Got into the office this morning and my partner who doesn't "get" the internet and computers all that well called me over to her desk to show me something of major concern.
In order to speed up her navigating to our sites I put up a page on a protected directory with links to our sites. What she experienced was that clicking on the link that should take her to the home page of our main website instead took her to the merchant that we have an affiliate relationship with.
I knew she was doing something wrong (but couldn't imagine what) so I took her place at her computer. When I placed the mouse over the link the proper url displayed but when I clicked it she was right and I went to the merchant's site. Went back to the links page, refreshed, clicked the link and went right back to the merchant's site. I did this five times. Only on the sixth and subsequent times did the link resolve properly.
I ruled out the merchant's site being stored in her computer's cache (cleared it) and she also swears to never having visited that merchant's site.
After verifying many times that the merchant's site was being displayed under our domain's url BUT ONLY FROM HER COMPUTER, not mine, it suddenly started working properly.
With the latest Google update we lost all of our listings and I put it off to the update. Shrug, who knows why Google trashed us, start over with another domain. Now I'm wondering if somehow the link we use with this merchant has caused some kind of strange problem revolving around some kind of duplicate material penalty on the respective websites. Here is a sample of the link we started using just before Google's update.
What are the chances that switching to this new link for framing a page on the merchant's site has caused search engine ranking problems for us? I feel foolish even asking except that we just started using it two weeks ago and then we were crushed from the serps.
The frame works such that it's on the merchant's site and framing one of their own pages but, for a while, clicking a link to OUR site took one to THEIR site! Could the merchant be doing something that, separate from the link issue above, would cause their domain to show - for a time! - under our url?