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From 500 uniques to 50 uniques in 1 day - troubleshooting ideas?
pbmadman




msg:3337871
 6:10 am on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well, I thought I was immune from the -30 and -950 penalties. I read it happen to everyone else, and thought my site was too "honest" for it to happen to me. Well, on 5/4, my G referrals went from 500 daily to 50 daily. I haven't made any changes to the site in over 2 months. In webmaster central, I didn't see any changes. My PR on the toolbar did go down by 1, like many on this forum mentioned. However, most of the forum participants noted that it did not affect their traffic. Since I lost 90% of traffic in one day, and I didn't notice a flurry of similar posts, I'm suspecting that an algo change affecting just a few sites may have taken place.

I still seem to be getting referrals from G, just a lot less. What other kinds of troubleshooting can I do?

 

simonmc




msg:3337887
 6:48 am on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

A lot of people equate these kind of drops to honesty. I see you too have been guilty of that too.

People need to wake up to the fact that the Google Algos are so complex that a tweak here or there can take out swathes of good sites. Until it happens to you though you remain in denial. We in the UK call it Friendly Fire, the US are particularly good at it :)

The good thing is that it nearly always corrects itself. The problem though is that you are a bit too close to thier radar now and you may find your site flip-flopping as they tweak the algos and filters.

The best thing to do is read the stickies in this thread, see if you are guilty of any of the technical errors that Google wants you to solve.

Bought links are the new "BLACK HAT". Have they devauled your link building?

Good luck in recovering and believe me when I say this...a lot of it will be down to luck.

andrewshim




msg:3337925
 8:37 am on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

pbmadman... welcome... I landed here 2 days before you did... went from 400+ uniques to 20.

malachite




msg:3337942
 9:15 am on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

pbmadman (and andrewshim) is your 5/4 date in US format, ie you mean 4th May not 5th April? I ask because the same thing happened to me around 5th April.

90% of G traffic gone and apart from a handful of pages, the site was either totally supplemental or gone from the index completely. Neither the -30 or -950 scenarios seemed to quite fit the problem.

As for what caused the drop in my case, I've no idea as there were several possibles that all happened at once, including me stuffing up the URLs big time, so I don't know which one was the 'culprit'. It may have been nothing I'd done as this happens every year when G tweaks its algo. So far, the site has always bounced back and gone on to be stronger than before.

The good news is that after watching G shuffle a few pages per day in and a few others disappear completely, things started to come good again exactly 1 month later on 5th May. So far, it's still putting pages back in and things are almost back to 'normal'. I've always had some supplementals, which is to be expected.

It seems like the site was put on a 30-day penalty.

Suggest you take the opportunity to clean your site up anyway, and see if you bounce back in 30 days (or sooner!). :)

webastronaut




msg:3337951
 9:34 am on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

mmm...simonmc from the UK...
who's got your back? USA maybe? I would love to see another country compete with the search engine giants but it seems no other country does.

mattg3




msg:3337987
 10:59 am on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

mmm...simonmc from the UK...
who's got your back? USA maybe? I would love to see another country compete with the search engine giants but it seems no other country does.

As a German in the UK, I can tell you it's called british humour. Don't take it too seriously.

The points he made are valid in as such, one might have unsolicited nbound links. Google machines are stupid. They can maybe detect that there is a link rich, content poor net of sites thaEt mention SO. If you are on it, even unasked Google shoots you down if they reach a certain percentage imo. Let's call it collateral damage.

And he is also right when he says it's gonna be down to luck if one gets out of there.

mattg3




msg:3337989
 11:02 am on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Suggest you take the opportunity to clean your site up anyway, and see if you bounce back in 30 days (or sooner!). :)

I don't think cleaning up ones sites helps. The problem is one needs to clean up other peoples site. :\

malachite




msg:3338141
 4:42 pm on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don't think cleaning up ones sites helps.

You don't? That's your prerogative. :)

It certainly doesn't do any harm though, and the OP could do a lot worse than check for inadvertent dupe content, multiple URLs leading to the same page, www v non-www issues, dead links, making sure the site returns proper 404s, etc., etc.

It may be that none of the above have contributed to the problem, but it's good policy anyway and won't do him or his visitors any harm for the site to get a spring clean.

tedster




msg:3338171
 5:45 pm on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

There are a number of good threads linked from our Hot Topics [webmasterworld.com] area that we keep pinned to the top of this forum's index page. There are many troubleshooting ideas listed in there, including further details on the ideas that malachite offered.

pbmadman




msg:3338338
 10:31 pm on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

malachite: when I mentioned 5/4, it was US format, so May 4.

I'm glad to know that the traffic may come back, though somewhat disappointed that luck is such a big part of it :-)

What is the best way to check for the "supplemental" problem that several have mentioned here?

andrewshim




msg:3338356
 11:25 pm on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

yep malachite... May 02.

Site seems to have gone supplemental.
Right now cannot find my homepage when searching for my domain name although using site:www.example.com gives me all my pages.
Traffic down to 20%. Earnings too.

For me may be two things :

- I noticed my in Webmaster Tools that Google encountered a URL timeout when crawling my most busy page on April 19. Could have been an outage that I wasn't aware of.

- And probably IBLs devalued.

In any case, what happened has thought be a couple of good lessons...

malachite




msg:3338551
 10:44 am on May 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

What is the best way to check for the "supplemental" problem that several have mentioned here?

Do a site:example.com search on Google and see what comes back. Your supplemental pages will say 'supplemental result' after them.

Repeat for site:www.example.com and compare the results. You may discover you have a www v non-www issue.

While you're at it, especially if you're using a CMS, check that there isn't a dupe content issue with multiple URLs pointing to the same page. If there is, 301 the 'dupes' to the correct URL.

And lastly (or maybe firstly!), read the Hot Topics which Tedster linked to earlier. There's lots of useful stuff in there. Good luck. :)

malachite




msg:3338555
 11:04 am on May 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

andrewshim,

Does your homepage come up if you search for it without the www? This was a problem on one of my sites; after happily indexing it with the www's for three years, G suddenly indexed the homepage (and only the homepage) without them and returned nothing when searching for the domain name. A search without the www's found it straight away. This now resolved by 301 redirect from non-www to www, which I've implemented on all my other sites as well, just in case. ;)

Does the site:www.example.com show your pages as supplemental or non-supplemental? If they're showing as non-supplemental and you've simply 'disappeared' from the index, you may have a -950 penalty which I didn't seem to have.

- I noticed my in Webmaster Tools that Google encountered a URL timeout when crawling my most busy page on April 19. Could have been an outage that I wasn't aware of.

I don't know if an outage on one page would cause this problem; we had a total outage - just one of the 'possibles' I referred to earlier. Do read the "Hot Topics", I got red eyes from all the reading, but found a lot of help in there.

Hope you bounce back quickly :).

andrewshim




msg:3338596
 1:13 pm on May 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

Does your homepage come up if you search for it without the www?

Searching with and without www returns the homepage. It's only missing when I search for the domain without the www. and .com. Homepage used to be right there at #1.

Does the site:www.example.com show your pages as supplemental or non-supplemental? If they're showing as non-supplemental and you've simply 'disappeared' from the index, you may have a -950 penalty which I didn't seem to have.

both www and non-www search produces the same results - 90+ percent of the site has gone supplemental. About a year ago, I added a variable in my URL string so about 450+ URL's went from :

http://www.example.com?variable=1
to
http://www.example.com?variable=value1&variable2=value2

But this had no effect on my rankings for almost six month when I was at #1.

I don't know if an outage on one page would cause this problem; we had a total outage - just one of the 'possibles' I referred to earlier. Do read the "Hot Topics", I got red eyes from all the reading, but found a lot of help in there.

Found one duplicate of my homepage (named index2.php) though... I did not delete it because it was used purely for testing and there was absolutely NO links pointing to that page. I wonder how Goog indexed it! I have sinced removed every test page from the server. Only time will tell if this was the case

Hope you bounce back quickly .

Hope so too... the traffic drop has really hurt... and will continue to hurt as advertisers pull out. For now, I have decided not to mess with this site (for fear of making things worse) and concentrate on adding and improving content for my other sites. Fortunately I have learnt many important lessons through this... ; /

pbmadman




msg:3340481
 10:20 pm on May 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

You guys were right. Amazingly, over a week or so, the traffic gradually came back. I notice that my sitewide Toolbar PR is one less, but it's a relief to have the traffic back. It's a very uneasy feeling however to know how fickle the google traffic is.

Bewenched




msg:3340497
 10:43 pm on May 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

The serps are terrible right now .. not just in our sector, but I was looking up some programming information and THE site that should have popped up in the top three was no where to be found. thank goodness for bookmarks, but I was shocked to see that the first 3 pages ... 3 pages of sites that came up all were running google ads on them. Some had good info (not what I was looking for) but they were running google ads.

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