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Refresh of Websites causes SERP demise

 12:23 am on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hi everyone,

With all the talk of algo changes and Refreshes, I'm a bit frantic at the moment, and would appreciate it if anyone has experienced similar symptoms to what I'm seeing.

I have 8 websites, which all reside under the same domain (they are each located in separate subdirectories of my domain). Several of these sites have ranked highly for some keywords in the SERPs for several years.

I maintain a Google Sitemap for all sites, which gets visited on a daily basis by GoogleBot.

Several days ago, I made a sweeping change across all my sites, where I added a copyright statement. As such, the <lastmod> field was updated accordingly for all the effected pages (probably 100 or so) in my sitemap. Most of these pages are designated by me as <changefreq> MONTHLY, although a few of my frequently changed pages are labeled as WEEKLY.

In any event, to my utter surprise and dismay, all my highly ranked SERPS for the above-mentioned keywords, no longer are ranked anywhere (not even in the Top 100). The pages themselves are still indexed in Google (that I have verified), but my rankings are gone today.

I have literally received ZERO traffic to my sites today, as a result.

Has anyone experienced similar results from comparable changes, OR does anyone have a possible explanation for this?

I am panicked, and would appreciate any feedback possible.

Thanks in advance,




 1:18 am on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

< This post was move here from another location - it seems to describe a similar occurance. >

3 month old site. About 3-4 weeks ago I completely re-did my site navigation as I was afraid it might be considered spammy. Many instances of green "widget" yellow "widget" etc.. Also changed all meta page titles and descriptions to be more unique from one another.

Almost immediately my pages started dropping out of the index. A week later only my homepage was indexed.

Now it has been almost 3 weeks and only my homepage is indexed. The homepage can still be found for some search terms so I'm hoping this means my site wasn't banned?

I'm trying not to panic but I'm getting nervous that this could be permanent? Anyone ever had this happen before?

Could it be possible that Google is just taking its sweet time to re-index my site?

Thank you in advance for any input!


[edited by: tedster at 4:44 am (utc) on Dec. 21, 2006]


 5:41 am on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

I do not remember hearing or experiencing anything like what you have described. Since both of you have experienced it, it is very strange and odd, and I'm not certain what Google filter or portion of the algorithm would lead to such an odd effect.


 11:40 am on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Is it possible that Google won't re-spider the "Monthly" effected pages until the beginning of the month, and has flagged these current pages as older, thus effecting the ranking of my main sites?

Patrick Taylor

 12:15 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Could it be possible that Google is just taking its sweet time to re-index my site?

For a small(ish) new website with only a handful of incoming links, Google can take its sweet time to do anything much at all. After three months a site like that probably has only a toe-hold in the index, and I would guess that navigation changes site-wide could easily mean that pages trip out for a while before they eventually return. The time to make judgements is after a year or so, rather than three months.


 12:31 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Just got the Christmas Present from google i didn't want :(

My Christina Aguilera site has gone from 5 to 737 in google SERPS.


 12:37 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

My site (domain) has been in existence for 10+ years, Patrick. I think you were confusing me with the other poster (3 months old site).

That is what is most disturbing. The longevity of my domain has definitely helped contribute to my high SERPS ranking in the past. It is this Refresh of all pages, that has precipitated my going into Never-Never land (presumably).

I'm wondering if switching my sitemap designations from MONTHLY to WEEKLY, might accelerate my spidering, and return to the SERPS?


 12:44 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)


You said "I have 8 websites, which all reside under the same domain". Are all websites setup as sub-domains or are they different domains setup on one website? Please explain. This might be where your problem lies.


 12:50 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)


They are all one domain, with each website a subdirectory under the domain. For example,


I have had this structure for the better part of 10 years.


 12:57 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't believe it's your refresh that's caused any problem, it's definitely a G thing. I've been wiped out the same for a 10 yr old site yet still indexed.

I seem to remember the same happening about 18 months or so ago and am going to check my logs to see how long it took for things to revert back to normal.

I'm seeing many of my competitors' sites missing too.


 1:22 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)


Before the total wipeout of rankings last night (12/20), I had seen a decrease in traffic leading up to last night, since the beginning of the month. Since I had a decrease in traffic, it prompted me to look into rankings.

Lo and behold, my rankings had dropped a notch (not significant) EXCEPT for some key 2-word phrases, which dropped me from 1st page ranking to Page 4.

None of this is looking too good at the moment. I am literally getting ZERO traffic to any of my sites now from Google.


 1:23 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

P.S. to last post,

Many of my competitors are still ranking well, for my effected keyword searches.

Patrick Taylor

 3:49 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

doughayman, yes, I quoted Boogalou.

Best of luck with this. I think the conventional wisdom is to sit things out awhile, think about something else, and take another look in two weeks. Not easy, I know.


 4:19 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

This looks related to the topic I posted here: [webmasterworld.com...] . My traffic too had decreased before the complete wipe out.

I will sit tight as, to be honest, I wouldn't know what to change on the site. The strange thing is, for one or two keyword combinations the site still ranks well, but 95% of Google traffic has gone.

[edited by: Wibfision at 4:20 pm (utc) on Dec. 21, 2006]


 6:02 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

I will sit tight as, to be honest, I wouldn't know what to change on the site.

Like many of you, I've been on the web long enough to remember when it was considered to be a GOOD thing to "refresh"/"update" your website.

Now, thanks to Google's erratic behavior -- that someone in another thread accurately described as comparable to a "mad sniper" -- we think long and hard before considering ANY kind of modification to one of our pages.

So instead of a dynamic web, Google is fostering a static web. Many of us here have been beating the drum for over a year to have some sort of indication from Google as to WHY they all of a sudden will drop an entire website from the SERP's. This thread is a perfect example of the importance of such a notification.

The lesson we are all learning? Change anything on your site and you just might die.



 11:01 am on Dec 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

Change anything on your site and you just might die.

And you won't know for sure if what you did caused the problem or if it was.. algo tweak, bad data push, data refresh, scraper exploit, update, etc.


 6:21 pm on Dec 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

COpyright statement, if its too long, and appears on all pages simultaneously, can trip a duplicate content filter. How long is too long, nobody knows that. There is another thread discussing exactly that right now -- it just might be your problem, assuming that all else is fine.


 6:41 pm on Dec 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

COpyright statement,
medical disclaimer, legal disclaimer, any Object Oriented Website construction like Wiki Templates, shopping and CMS might be vulnerable too. They need a pre 2000 pure HTML web, cause that's where their algorithms work.

 1:52 am on Dec 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

Put all your redundant content in an IFrame to avoid duplicate content issues. Hide a Copyright statement as a comment or meta tag in the pages themselves also (for protection). Mark the page pointed to by the IFrame "robots=noindex".


 7:14 pm on Dec 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

people still havent grasped that updating a site or even just a page can see that page plummet as a result?.....its been that way since BD....of course not EVERY site that updates loses postion because of it..but if you think this is not a real factor for many sites and individual pages then..well..i just dont know what youve been looking at....


 10:29 pm on Dec 25, 2006 (gmt 0)


Has anyone experienced similar results from comparable changes, OR does anyone have a possible explanation for this?

In August 2005 I have had a thread which you may wish to view. Maybe its of relevance to your question:

Site dropped due to "Gaming Google" - Are you gaming Google without being aware of that? [webmasterworld.com]

I hope this helps!


 12:21 am on Dec 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

reseller, thank you for that link...

And if I may add... you may certainly change many things on your pages for many different reasons, mainly marketing/informational/users purposes. But if any of the changes is followed by say, a keyword ratio test on any of the public tools, I think you are then toast. This is proof of intention.


 12:26 am on Dec 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

Having a site rank well for 10 years and then tank may be because Google changed it's algorithym and there is something wrong with the site that is no longer acceptable, or it can be because Google became aware of a problem with the refresh of all pages, i.e., it reindexed all pages because of the changes and then noticed the sub domains, which if they are all on the same topic may have caused a penalty.


 12:50 am on Dec 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

> its been that way since BD.

Perhaps even before too. I had one page #1 for a really competitive term for almost 2 years. One day back in Nov 2005 I discovered the stories listed all had a syntax error -something as trivial as a punctuation mark-. I thought of users and how bad this made the page look. So I went ahead with the change and the page disappeared within days to only start ranking again 3 or 4 months later. It showed back up on page 1 after 6 months but it never made it back to #1 and at present the rankings are just average.

At the time, my thought was that such page may have had a history of slow updates and that a sudden, site-wide tweak sent out the wrong signal. This had a chilling effect as I became overly cautious about updating that site.


 3:25 am on Dec 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

Interesting Reseller, this certainly may apply to me here, although I find the evidence not fully supportive.

My intent for change was certainly genuine, and now I wish I had never done it.

However, I never changed any meta tags (Title or description). It was purely page text. The % of text changed, relative to the entire page sizes, was extremely minute. Moreover, even though my Sitemap reflected the changes and has been retrieved by Google (since I made these universal changes), Googlebot has only obtained a fraction of those pages since they have been changed. In fact, I'm surprised that they haven't spidered more since December 20th. This would imply, in theory, that the "gaming penalty" is not the culprit of my SERP demise.

Do you recommend that I do anything to help reinstate myself, if in fact, this is the cause?

Thank you for pointing this out. I've done this before, and was never hit like this though. I changed every page in 4 of 9 websites, which are all in subdirectories off my root domain, as explained in my initial post in this thread.


 4:54 am on Dec 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

P.S. to last post,

I still rank on Page 3 of a 4-keyword phrase that matches the Title of one of my websites. There are also several ancillary (not major) keywords where I rank.

Hence, I haven't been banned, my main pages are NOT in supplemental, but I have lost rank for 99 % of my keywords.

Just trying to piece the mess together, by presenting these facts.


 9:53 am on Dec 26, 2006 (gmt 0)


yup....now....make some more changes to that page and each time you come back i think you will find it ranking less than the time before...keep updating it and eventually it will never rank.....

my assumption is that part of the algo is now geared to preventing playing around with seeing how different versions of a page rank...but in the real world for sites that dont come under the holy grail of trusted it means you cant keep updating your widget pages....

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