It could be so many things - including some technical problems on either your site or on Google's part.
Have you set up a Webmaster Tools account? That would be one place I would start checking.
We have had a Webmaster Tools account for a long time. Nothing shows up in there as a potential cause, technical or otherwise. Multiple "reconsideration" requests have gone unanswered.
We are part of an affiliate program. We have affiliate links on the site but always have.
The only major site changes in the past six months were changing two directories on the site (example.com/directory/ to example.com/new-directory/) and changing some pages from html to php. We have taken care of all 301s via htaccess. We are confident that all 301s are coded correctly.
In addition, we added "nofollow" to a couple of inbound links, but that was a complete reach, as it is extremely doubtful that the links had anything to do with a drop.
No change in site design. No change in site navigation. No change in hosts. No new inbound links. Content created is 100% original.
The silence to my questions here is very symbolic to my problem. It is very, very confusing and I can't come up with any possible causes.
Competitor black hat tactics? That's my last guess. Anyone have any tips about how to look into this sort of activity other than link: searches, which are pretty much useless anyway?
|All pages show up for site:example.com. |
How many pages are we talking about?
What happens when you click on the listed pages?
Are the pages showing as www.example.com, or example.com, or a combination of both?
|The only major site changes in the past six months were changing two directories on the site (example.com/directory/ to example.com/new-directory/) and changing some pages from html to php. We have taken care of all 301s via htaccess. We are confident that all 301s are coded correctly. |
How many pages were 301'd and are the new ones showing as cached or the old?
Having felt some Google rath myself over the years I know how tempting it is to start thinking its something they did, but the best place to start looking for the problem is internally, some technical snafu on your end.
A site:example.com search claims about 1,000 pages, which is correct. However, there are really only 426 in the index. There are no results past page 43.
All pages are showing up as www.example.com
A total of about 15 pages were 301'd. The new pages are showing up normally in site: searches but we no longer get any URLs in keyword searches of any kind. We went to zero traffic.
Whats the status of the site in Yahoo and MSN? Any changes at all there?
No changes in Yahoo / MSN rankings at all.
Double check for the duplicate content. Maybe some scrapper duplicated the whole site. Use Google, Yahoo and MSN to verify.
Double check your outgoing links. Maybe some site you are linking to has gone "bad".
Check if any "bad" site does not hot link your images.
Thanks all for your input and suggestions. Special thanks to gabriel_k. I did some searching based on your suggestions and found the culprit.
A site duplicated our entire site back a few months ago and was actually ranking higher than us for some of our original articles and other original content.
How in the world would this site ever rank higher than ours for our original content that was published months (sometimes many months) earlier? I can't believe that such a weak scheme worked. And we pay the price.
The duplicate site is now gone. Now we wait and see what happens. At least there are finally some answers.
I'm keeping fingers crossed.
How in the world would this site ever rank higher than ours for our original content that was published months (sometimes many months) earlier?
According to me there is no intention of Google to favor scrappers. The problem is that google is not able to tell the scrapper and the lazy webmaster that moved content on a new domain without redirecting the old one.