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Homepage is not first SERP on site:mysite.com
reason to worry?

 4:03 am on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hello everyone.
I have this site that lost 99+% of its pages from index in late Jan 06'. I've been watching the number of indexed pages for awhile as it was dropping from 1,250,000 (clearly inflated number, there was never more than 400,000 pages) to 11,800. Then I found a problem with non-www redirecting to www version with 302 instead of 301. Fixed that, and the number of pages indexed dropped to 480.

Now, it then grew to 725 and stays there for couple of weeks but the problem is: another page is SERP #1 on site:mysite.com. The #1 page is by no means the most prominent and is not even linked to from anywhere but internal pages. The traffic from Google has been pretty stable (after a large drop in January)

This strikes me as unusual and possible sign of a trouble. So, checking with the collective wisdom of this community: has anyone seen something like that, is there a reason to worry about anything.




 5:37 am on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

A good thread that might help was started by Googleguy at [webmasterworld.com...] - It might be a good read for you. You are not alone from what I've read.


 6:19 am on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks, coosblues.
I've been through that thread pretty thoroughly, including all the external links from it.
Did not see people reporting this exact problem. I don't really see any supplementals anymore. However, in the process of getting rid of supplemental results for my site Google removed my homepage from the first spot in search results.

I can't really find any logic in putting another page ahead of the homepage which is why I posted thikning someone may have gone through this already.


 1:47 pm on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

I have the same problem with site:mysite.com for the second time. First time in september 05 large drop in the serp, return in place in december after 301 redirect on another domain which probably cause a duplicate content, then site:mysite.com show my home page.

Since 27th of march, site:mysite.com is show an another page that my home page and three days later another large drop and 80% loss of trafic from google.

So i think this problem is really a good clue for tell that there is a problem with our site.


 3:08 pm on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)


The same happened twice to my site and recovered in both cases. First time by making 301 redirect. Second time by just waiting for around a month or so and Google fixed it by itself.

My UK friend Dayo_UK called it at that time: Minor canonical url problem.


 9:17 pm on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't quite understand the question. I have a lot of pages that beat the homepage in SERPs.

The home page shows a toolbar PR of 4 - one page hung directly off it in the same directory has a PR of 6. Another index.html in a subdirectory also shows a 6.


 9:29 pm on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Just to clarify, the issue is the SERP for a site: query, not a general query. It is common for the Home Page to be returned first on a site: query.

Some people have found that the loss of the first position for a site: query presages other troubles.


 9:45 pm on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

as has been pointed out before..


homepage is not first


 10:57 pm on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

@ tedster:

Thank you, that was a direct answer to my question. It seemed rather unnatural that another page bit the homepage to #1 SERP on site:mysite.com query. Especially the page that does not have a single outside IBL to it.

@ soapystar:

www.google.com is #2 whereas www.google.com/finance is #1. There is really no clear way to tell if /finance is actually more popular because there are no links reported to it which I find pretty suspicious. There could be some non-search related reason that led Google to move /finance up a notch. I wonder what that is ;-)


 11:03 pm on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

@ reseller:

Could you please elaborate on the 301 you've mentioned. 301 from the page that's #1 to the homepage? That seems bad approach, at least in my case 'cause this is a totally separate page with its own valuable content I wouldn't want to loose. Did I misunderstand you?


 11:04 pm on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

@ anthoduff:

In addition to the drop of traffic, have you noticed any changes to the total number of indexed pages for the site?


 11:27 pm on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)


No. exactly the same number the first time before and after the drop.

More pages for the second time but it's part of natural growing of the site.

I think that we can't take the referencing of google.com as an example because it's google and if they have a 301 redirect problem or any other problems they wouldn't care...


 2:24 am on May 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

I have the same exact problem and worse the first page returned is a supplemental page and then the second page which is the home page.

Why would the supplemental page returned above all other and it is not even linked from outside


 2:44 am on May 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

If traffic from Google Search is not affected, I would not be concerned about the order of the pages returned with a site: query -- especially not right now with all the juggling and jiggling going on. Many of the "signs" we've watched in the past are not as telling as they were, now that the new infrastructure is in play.


 2:54 am on May 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Based on experience I have found if your index page shows below a random internal page (assuming you have no sub-domains) it may be bad news


Where does your site rank on search of:

(leave out the extension)

...is your actual site buried on pg.2-4 on those serps. This may be normal if your domain name is a generic competive word; however, not if you have a relatively unique domain name. I rank about 30 on a mydomain search with the 29 above me simply being listings of my site. There are ramblings about the problem on the thread below:



 7:47 am on May 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>>Minor canonical url problem.

Indeed - or early stages.....

This site ordering error/phenomena I am pretty sure means the sites suffer from a problem or a penalty.....

Whether it is Canonical issues I still think likely... Matt posted on his blog on the original Big Daddy post:-

We’d like to get general quality feedback. For example, this data center lays the groundwork for better canonicalization, although most of that will follow down the road. But some improvements are already visible with site: searches. The site: operator now returns more intuitive results (this is actually live at all data centers now).

So intuitive site results are related to Canonicalization problems/errors/improvements?

It is not just the site ordering though - do things like check related:www.domain.com and you will probably see your domain last (check this against a error/penalty free site and it will be first)

Also as stated you will probably be outranked for searches like your unique company name or domain name.

With reference to Google Finance being number 1 in a site:google.com search - I believe that Google maybe helping the launch of Finance with a boost in rankings.

I would not be concerned about the order of the pages returned with a site: query -- especially not right now with all the juggling and jiggling going on. Many of the "signs" we've watched in the past are not as telling as they were, now that the new infrastructure is in play.

Of those signs the Page rank is the one which is totally unreliable at the moment - with different sites/pages recieving a PR update at different times. I dont know if site ordering (and therefore Canonical issues) will settle down until Page Rank is universally applied to all pages using the same ranking factors.


 2:37 pm on May 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

@ Dayo_UK:

The site should have suffered from canonical issue because non-www was redirected to www version via 302 redirect by mistake. I tracked that down and it the time table looks like this: on Dec 16, 2005 the erroneous .htaccess was uploaded. On Jan 24, 2006 the massive page drop-out happened. Since then the traffic stayed on a pretty low but stable level. The problem was discovered and corrected on April 26. Since then the number of reported pages dropped even lower. Google traffic still was not affected.

Google does return the homepage on SERP #1 on related:mysite as well as just "mysite" as a keyword. Additionally, the site has just moved up(!) three positions, to #2 on a 20,800,000 results keyword. The one that it has been on the first page for (around SERP 6-7) for the last 3-4 years.

So, I'm totally confused. The number of pages indexed stuck on the lowest level ever yet the traffic did not go down after the dramatic initial fall-out. Neither did the fall-out negatively affect its position in SERPs on several important keywords I was tracking for years.

I guess, what I'm trying to find here is a way to get more pages indexed so some misc keywords also bring traffic, not only main ones, yet not damage the traffic from the original old set of the keywords.

Also, do you think it is possible that site:mysite.com is no longer returning reliable numbers, just like link:mysite.com never had?


 3:27 pm on May 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

My site is in the same boat as are others I've seen.

The index page is replaced with another page from the site when doing a search for the company name.

Since the site is clean, my only conclusion can be that Google has a problem.

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