We changed the structure for our site in order to improve user experience. Because we had new directories, and therefore new URLs, we 301 redirected the old pages to the new pages.
After a week, all the new URLs started showing up in Google and no ranking was lost. Everything appeared to have worked great and we enjoyed consistent site traffic for a good 3 weeks. But then 1 month after the initial site restructure, the new pages started dropping in Google's rankings and so did our traffic!
An example of an old page is:
(Previously ranked #2 for a 2-word phrase)
Which now 301 redirects to the new page:
(Currently ranks #26 - and dropping - for the same 2-word phrase)
I first reported this problem in the Google Group, Google Webmaster help.
I was informed that with the restructuring of my site, I created duplicate pages that may be negatively affecting our ranking. We found this issue and corrected it. After initially correcting this issue, the site ranking improved from 17 to 12 immediately. Then today (about 4 weeks later), Google finally dropped around 6,000 of our duplicate pages from its index. Unfortunately, we didn't see improvements in the results. Instead we dropped further, now at #26.
Does anyone know what might have caused this sudden drop other than the duplicate pages? Why after correcting the duplicate page problem are the results worse? Will my ranking eventually come back, and if so how long should I expect it to take?
[edited by: tedster at 5:59 am (utc) on July 1, 2008]
[edit reason] I changed the specifics [/edit]