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Back from Bourbon

 11:14 pm on Jul 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

For those of you who have given up on the damage done by the Bourbon update… there still might be hope. My site (400+ page history site), which was badly hit by Google’s May update, just came back late last night to its original standing in Google. I was originally on page one of Google with most of my keywords and keyword phrases for years. After May, the site was still page one with Yahoo and Msn; still indexed with Google, but in “no man’s land” in Google searches. I had about five duplicate content pages left over from a recent renovation; also 4 or 5 pages with the ‘http://www.mysite.com/’ and the ‘http://mysite.com’ problem. I contacted Google and was told about 3 weeks later that there was no penalty, but I still lost 95% of Google traffic. The only repairs I made were to eliminate the duplicate pages, but these pages really weren’t an issue in the loss of traffic. I now have 9 pages with the ‘http://www.mysite.com/’ and the ‘http://mysite.com’ problem. Other than that everything is back to normal.



 12:52 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Good to know. So where is your location, and to what IP does Google.com resolve in your area?

Also, how exactly did you contact G?


 1:43 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

[Good to know. So where is your location]
I am in US.

[what IP does Google.com resolve in your area?]
Sorry, I don't know how to determine this.

[Also, how exactly did you contact G?]
Went to G "Contact Us" page... got an automated reply w/i 24 hours... then replied to the automated reply because it had a case number and was now personal... three weeks later got a personal reply.

confused ellie

 2:30 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hi Everyone,

The same thing happened to us, we returned on June 30th. The morning of June 30th, the DC's had us placed in the 200's and by mid morning, they started rolling up. The main server switched us just before lunch to our original position before May 21st.

We contacted Google by using the Contact page. We also got an automated reply and later recieved a more personal reply saying this was normal fluctuations. :/ Falling from the first page to position 808 didn't feel like normal fluctuations but they were not going to say otherwise.

During Burbon update our main changes were:
1) Fixed our www. and non www's with 301's.
2) Cleaned up any old duplicate content.
3) Changed our title tag to be more suited to our keywords. Mostly changed the weight of the keywords by moving them to the beginning of the title rather than towards the end.
4) Started our site with Google Sitemaps. When we made new changes, we resubmitted the sitemap and actually screwed up because we sent up our version from our test server and Googlebot barfed with several errors. We fixed it quickly with little issues.
5) Setup robots.txt files on the dup pages we switched to 404's so that Gbot would stop hitting the 404's.

I am honestly not sure that any of this had any impact. Possibly if we had just waited it out, we would see the same result. Maybe out of the 5 things we did, the 301's might have been the biggest culprit but we had those without 301's for the first 5 years of being in business with no problems. That very well could have been a Burbon change though.

Not 100% certain of this, but when we made our changes by cleaning up our site by deleting duplicate content, I believe that things moved along a little faster and smoother because of using Google Sitemaps. We never submitted through the "automatic URL removal system" as we were concerned that would change the number of pages to our site too quickly and Gbot would get even more confused. I watched daily after we submitted to the Sitemaps and noticed those pages clean up smoothly.

I am not sure if any of this information is of any use to anyone but hopefully it is and someone might find something helpful out of it.

Best of luck to anyone still waiting. This has been one nasty and discouraging ride and I have my fingers crossed for those still scratching their heads.




 2:54 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm back from Bourbon as well. I did nothing to the site.

[edited by: guitaristinus at 3:05 pm (utc) on July 2, 2005]


 2:56 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

[During Burbon update our main changes were:
1) Fixed our www. and non www's with 301's.]

I was uneasy about attempting this, so made no changes, but like I said, I have about 5 more pages with this problem after the 'fix'. So for future reference, was this ever an issue?

[2) Cleaned up any old duplicate content.]
Likewise did this with a handful of pages. So again, for future reference, was this ever an issue?

[4) Started our site with Google Sitemaps.]
I considered this, but have found that using my own site map, which the Googlebot visits almost daily. Typically when I create new pages, I put a link on the site map within the first 25 links (I make a “What’s New” column right up front). My new pages are typically indexed with 3 days this way. Therefore, in an attempt to fix things, I put links to the pages that were "lost" at the top of my site map. They were then visited within the next day or so. Whether this made a difference or not is unproven.

Bottom line, if you compare 'confused ellies' site comeback and mine, duplicate content was the only common denominator.


 2:56 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Same here. My traffic came back on the morning of June 30th too. My site is also pretty large and had never been hit like that until May. (My site is 3.5 years old).

In fact, I'm getting MORE traffic from Google than I did before Bourbon in May.

I didn't do too much but add more content but I doubt that did it. I think Google is just trying to clean up what they originally started and a lot of the NON spammy sites are returning. Hopefully the rest of you will see the same shortly.

I also still haven't done anything with www and non www redirects. Still not convinced that causes a penalty due to the fact I have so many sites and they all do well in Google despite the duplicates.

[edited by: 2create at 2:58 pm (utc) on July 2, 2005]

Undead Hunter

 2:58 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Just to reiterate from the other, longer thread, we were lost on May 21, and came rolling back to near full strength on June 17.

The only change we made was removing links from the front page: we had over 100, and we lowered it to around 60. (We were showing "recent articles" added by date and it got out of hand.)

We thought long and hard about the "duplicate" content 'penalty', ie. www. vs. non-www results. And though Google shows us as having 3x the number of pages we do, we can't find a search string that brings up those non-www results. So we never bothered.


 3:07 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

[I think Google is just trying to clean up what they originally started and a lot of the NON spammy sites are returning. ]

I tend to agree... I think for a lot of us, it was just a waiting game. According to G, my site was not penalized.Hopefully other 'white hat' sites will return.

[edited by: tedster at 5:02 am (utc) on Mar. 10, 2006]

confused ellie

 3:22 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Agreed, I have NO idea if ANY of these changes made any impact but thought I would just share the changes we did make just in case.

We did see that G had indexed and cached our www and non www so we decided to go ahead and try to eliminate that as a potential problem. For the first 4 1/2 years in business, G never indexed the non www that we are aware of. So that looked like a new occurance which happened I believe in Nov 04 through about Jan 05. Who knows... So hard to figure out what the problem exactly was or even if there was a real problem. Our sites might have just gotten caught up in the update and needed the time to return.

Since some are reporting they made no changes at all and vanished and then returned, that tells me we may also have returned if we had sat tight and not made any changes.

I wish I could be more helpful, but it looks like we still have little clues as to why this really happened to all of us.


[edited by: tedster at 5:01 am (utc) on Mar. 10, 2006]


 3:42 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hi Folks

Very glad to read some posative news, and can see some have implemented items of our Google-Updates Survival Kit

And for the benefit of other fellow members here it is again:

Google-Updates Survival Kit

- Do a 301 redirect regarding yoursite.com vs. www.yoursite.com (canonical url problem)

- Removing 302 redirects
Please do not remove your own site using Google's url removal tool. All it will really do is remove your own site for 180 days.And don´t think that allinurl:yourdomain.com returning a result like someotherdomain.com/redirect?url=www.yourdomain.com could be a hijacking. That's a common misperception. All that "allinurl:yourdomain.com" does is look for documents with "yourdomain com" anywhere in the url that we saw. It's not a hijacking if you see results
from other sites with allinurl. The only time you need to worry is if you do site:yourdomain.com and then you see results from someotherdomain.com.

- Removing duplicates

- Subtle page changes and monitor SERP changes

- Create and submit a Google Sitemap (You want Google to crawl more of your web pages)

- Send feedback to Google engineers
One of the effective ways which GoogleGuy recommend to contact Google engineers if people have feedback or are unhappy with a search (or if your site(s) can't be found for any keyword phrases and you don't have a clue why?). Send an email to jun05feedback [at] googlegroups.com.
It's easier if you give a typical query you would have expected to show up for, not just your site name. If you wish to drop a notes, please include your WebmasterWorld nickname so that it's easier to put things into context.

- Optimize your site for other search engines (like Yahoo, MSN ..)
Keep working to increase non Google sources of visitors.

- Transfer your affected site to a spare/emergency site
An emergency site is an additional site with 1-2 pages of real content related to your affected site. You create the emergency site in good time, submit it to the majors (also maybe local directories) and leave it to age for at least 6 months before moving the content of your affected site to it.

- Outlet Sites Strategy
In short its about creating several sites each contains part of your contents (instead of having the whole contents on one site). Outlet sites have their own "value added" contents. The benefit of Outlet Sites is making your business less vulnerable to be hit by Google´s updates.


Google Update Bourbon Part 4

Dropped from Google - a checklist to find out why.

Further Google 302 Redirect Problems

301 for non-www. to www. not working, plus custom error stops working

Google Sitemaps

Successful Site in 12 Months with Google Alone (Brett Tabke)

Sandbox Question and SEO for Google

GoogleGuy's posts (Some posts and advice on Bourbon and other topics)

eval.google.com - Google's Secret Evaluation Lab..


 4:03 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

I was hit to by Bourbon, but my site recovered slowly till June 30 and then lost suddenly a lot of places in the serps. It whent even lower then on, may 22. Are there other sites with the same pattern, or is mine an exeption?


 4:38 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

As the treasurer of the "75% down" club - subscriptions still welcome :) - we now seem to be recovering since 30th June.

Implemented the non-www redirect ( many thanks to theBear ) and implemented cunning plan No.1 "subtle changes". Interesting some pages with subtle changes are doing very well so I need to look into that when I get a minute.

Also used the email address GG gave. If that was the cause of the changes we have seen and restoration of traffic from Google - thanks very much GG - all of us here owe you one.

However it could all change again - so hoping for a period of stability.


 4:39 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

I was hit hard on or about 6/16, with Google referrals dropping by 90% or more.

I had a www vs. non-www problem, since fixed with a 301 redirect.

My site was "hijacked" by two or more (legitimate) mirror sites, with page copies at both sites outranking my original pages. The mirrors have been killed in the past several days. One mirror administrator was kind enough to use the "Remove Content from Google's Index" tool to force the issue. Still, to this day, the mirror copies remain in Google's index and outrank all of my originals.

In my niches, I am seeing strange SERPs with non-duplicate results ending in the low 100s, absurdly low figures for these common keywords and key phrases, with my site (and the mirrors, for that matter) nowhere to be found. My site only appears if I "repeat the search with the omitted results included," but with very low rankings (at positions 500+).

I've contacted Google using their contact form but have not yet received any personal reply. Thanks for posting the jun05feedback e-mail address! That's the next thing I'll try.

No recovery here yet. Hoping for the best, but not just sitting idly by. I'm just about finished switching to a CSS-based site redesign. If and when I come back, I want to come back strong.


 4:45 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm in your boat Berto. My site took the plunge on June 16th and has not yet returned. I created 301 redirects and did some mods, condensed some pages by using CSS and made a few little tweaks...

So far I've only seen reports of sites that have come back that went down before the June 16th debacle. Is there anyone who took a dive on June 16th that came back recently?

Do the June 16thers need to just wait 2 more weeks for their 1 month anniversary and reinstatement?


 4:58 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)


>Implemented the non-www redirect ( many thanks to theBear ) and implemented cunning plan No.1 "subtle changes". Interesting some pages with subtle changes are doing very well so I need to look into that when I get a minute.<

Thats great John. I have always called for actions once a site get a hit from an update, and not just the passive way; sit tight, wait, and see.

>thanks very much GG - all of us here owe you one.<

Not me ;-)

Still missing a great portion of those good 75% Google´s referrals which Allegra (Feb. 2005) took away from me.


 5:02 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

reseller: I'd wait a while longer until your site(s) have been crawled again and see what happens.
<edit> Assuming you did some changes! </edit>


 5:34 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)


>reseller: I'd wait a while longer until your site(s) have been crawled again and see what happens.<

Googlebot actually live at my site. It is there twice a day eating bandwidth, most of the time.

>Assuming you did some changes!<

Of course I did ;-)

Actually I see gradual recovering lately, but nothing to write to my son about.


 6:22 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

My site that got hit badly by Bourbon is now getting google traffic that is slightly higher than pre-Bourbon - as far as I can tell from the holiday weekend traffic.

Started coming back on June 30.

I made no changes to my site - other than my "usual" changes.

[edited by: bether2 at 6:31 pm (utc) on July 2, 2005]


 6:31 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)


>Started coming back on June 30.<

Something happened for sure on June 30. I wonder whether they have switched back to pre-Bourbon algos!

Anybody else have started recovering at the same date?


 6:42 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Still no recovery here, lost most G traffic with Allegra (used to get about 10,000 G refs per day).

The website has about 1,700 actual pages. When it ranked well, site: showed 4,500 pages. When it tanked in Feb, site: showed as few as 100 pages. Past month or so page count rising...as of this AM, site: showed over 28,000 pages.

Remember, this site really only has 1,700 pages.

The majority of the pages listed under site: are supplimental and a search for a unique phrase in quotes lists a number of scrapers, but not my site.

If I go the whole way down into the 900th or so listing showed via site: I see some pages which are not supplimental and will show up for a search on an exact phrase in quotes, but still won't show up in any 'real' SERPs such as a potential visitor might use.


 6:46 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)


There hasn't been a complete re-adjustment to pre-bourbon rankings. It seems that all who were affected on the Bourbon June 16 update are still very much in the dark, including my 3 year old authority site that used to receive 25k unique visitors daily. Google now sends a whopping 2.5k daily.. 90% drop, and no signs of recovery as of yet.

To make this post more useful, why not include the date your site was initially effected by bourbon, and then the date you're seeing recovery.


 6:55 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

no change for me :(


 6:56 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

No changes here yet either, but google revamps
seem to occur on holiday weekends, so I'm hopefull.


 6:59 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

bourbon was good for me but my site is 95% out now ...
there is more than bourbon here... ugh


 7:01 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)


It would also be interesting to know whether those NOT affected 20/21 May are now being hit.

Our site 1: Affected 20/21 May back 30th June
Our site 2: Affected June 16th back 30th June

Reseller: >thanks very much GG - all of us here owe you one.<

To clarify I was actually refering to the people who work so hard on our sites!


 7:07 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

The "not penalized or banned" Google message comes across like a bad joke, when there is no more traffic coming in for quality site with rich content.

Still a drop since bourbon of 99% but at least still with top listings at Yahoo, Altavista, DMOZ etc.

Funnily enough, there imgres servers from all countries are still trying to display loads of our images at Google images search.

Great guys at Google!


 7:33 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

I wonder whether they have switched back to pre-Bourbon algos!

Definately not reseller. I can tell you that before Bourbon my site suffered from hijacking, and the sandbox. I reported seeing a different set of results about two days ago, but everyone seemed to ignore it.


I moved up a couple of spots and started to appear on more keywords. Perhaps not a full update, but something changed.

Rx Recruiters

 7:36 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Back to pre-Bourbon rankings for one of my sites!

I had been ranked #1 in the serps for the past year for a highly targeted key word, then after Bourbon I had dropped into oblivion. From 10,000 referrals a day from Google to 10 to 20. Then June 30 at around midnight I was watching my "live" stats and where they were coming from .. and bemoaning the fact that I had only 8 Google refs in the past 24 hours. Then .... A Google ref came in, then another, then another ... then pretty soon the entire page was Google refs! Quadruple my usual post-Bourbon daily visitor count, and back to about 85% of my pre-Bourbon visitor count. Will it last? I sure hope so.


 7:39 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

[I was watching my "live" stats and where they were coming from...]

How do you watch "live" stats?

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