all that great (I am trying to be objective here :).

kiwi webmaster

 8:29 pm on Jun 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Sublime, that's great that you are seeing some improvements.
Could you give me a timeframe from when you first noticed the problem on your site to now?


 12:15 pm on Jun 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have a site hit with the same problem.

Yesterday I found 2 pages returned to the index with full title's and descriptions with a fresh date of June 19th. I feel a little more confident.

Sublime and others:
I noticed that my server allowed vistors to use either www.mydomain.com or mydomain.com and as a result I have quite a few mydomain.com url's in the index. I wonder if this could have caused a duplicate content issue. I have since fixed the issue. Have you noticed the same for yourselves?


 12:36 pm on Jun 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google is wrecking my business.

Frankly, if your busieness is at the mercy of any marketing channel to whcih you have no control, then it is your business itself that is flawed, not google.

We too lost all of our high-ranking listings about 3 month ago (they are slowly returning). However, we have honed our site to the poiint that we know EXACTLY what conversion rate targeted traffic gives us, and therefore know exactly what we can spnd on that traffic/ While we are forced to use adwords (which may or amy not be exactly what google intended), we are nonetheless still growing our business, which we can do regardless of whatever free search lisitngs google (or any other search engine) gives us.

If you honestly believe your business cannot survive and is being "wrecked" by not having free listings to which you seem to belive you are "entitled", then your business model has some serious problems.


 1:06 pm on Jun 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

kiwi webmaster: traffic started dropping about May 28th; we noticed the first several pages return to the SERPs on June 18th. Over the weekend several more have come back.

notsleepy: one of the changes we made in this period was to make a rewrite rule to do a 301 redirect on traffic to domain.com to www.domain.com. However, the site:domain.com query showed only several pages in the index without the www. -- we have been very careful with our links programs. I doubt the failure to redirect is/was the cause of our problem.


 9:03 am on Jun 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

One of my sites just got banned as well. PR 0 and can't be found under ANYTHING. I can't figure out what I did wrong. I'm wondering if I move the content to a different domain, will it apply as duplicate content and will the new domain get banned? I'm thinking maybe I should get a different IP.

Or should I wait a few days and see if google has a change of heart?

<Update: I FINALLY figured out what happened. I was banned because of duplicate ODP data, (I think, makes the most sense to me)>


 10:23 am on Jun 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

<Update: I FINALLY figured out what happened. I was banned because of duplicate ODP data, (I think, makes the most sense to me)>

How did you get duplicate ODP data?


 10:47 am on Jun 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

nyet, I uploaded all the ODP data to my site and used a script to include all the data onto my site as a mirror. An ODP mirror. Google found that to be duplicate data, I believe. Thats my current hypothesis. Now I need to get me a new domain, change my website, and get RID of the ODP data. Uploading all that duplicate content was a stupid move on my part.


 11:08 am on Jun 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

oh, I missunderstood. I thought you meant you were listed twice IN the ODP. I am a marketing guy not a programming guy.

We have the same problem as listed here. Our site is very simple - nothing even slightly aggressive in our SEO (I am told).


Patrick Taylor

 11:26 am on Jun 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hi JimM. Sorry to hear about your troubles. I would regard this as the kind of glitch that can happen when someone (in this case Google) tries to make sense of billions of web pages that never stand still. I don't believe Google bans sites the way some people imagine, and certainly not on the evidence you presented.

As regards your site's stylesheet, it sounds as if all your designer has done is move the code around so it displays in different places in the html than it does to the visitor. Nothing wrong or unusual (or bad) about that, as long as there is no attempt to deceive the crawler - and even then I don't believe your site would actually be banned.

I agree with the business-model warnings. Given that a website can, for no apparent reason, disappear forever, it seems pretty short-sighted (reckless, even) to rely too much on the performance of one website in one search engine. One can obviously attempt to examine and make sense of a situation, but even if you change things and your site comes back, you're always vulnerable.

kiwi webmaster

 10:50 pm on Jun 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

I sure hope you're right Patrick.

I have noticed a few more sites experiencing similar problems so it is quite likely that there is some sort of glitch.


 11:12 pm on Jun 22, 2004 (gmt 0)


Zillions of sites disappear from the Google Index... one of mine as well... as well as two friends lost their sites completey... no text, no header, no title in the SERPs.

and site: lists only 1 or 2 entries - where thousand have been before...

all of these sites are commercial sites... amazon storefront, a loan corporation, a whole tech directory...

It looks as if all sites that are made to earn money are being removed... isn't it? Should we all pay for Adwords only now?!?


 11:15 pm on Jun 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

I agree that if an entrepreneur's business model is reliant on parties outside thier control they must also accept the risk assiociated with such a plan.

So, you won't here me complaining that any search engine is ruining my business.

Although it is an interesting dilemma. If you get good rankings you must hire additional staff to handle the sales. Then if something happens - well, I guess you just fire everybody and start over.

I do hope this problem is a glitch of some sort. Googlebot still has not been to my site.

The last email from Google said,

"Thank you for your reply. We understand your concern and have passed your message on to our engineering team for further investigation."

Thanks for the replies,



 11:42 pm on Jun 22, 2004 (gmt 0)


I am having the same problem.

Our website (our ONLY website) was a PR7, about 3 years old, over 1,500 backlinks, many are .edu and .gov - we are THE authority on our topic with 10X as much info as the next closest website. We stopped getting fresh tags the last week of may and have seen all of our listings disappear. We had about 500 pages index, now down to 40-100 depending when you check.

I have noticed one thing for sure:

our homepage is missing title and description and is listed several times in the index like this:


We still have page rank but allinurl shows that most of our pages are not in the index and of the ones that are, most are duplicated with tracking urls. Most of our pages do not have titles and descriptions, haven't been spidered in weeks. Also, of the pages in allinurl I am seeing some very old pages that we removed in 2002 and early 2003.

I cannot believe that we have incurred any penalty, we have been at the top of all related search terms for several years, we have never kw stuffed, cloaked, hidden text, spammed or anything even close to greyhat.

All of the pages that are in the index over and over with different urls have lost their positions, the remaining pages that are in and only have the correct url have titles, descriptions and still rank high for their keywords, many have actually improved, but these are very deep pages or pages such as our TOS, guarantees or testimonials.

We are commercial in nature and supply government, hospitals and universities with specialized equipment. The results for our major terms are now showing some very bad pages that were not there before 3 weeks ago, some with only one affiliate link, some off topic, some with no titles and descriptions, some with hidden text and some are just a redirect to another website. I also see that competitors are having their websites listed several times with different domain names, same content, just different names.

If this is a penalty what would it be, the "google decided to list tracking urls for all of our main pages and consider them duplicate content" penalty?


 11:56 pm on Jun 22, 2004 (gmt 0)


It seems that our symptoms are very similar.

Googlebot slowed to a near stop on our site around the last week of May as well. Only one visit after that date and to the home page only.

I also noticed a couple of URL's showing using the site: command that were deleted in March.

I wonder how widespread this problem is...



 12:27 am on Jun 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

I did some searching and see that this url problem is pretty widespread, I found that it effecting some .gov sites as well as some other sites that I really don't think google would penalize. doing some searches using the allinurl and site along with some snipets of different tracking urls I can see thousands of sites suffering from the same problem.


 1:34 am on Jun 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

I was convinced it was a penalty until today. There are so many sites vanishing seems like it may be a glitch or a huge mistake.


 1:57 am on Jun 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Duplicate content, and pseudo duplicate content (like www versus non www) seems to be one phenomenon.

Personally, I think the new Googlebot is an idiotbot. From what I can see, most of what it touches seems to end up with weird problems... multiple daily crawls of high PR pages lead to no fresh dates; some high PR indexed pages get a second URL only listing, etc.

Someone with too much time on their hands might want to compare the timing on the large scale URL problems starting versus the appearance of the new idiotbot.

This 90 message thread spans 3 pages: 90 ( [1] 2 3 > >
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