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Sitewide update five days ago, now removed from SERPs
olly




msg:4149738
 3:24 pm on Jun 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

I wonder if anybody has encountered something similar to this..

Basically we overhauled one of our websites completely. We preserved all original URLs - the changes were to do with layout, design and, in a few cases, new content.

The above went live on Friday. Approximately 2 days later the site was removed from the SERPS for some of it's major terms - these terms are competitive and we have always ranked in the top 5 due to an authoritative domain name, and on and off site SEO optimisation.

We are not too worried and speculate that the removal of the site is due to Google having flagged the site because so many changes took place - perhaps a change of this magnitude is usually synonymous with attacks or undesirable occurences.

My question is, has anybody experienced something similar to this? Do we need to be worried? Is there any way to speed up the return to the SERPS?

Thanks

 

tranquilito




msg:4149824
 5:31 pm on Jun 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

Are you sure you kept the same titles, meta tags, h1, h2, etc ? Absolutely no modification on these elements ?

Esoos




msg:4149827
 5:38 pm on Jun 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

Did you accidentally leave sitewide noindex/nofollow robots meta tags in place? I've seen that happen before when having a development version of a site go live.

olly




msg:4149896
 7:14 pm on Jun 9, 2010 (gmt 0)


Are you sure you kept the same titles, meta tags, h1, h2, etc ? Absolutely no modification on these elements ?


I have just investigated and I see that h1 tags have been changed - there were previously 5 <h1> tags on the homepage and now there is just one <h1> tag with different text. Everything else is as it was before. Could something this minor have caused this?


Did you accidentally leave sitewide noindex/nofollow robots meta tags in place? I've seen that happen before when having a development version of a site go live.


I cannot see the presence of any robots meta tags..

tedster




msg:4149939
 8:12 pm on Jun 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

there were previously 5 <h1> tags on the homepage and now there is just one <h1> tag with different text


That was essentially a good change. Semantically most pages should only have a single H1 tag.

olly




msg:4152367
 2:59 pm on Jun 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

I see in WMT you can request a Site Reconsideration from Google. Is this a good idea? Its been 10 days now, and our organic rankings have absolutely plummeted.

drall




msg:4152401
 4:06 pm on Jun 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

Before you do a Site Reconsideration which will have a Google employee looking very closely at your site the questions I would be asking myself include.

- Did the amount of content onpage change radically from before?
- Did internal navigation change radically?
- Is the overhaul causing a technical issue with Google crawling the site?
- Are rankings stable in other engines? Crawling and indexing ok in other engines?
- Have you I used the tool in WMT to view our site as googlebot views it.
- DNS ok?
- Server security still intact? Did the overhaul include a new script or app that opened the server to a new security vuln?

I experienced something similar with one of our sites that ranked for some incredible terms that took over a decade to rank for. After the redesign it took a couple months for the site to move back up to its original levels.

We changed a huge amount of onpage though and I suspect it may have looked suspicious to Google so it dampered us and ran the site through its systems again.

Also one thing to keep in mind is the huge changes taking place in Google right now. Perhaps this is just a coincidence?

incrediBILL




msg:4152407
 4:18 pm on Jun 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

If you haven't been penalized, meaning your site still shows up in the index, there's no reason for a re-inclusion request because you haven't been removed, just demoted due to SEO changes that backfired.

There's no amount of re-inclusion requests that can fix changes that impacted the site SEO.

It's possible the total site change triggered a temporary change in the index and you could wait it out but I'm thinking that I'd put the old site back up ASAP and see what happens.

tedster




msg:4152459
 6:00 pm on Jun 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

The situation used to be exactly that way. But now it's called a "reconsideration" request, and no longer a re-inclusion request. So you can submit a reconsideration request even if you have pages showing up in the site: operator. There is some good information about how to create a successful request in the video linked from this thread: Reconsideration Request Tips [webmasterworld.com]

[edited by: coopster at 8:24 pm (utc) on Jun 14, 2010]
[edit reason] fixed misspelling [/edit]

dvduval




msg:4152520
 7:32 pm on Jun 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

If you have strong anchor text and have not changed the title tag, and the main difference is you have one H1 tag instead of five, that makes me wonder if this is a case of google caffeine quickly noticing there have been changes, but then backlogging the consideration of the changes you made, or worse, applying a sandbox like effect to websites that have undergone significant changes.

I have been having a similar problem. I almost feel like making improvements to your site (even those recommended by google or its staff) can have short term negative effects. I am just staying calm and thinking wishfully that because I have made improvements that google would 100% score better, I will soon see the benefits of my work. But I must say it is unfortunate to see short term setbacks, though this is nothing new to me.

In closing I do feel there is a sandbox affect applied when there are significant changes to a site and would love to get some feedback on how you agree or disagree.

incrediBILL




msg:4152527
 7:45 pm on Jun 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

"reconsideration" request, and no longer a re-inclusion request


OOPS! I must've missed the memo.

Guess never needing to be reconsidered it was never much of an issue.

Now I have to go research this change ... ;)

olly




msg:4158003
 11:57 pm on Jun 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi everyone, just wanted to give an update on this situation with some more information:

* Site was updated across the board about 3 weeks ago
* Just homepage is not showing up in SERPS, other nested pages are showing up for their targeted keywords
* Homepage is cached, I can see it when I perform a "site:" command
* Homepage shows 20th June 2010 as its last cache date
* I cannot see homepage in results even when I go to "omitted results"
* I can see another page in the domain ranking on page 5 for one of the main keywords - this must mean that it is allowing us to compete for the main keywords but that the homepage is not allowed

From the data it seems clear that just the homepage (which has the highest PR and competes for the main terms) is completely missing from the SERPS. The only search I can do to bring up the homepage in the results is if I search for our actual domain name.

My conclusion on the situation is that we have tripped some flag or filter and have been temporarily removed - it's just odd that it is only the homepage that has been removed. Another possibility was that we have aquired too many incoming links with similar anchor text to the homepage, but it seems odd timing that it is around a major update. And too many similar incoming links should flag us for keywords rather than having the page removed from the index I would imagine.

Given the health of other SEO aspects I think that it is nothing to worry about and the page will return over time. Any contrary arguments would be very welcome though!

drall




msg:4158088
 2:33 am on Jun 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

If it was me I would go with what Incredibill said and I would revert back to my old site asap and do a full workover of the version that was tested.

helpnow




msg:4158101
 3:15 am on Jun 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

When you search for a unique phrase that is present only on your homepage, what do you get?

idolw




msg:4158143
 5:01 am on Jun 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

are you sure internal links navigation has not been changed?
If it was changed, what changes were made?

olly




msg:4158320
 11:41 am on Jun 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

When you search for a unique phrase that is present only on your homepage, what do you get?


When I do this, the homepage still does not show. The only thing that brings up the homepage is if I search for the actual domain name.

are you sure internal links navigation has not been changed?


Not much has changed here. The home page underwent the most changes, so it now links to different products and categories than were previously linked.

helpnow




msg:4158362
 1:22 pm on Jun 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

"When I do this, the homepage still does not show. The only thing that brings up the homepage is if I search for the actual domain name. "

How many results are there, 0? Or, are are there lots and lots of results, but you can't see your home page? Are you sure the phrase you searched for is unique to your home page?

olly




msg:4158372
 1:31 pm on Jun 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi helpnow, when I search for "ourdomain.com" in google, there are loads of results and our homepage is #1.

If I search for unique text on the homepage, it does not show at all.

helpnow




msg:4158397
 2:10 pm on Jun 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

"Hi helpnow, when I search for "ourdomain.com" in google, there are loads of results and our homepage is #1."

That is a terrific sign!

"If I search for unique text on the homepage, it does not show at all. "

Sorry, this is a point I want to hammer down: Are there ANY results from any pages for that search? If not, Are you sure you are searching the right phrase? If you are positive, is this text that has changed recently? To be sure, go back to the "ourdomain.com" search, and grab a chunk of text out of the cache of the page, so we can be sure you are searching text that google currently knows about from your home page. If there are other results, how many, because what we want is a phrase UNIQUE to your home page, something not found anywhere else...

I am wondering if the content on your home page is duplicated elsewhere, and thus, if your home page as a straight result has been filtered out, although of course it shows when you do a "ourdomain.com" search.

idolw




msg:4158427
 2:38 pm on Jun 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Not much has changed here. The home page underwent the most changes, so it now links to different products and categories than were previously linked.


so the number and anchor texts of internal links to homepage did not change?

olly




msg:4158428
 2:38 pm on Jun 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi helpnow, thanks for all the assistance.

Yes, there are results when I search for the unique text, but only from thin, completely unrelated, spammy sites that seem to have indexed snippets from our homepage as well as competitors' homepages.

I can confirm that our homepage is definitely not showing up for searches which contain text unique and specific to itself and that the pages that do show up are complete spam at best and have not duplicated the entire content of the homepage, just snippets.

Mark_A




msg:4158436
 2:44 pm on Jun 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

I am monitoring this thread also, I am interested to know 1) what did olly the webmaster do wrong? and 2) what kind of penalty has been applied if it has and 3) what can be done to get out of it! .....

Oh and best of luck to olly the OP, I hope you do get out of it :-)

marketingmagic




msg:4158512
 4:00 pm on Jun 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've done quite a few redesigns/SEO restructuring of sites and it's not uncommon for the site to disappear from the index for several weeks till it's recrawled and reindexed. I wouldn't freak out and put the old site up unless it's already been 4-8 weeks.

1EightT




msg:4158582
 5:17 pm on Jun 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

You said you updated the site about 5 days prior top this post. That happens to be the 3rd or 4th of June which is exactly when Google rolled out the changes to longtail rankings. I don't know that the site design caused the issues. More likely, it was the new algo.

olly




msg:4158791
 8:40 pm on Jun 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

I wouldn't freak out and put the old site up unless it's already been 4-8 weeks.

I am inclined to agree with this. We haven't done anything dodgy and I think the best strategy is to just wait, as there are no obvious reasons for not being present in the rankings. This is confirmed by the fact that, apart from the home page, the site is healthy from a ranking perspective.

I have also debated whether or not it was the site design. The fact is they are both major events. It seems to me that the algo change has done more damage to longtail rankings or small sites. Our site is pretty well established with 600+ pages, quite a few links and an authority domain name, with only the home page having been removed. So my money is still on a penalty imposed by the site update. I could be wrong though..

helpnow




msg:4159215
 1:59 pm on Jun 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

I would be tempted to rewrite the content on the home page, making sure the new content is unique. If I understand correctly, the site is now back, just the home page is gone.

bbarbeau




msg:4195585
 2:41 pm on Sep 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

olly, how has this shaken out for you in the weeks and months since?

I have a client who launched a redesign almost a month ago, and we've been experiencing very similar repercussions, so I am extremely interested to hear whether your site recovered and if so, how long it took.

There were some differences between our situations, which I'll outline for the sake of adding to general knowledge. (Hope that isn't against forum etiquette; I know in the official Google forums it's a no-no.)

Anyhow, the client launched the redesign and within a few days slipped from page 1 to page 2 to nowhere for some of their most competitive keywords.

URLs remained the same, content (simply in terms of body text, product descriptions, etc.) remained largely the same.

A major thing I noticed in investigating the crash was that internal link size more than doubled in the wake of the redesign. Part of the jump was caused by going from a static, image-only top navigation section to a CSS-driven text link top nav with primary links going across the top, groups of secondary links dropping down on hover, and even tertiary links popping to the side when hovering over secondary links.

Moreover, the structure of these links in the source code was all jacked up... they displayed fine in the browser, but they read in the source going from right to left, and from secondary to primary (rather than primary to secondary and from left to right). This meant that all the mission-critical text links in the primary navigation were placed at the bottom of the navigation div in the source code.

Another issue was that the bulk of the body copy was relegated to the bottom 1/4 of the page. So we had them change around the order of the source, and removed the tertiary links altogether from the top nav. We've also recommended nofollowing many of the additional links, which arose from adding social sharing buttons, but they haven't implemented this yet. (There are no social sharing buttons on the home page anyways, which is the primary page effected by losses.)

So much for Google's advice of doing things for the end user, as if search engines weren't there. The tertiary links were completely meant to minimize the number of user clicks to get to their page of interest. But I think the result to Google was that they hemorrhaged PageRank throughout the site. (The site has enjoyed very nice boosts in Yahoo and Bing following the redesign.)


They still have internal pages ranking well for a few terms. But the home page is almost entirely out of sight.

site: searches don't list it as the first result. On a site: search, the home page ranks #221.

Unique text on the home page doesn't rank when searched for. Only a few scrape/spam sites do. (Exact phrase searches of interior page text does return the target page at #1.)


So yeah... any additional info about how your site has fared in the wake of the index page drop would help me out bunches I'm sure.

Robert Charlton




msg:4195743
 7:09 pm on Sep 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

A major thing I noticed in investigating the crash was that internal link size more than doubled in the wake of the redesign. Part of the jump was caused by going from a static, image-only top navigation section to a CSS-driven text link top nav with primary links going across the top, groups of secondary links dropping down on hover, and even tertiary links popping to the side when hovering over secondary links.

IMO, too many links on the home page can be a disaster... changing a logically organized navigation hierarchy into a situation with so many links on home that your important links are de-emphasized, and also confusing what the home page is about for the engines (and, I should add, for users).

Re nofollowing links, I wouldn't recommend this as a way to sculpt PageRank. Too many recent discussions even to cite one.

bbarbeau




msg:4195781
 9:08 pm on Sep 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the info, Robert. I'll definitely research more on the nofollow before bringing it up with them again.

And you said it right... this has been a disaster for sure.

I had them remove the tertiary links, but left the secondaries. Those were generally just shifted from body links in the old design to top nav links in the new one.

Any idea how long it would take a site to recover from a internal linking blunder such as this? Or is there anything else I can do to get the site to rebound?

I'm of the opinion that we need to stop making changes to it and just let Google digest it for a while. But if there's something I can/should be doing now, it'd be better to know sooner rather than later. :)

mcskoufis




msg:4196409
 5:44 am on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

The last site I worked on and had a major restructuring of URLs, content and navigation took about 6-8 months to see some of the old traffic back and some new rankings in Google.

Since I wasn't seeing any positive results after 4 months I started getting links from some authoritative sources and I feel that it is likely this boosted the site and not that the "sandbox" filter was taken off...

Also something which may or may not be the case with your site is the fact that the new restructuring reduced the URLs in Google's index by nearly 100,000 (duplicate) URLs, which I suspect is what caused the site to stay in the "sandbox" for so long.

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