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Is my site being penalized?
Google traffic droped by 95% starting 26 Aug 2004

 9:16 am on Sep 2, 2004 (gmt 0)


Just wondering if someone who experienced a major drop in google traffic could comment on this.

Story as follow:

The site is 8 months old with approx 13,000 pages online. (a software download directory). The main index page has a PR5 and is reported to have 2,900 baclinks when I check via the google bar. Google used to send approx 1000 unique per day up until the 26 Aug, 2004. My traffic from google since then (26 Aug) have dropped to almost 0 unique p/day while yahoo, altavista, msn etc continue to send the same amount of viewers +-.

I did not change anything major prior to the 26 Aug, except for adding a link to a new site I just finished developing. I added the new link at the bottom of approx 2000 pages out of the 13,000. Also, I did not add any new pages to the site for more then 5 months now.

Could someone please shad some light. Is the site being penalized? is it just an update? will traffic ever recover again?.

This site accounted for a large chunk of my monthly income. I am amazed to see how it went from successful/productive to useless almost over night (?!?).

When I do allinurl:mysite.com I get approx 13000 pages indexed by google yet almost none show on the SERPs at the position they used to show (if at all). Looking at my logs it appears as the site have been completely dropped from google.

Also, results over the 3 google centers are way off for my site. The site is still indexed well on www2 and www3 (good as always positions for my keywords ) but is nowhere to be seen on www (datacenter 1).



 2:08 pm on Sep 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

Do you have multiple domains for this shareware directory - is there a chance of duplicate content?


 2:14 pm on Sep 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

"EXCATLY" same thing happened to me, i still cant figure out what casued this, infact no one has so far. You are not alone many ppl lost around 80% traffic on august 25th.

I hope this is just goof-up by google. I heard webmaster who had experinced the same traffic drop on august 4th regained their tarfic on august 25th. I hope we get it back too.


 3:08 pm on Sep 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

Exactly the same for me....1200 uniques oer day...now 200 if I am lucky. It happened at the same time as you and for 2 of my sites. The one thing in common is the overall size of these sites...over 10k pages.

What was interesting was I launched another site around the same time. It went in to the index, peaked at 450 uniques for one day then went down to 60 per day.

Like you, my income virtually gone :(

Unbelieveably, someone I know has had much success moving his site to a non-commercial ISP..ie a homepages domain. His theory is that Google want you to pay for your traffic and will allow in non-commercial domains as it signifies a non-commercial website. I am beginning to wonder if his theory is true!

I am hoping the latest traffic drop is a glitch, but somehow I doubt it.



 3:34 pm on Sep 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

i don't think your site is being penalized at all. i have lots of experience with this sort of matter. Every 3 or 4 mos. google does a major "refresh" or update of the serps. Pages w/o a high PR are very likely to drop dramatically as a result of the update in favor of sites with either a higher pr or pages that are simply newer in nature. Google has a real fondness for "new information". Even though your home page is a pr5, it is likely that the subpages don't have a pr that is high enough to maintain their position in the serps. It is just one of the many games that google plays to drive people crazy and thus to adwords.


 3:44 pm on Sep 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

Scary stuff indeed. The power of google never stops to amaze me. Seams like whatever you do, you are always under its control. It can (and will) turn your business off and on overnight.

Regardless of how many sites you have or their content. Seams like the most important ones always take the hit.

Into a more positive note (hope i am not jumping too soon), i just noticed some of my keywords back on the SERPs and into the same if not a better position.

Traffic is still at 0-10% of what it used to be but my web logs now starting to show more google traffic (in the past 6 hours).

Hopefully it is just an update, HOPEFULLY.

Another wired thing i noticed was that the traffic to the site spiked by approx 35% a couple of days just before dropping to 0 (on 26 Aug). I also noticed a major googl crawl around this date.

In reply to ChronicFatigue:
Yes some of the content (approx 500 pages) were duplicated on the new domain (not 100% duplicated more like 50% duplicated, different description and different overhaul look and page structure + i added more links on the new domain pages etc.)
Assuming it is a penalty for duplicate content, wouldn’t google penalize the new site (and not the old site) because if otherwise then anyone can cause sites to drop of the SERPs just by duplicating their content and submitting the new domain to google. Logically, if there is content duplication penalty then it should be imposed on the new site and not the old one.

Thoughts on this please?


 4:11 pm on Sep 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

Some domains of ours have experienced the same type of traffic losses on August 25th. MaxB what kind of links are pointing to your software download site? Are they varied from many different multiple sources? Any major directories like DMOZ, Yahoo, etc?


 4:39 pm on Sep 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

in reply to Lothar:

Links are from many different multiple sources. Mainly from the same domain (sub pages pointing to index.html) approx 50%.

About 20% are from other software vendors, the rest of the links come from many crappy keyword stuffing sites which for some reason have our domain links appearing at the bottom of their pages (like they are mirroring google serps kind of thing) the links don't work on many of those pages.

The site is not in yahoo directory as far as i know but is listed in yahoos SERPs. No dmoz listing either.


 5:07 pm on Sep 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

In response to MaxB:
Thanks for the updates on links. I'm just trying to deduce a pattern of some sort based on your input and knowing what link structures are on our sites although I have not really found much of a pattern at this point. Any other input is appreciated from others as Google tends to weigh so heavily on link structures rather than on-page elements.


 7:12 pm on Sep 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

rather interesting.
on 25/26 of august, i had traffic increased for 40% approx, but 30 of august traffic dropped to total 0...

so, is my site banned, or it's the same effect as described in this topic?


 8:00 pm on Sep 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

There's already a big discussion going on

Don't bother to read it all, just the bigger statements are of value (my opinion). Bottom line: nobody really seems to know what's going on...


 11:09 pm on Sep 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

WOW! This is nutty! I reported an issue around this time where I thought our traffic dropped because I added so many "new" pages. But it happed the same time everyone else is reporting! There was a little dip a couple days before the 26th and then our traffic just plumitted.

Though it makes me feel better that it was not my fault...it sickens me that we are a PR6 site had 3,000 uniques a day...and now we have a few hundred! However, Google is still spidering our site.

Are there any contacts for Google that we could email like Yahoo has for webmasterworld people? ... or any contact that will respond?


 5:49 am on Sep 3, 2004 (gmt 0)


Looking at my web logs, (traffic patterns and sought after keywords) it is starting to look like google kind of reverted to an old index (image) of my site. It is almost like the same traffic patterns i saw 5 or 6 months ago (when the site was still new). My index page cached version now display an old page dated 10 August. I did notice a newer version a few days ago (dated 30 August) but it now reverted back to 10 Aug version for some reason.

It is a major update for sure. What are we going to get at the end of this is yet to be seen.

Google Traffic (if i can still call it that) to the site is still at record lows but steady and around the same figure for almost a week now.


 10:48 am on Sep 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

I would be working on something else. Once the traffic has dropped, there's not much chance you'll see it again.

Let's talk about these pages that dropped. Did they have a lot of information on them?


 11:25 am on Sep 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

Once the traffic has dropped, there's not much chance you'll see it again.

This is totally false, I know plenty who have got traffic back after August 5th. Plus this happened to me last August in a more minor way and I got all my traffic back. I just had to be patient.

yes there seems no reason to it. nothing to do with site design etc.

My main site has lost 90% of traffic and others 60%. All different in terms of hosts, designs, subjects and information. Only thing similar is the size of them (all 1k plus sites).

But most are 2yrs plus years old, have dmoz / yahoo links and there's no chance I am binning them like some others have suggested just because of a bad G update.

Hopefully they comeback in time, but I agree it could have something to do with adwords.

The bottom line is the standard of serps stinks at the mo. Lots of spammy sites may have been hit, but just as many useful ones as well. I am switching to Yahoo for searching I hate to say. Which I never thought I would do.

Who wants to visit tripod spam allday.


 11:47 am on Sep 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

No MikeD, it's not false.

If the algo has been changed, and you leave your pages unchanged, you're not coming back.


 2:22 pm on Sep 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

my site used to be Alexa rank top 5000 1 year ago .
It began to drop since last Sep. After this Apr, thing getting worse and worse . Traffic droppped dramatically, right now my site's Alexa rank is below 50000 away . Google use to have more than 10000 referrel before that . But now only several hundred.
I heard of Google has get it's docID limitation (use c and c++ design on linux system , say if integer is 4 byte, the maxim page can be indexed is 2^32 .) For those Google can't index , goolebot still come but only save them as list page ( only URL saved, no title head... anything else and page rank priority is pretty low ).
on my site, there's "about us" on every page, I looked for site:mysite.com "about us" on Google , only more than 20k page indexed, which is only 10% as before .However , if I looked for
site:mysite.com -"about us" on Google , more than 140k listed. All of those listed pages are from what I redesign my web site, that means new pages . So Google maybe really runs out of 'QUOTA'....


 2:56 pm on Sep 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think that's one of those "urban legends" that somone posted in a forum one day and now its still spreading around from time to time.
It is true, that Google only saves the URL for some pages, but generally that's not because they cannot index the page, it's because they don't want to. E.g. because it's a dynamic page with tons of cgi-parameters.


 3:04 pm on Sep 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks Airport...,but in my case, I have very typical URL without any CGI paraneters and any question marks and all end with .HTML OR .HTM, do you think that's a dynamic pages? If that's dynamic page, what's static page?
thanks again!

[edited by: yangtao72 at 3:05 pm (utc) on Sep. 3, 2004]


 3:05 pm on Sep 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

If the algo has been changed, and you leave your pages unchanged, you're not coming back.

lol, total rubbish. Well what if the algo changes back?

So your advice JuniorOptimizer is to bin any website if it gets hit by an algo change.

Someone I know lost 90% of traffic on August 5th and then got it all back on August 25th. So it would have been a great idea for him to have binned his site wouldnt it.

There was 20 days from 5th and 25th. And it's only been 8-9 days since last algo change.

Google is all about quality links and new content. Keep getting both of these and you will bounce back in time.


 3:27 pm on Sep 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

Dynamic Pages was just an example. Another reason for just indexing the url is, that pages are considered duplicates. And there are a lot of othere reasons for this phenomenon, but I'm pretty sure, it's not about Google running out of docIDs :-)


 3:35 pm on Sep 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thank you Airport...
How google judge 'duplicates page'? I think most of those pages are UNIQUE on my site . I know a Ecommerce site, they have many many affiliates partners and host those pages for these affiliates partners , all these pages are almost same except top of these pages(I mean only company LOGO and main navigate bar different ). I traced the site's pages indexed by google for years, these DUPLIACTE PAGES increased to 1.4 million from 0.4 million only six months. That calls googel algo change? Or google doesn't consider that's duplicates page and my unique pages are duplicates page?
sorry I'm cowboy IT person and would like to listen your opinion .Thanks again!


 4:02 pm on Sep 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

If I knew how Google worked, I'd probably not be reeding this tread, but driving my Ferrari :-)

But if you want to know, what ways Google could have to identify duplicate content:


 4:43 pm on Sep 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

MikeD, my advice for any competitor of mine who has lost 80% of his traffic would be to sit back and relax.

Algos come and go. Before long an algo that likes your pages will come along ;)


 5:40 pm on Sep 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

MikeD, my advice for any competitor of mine who has lost 80% of his traffic would be to sit back and relax.
Algos come and go. Before long an algo that likes your pages will come along ;)

yeah I agree with that statement, but not after just 8 days of an algo change.


 6:33 am on Sep 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

My websites took a big hit on Wed. 8/26/2004. The dropoff actually started about 8/25 4pm PDT, but the damage was complete by 8/26. The traffic decreased by about 90%. I have several travel affiliate websites, all on the same IP address, one per state or area. The content is NOT duplicated, but several links are between these websites are all on the same IP.

No major changes were made to the websites, as I was on vacation at the time (for a few weeks). Minor changes were made from automatic updates (listings added/dropped).

I have other non-affiliate websites, but also on the same IP. I'm moving these to another IP address (and netblock), as the non-affiliate (informational) sites contain links to the affiliate websites. This may not do any good, but at least it can't hurt. I'll move the websites back when (if) I get traffic again.

I'm also making sure I have unique, direct internal links and doing general cleanup. I know I basically have to sit tight for a month or so, but it's hard to do nothing. First do no harm.


 2:45 am on Sep 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

Anyone got he's traffic back yet?

No recovery here. Still very close to zero google traffic p/day. Ouch it hearts!

I just finished removing ALL links to external domains from my site. Hoping it may make a diffrence.


 2:48 am on Sep 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm afraid that the best idea, is to forget about previous SEO experience, and to build that traffic from scratches.I'm afraid that there was something global in changes, so new tricks are strictly required :)


 4:55 am on Sep 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm afraid that the best idea, is to forget about previous SEO experience, and to build that traffic from scratches.

I think that is a bit drastic after only a couple weeks!

On a separate note, I've gone through and searched for quite a few of our product pages along with our domain while searching "example.com keyword1..." and google still has the pages in the index...and each page still has it's PR. I also noticed that Google has indexed pages that we added after the HUGE drop in rankings with Google. What does this mean?...I'm not sure - I'm hoping it may be a clue that will spark a thought with someone.

Also, this weekend I had a couple of friends with strong PR7 sites put temporary links on their home page (and other pages), linking to our home page and some of our product pages. I'm hoping it will prompt Google to rethink our site in some way. Just as a reminder, our 3yr old site is a PR6 and still remains a PR6 after the huge ranking drop....just for those who think that only low PR sites were dropped.


 5:09 am on Sep 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think you’re on the right track maxb, based upon your original message. Many times I’ve thought it dealt with IP addresses, theming, similarity, etc. It though ended up being the simplest answer. Perhaps Google just counts how many times a site links to another. Since you did the extreme of adding 1000 links to the new site you may make the answer clearer for many or maybe not.

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