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Main domain vanished

 8:10 pm on Oct 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

hi all,

i have been posting here and there haphazardly in few days (and i am really sorry, if i annoyed few guys) as my main domain site which is a PR6 and quite popular vanished with a drop in serp and 5/6 reduction in traffic

iam now noticing that, results for many terms are replaced by subdomain ... strange thing is that main domain pages are in collapsible + sign in subdomain result, which i can see,

is this a sign of penalty?

is it related to current indexing issue which google is facing?

i am in urgent need for help as this site is my bread and butter and i have no clue how did this happen :x



 8:30 pm on Oct 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Can you track any recent on page changes to the traffic change?

Did a developer inadvertently wipe out the SEO content of your top page(s)?


 8:31 pm on Oct 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

epmaniac for the members to be of some help I suggest a detailed report of the problem, changes made to the site, have you been doing anything that would draw a manual review, and any observations you have that could open a postitve discussion on your problem.

Robert Charlton

 8:40 pm on Oct 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi epmaniac. The following isn't quite clear to me....

iam now noticing that, results for many terms are replaced by subdomain ... strange thing is that main domain pages are in collapsible + sign in subdomain result, which i can see

From your description, it sounds like your pages are being use as content in a collapsible div that's appearing on a subdomain, and that your pages are being filtered out as dupe content. That's a gut level guess.

It's not clear whether this is your subdomain, or a subdomain on another site.

If another site, it could well be that your site has been scraped and used as semi-hidden content on a scraper subdomain. Do some exact (quoted) searches for, say, 5-word text strings on Google. Also, search Google for longer strings, of say a few sentences, unquoted. Additionally, check your missing pages on Copyscape.

None of the methods is 100% dependable in locating dupe content, but together they should turn up with something.

Additionally, try searches for your pages... both on the exact strings and on terms you used to rank for... and append &filter=0 to the end of the url (in the address bar) of the Google results page. This string turns off Google's dupe filter, and can be helpful in determining whether you're still in the index but have been filter as duplicate content.


 8:48 pm on Oct 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think epmaniac might mean the "Show more results from..." + sign in the SERPs, Robert.

epmaniac, this sounds as if the sub is now more authoritative than the main domain for the search term. Have you been doing more work on the sub, attracting more links?

What are the results if you do a [site:example.com] search (note no "www")? Which pages show up as the top results?


 8:53 pm on Oct 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

we have not made any changes, our issue is the same as many in google forums

traffic was going great until FRIDAY when everything got wiped out, pages dropped many positions lower from index

we have a structure like this:


right now my subdomain is performing better than even but on many terms result is something like this:

searching for green widgets

site 1
site 2
site 3
site 4

and whhen u click on that + sign on google SERP u will see that my original main page (domain.com/green-widgets.htm) from main domain is inside the +

something like this

site 1
site 2
site 3
site 4


 8:56 pm on Oct 25, 2010 (gmt 0)


umm... i dont think our subdomain has become suddenly more authoritative all of a sudden, my subdomain is pr5 with a lot less link and content? :S , we have not been working on it, it might be getting links naturally but still its is a pr5, main domain is pr6...

yes...subdomain all of a sudden has started ranking but this coincide with all these cases of drop 70-80% traffic on friday (on google forum and here),... my main domain is my MAIN DOMAIN


this situation is in those key terms where maindomain's pages could be found

for thousands of other terms, u will not even find main domain,... only subdomain is in serp... maybe main domain is 100s of position lower

really strange


 10:25 pm on Oct 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

my main domain is my MAIN DOMAIN

You have to keep in mind that www.example.com and sub.example.com are on the same level, they are both basically subdomains of example.com.

In a discussion like this trying to suss out what might have happened last week some more information is needed. So:

What were the results of the site: search I asked you to do above? Was the sub or main domain at the top? Was there a mix of pages from both or just one?

I notice that the page names are close to the same on both the sub and main domains. How different is the structure between them? How close is the content to being the same. Does each page across both have truly unique title elements and meta descriptions?

There'll be more questions from other folks, but this should be a halfway good start.


 10:34 pm on Oct 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

when i do site:domain.com

my main domain is on top right now,
the pages are mix of both...maindomain to subdomains ratio 2:1 (there are many subdomains)

the purpose of subdomain was to be region specific, and yes content and title and meta description all are unique, even though structure could be same, also density varies as well


 8:28 pm on Oct 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

am still in trouble, waiting for input from u guys :)


 9:20 pm on Oct 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well, whatever it is, it's strange. Google is returning the sub for terms the www previously ranked. So somehow Google thinks the sub page is the more authoritative. Possibly:

1) The sub page might just be better optimized than the www page.
2) Some of the backlinks to the www have been devalued.*
3) As Tedster's mentioned in a few places Google is going through its annual build up to the holiday sales period revamp.

*This is only a gut feeling, nothing to put a finger on, but from reading around of various problems over the past week, it *feels* as if a bunch of sites had their links devalued. They don't have to be direct links to your site, but links to sites that link to you. Again, just a feeling.

One quick question: Do you happen to be in an industry where there is a predominant so-called SEO/SEM firm. I'm thinking back to the real estate industry hoopla of a few years ago where a lot of sites got wiped out.

Stretching a bit here. Hopefully someone else will pop by with some ideas.


 11:31 pm on Oct 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Are you from the uk

All i can say is results in the Uk are pretty screwed at the moment, I know of at least 10 other sites including mine that suffered the same symptoms, mine started the 1st October, its on its way back now after 3 weeks of 75% less traffic, still got a way to go, i would say just hold fire for a week or 3, dont make any drastic changes i believe its a technical problem Google side (yup another one) and youll get your traffic back soon


 3:43 am on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

1) Do you link to all your subdomain page i.e. subdomain.domain/green-widgets.htm, subdomain.domain/green-yellow-widgets.htm etc. from your corresponding main domain pages or you do the reverse?

2) Is "subdomain" a keyword? (related to those widget pages)


 5:07 am on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

no we dont have seo/sem firm, we dont use any

our site is not geo targetted specifically to a particular country


1) yes, from main domain's pages, 1 link goes to subdomain keyword page

2) yes subdomain is country specific


 7:19 am on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Ok. I suspect the keyword in the anchor is causing the issues...you probably have to avoid the over optimization of your home page. Since you say that you have lost the ranking for the home page, remove the keyword stuffed anchors from the home page and see if it gets back the ranking.


 8:57 am on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)


no my homepage has not lost ranking, only my internal pages of main domain have lost ranking, which do contain 250-300 links,........ but those pages of main domain also have lost rank and are not appearing in serp which have very few links and are very specific and have almost no competition

my site is not a spam site, it is a pr6,i have never scrapped content, content is pasted by users which i make sure is not taken from somewhere else

it is interesting to note that my subdomain has not suffered, it also does contain keywords, but not in excess


 10:51 am on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have similar issue. Lost 90% of traffic. It started dissapearing on 23/10. On monday -90% traffic. But I also have copies of all my mine pages that are accessed through different directory (I had to do this because after a sitewide change, google suspended pages from the original directory from results, it worked- copies got indexed and been shown, but after a while original directory has gained it's authority back and almost none of the copies remained in results anymore) Now, from these few visitors I do get, quite a few of them land on the copies..
I hope it's google's tech issue and will be sorted soon. But so far Mon, Tues, Wed.. No change


 5:18 pm on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

yes, country specific subdomain's copies are ranking, not the real page, thats really is strange

how long did it take for your original directory to gain back its authority then?


 5:37 pm on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think it could be something with interlinking and original value of the site giving the link.
I was just trying to buy a particular calculator, the second result was a public facebook page from a regular user pointing to a site to buy it? The site to buy it is a major retailer and I could swear they were number two last week when I did the dame search. Now a facebook page with a lot of traffic took the spot of the site that was the target of a link they gave!

Google seems to be having problems with new content and also the target of links. In your case it may be that instead of ranking for the target of the correct links in a higher spot, your old site is ranking for the pages it points to instead of the link target.

I'm seeing this all over the web right now, the link to a site ranking higher then the target of the link.


 7:28 pm on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

what could be the possible solution to get out of this mess?

to wait this disaster out and hope that google will revert back the mess, or to do some corrective actions?

one more question scott and rest of the people, do you think that the link count is affecting the serp position of a page, our site is high quality and we have never done anything black hat,

our competitors regularly buy links,

one thing that also separates us from our competitors is that we have around 250-300 internal links on our internal pages compared to our competitors which maintain a link count of around 150-180........ do u think number of links on our landing pages could be affecting this?

could we have become victim of (onpage) over-optimixation? despite always abiding google guidelines?


 8:33 pm on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

I don't think there's much you can do at the moment as you really don't know what the problem is. There's a heck of a lot going on with Google right now; the number of I've Got a Prolem with Google threads on this and other boards proves that. It might be best to see if this shakes out and things settle down, or see if all the brouhaha turns out to be the new norm (gut feeling again).

In the meantime you might want to have somebody else take a look at your site. We all do get to close to them and sometimes don't notice the obvious.


 9:26 pm on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

hi everyone, in GWT,here is the snapshot of my Who links to your site the most SECTION

mydomain.com 459,072,22 (links placed on my subdomains' landing pages)
site1.com 4,570,544
site2.org 4,359,590
site3.com 2,262,718
site4.com 1,697,149

please note that all the links that are shown to be linking to my content from the above mydomain.com are ACTUALLY links placed on my subdomains' landing pages.....

if google is counting my subdomains as external link, could overlinking from subdomains could be the issue?


 4:45 am on Nov 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

it could as well be the reverse - google was treating them as external so far that benefitted you and now started to ignore the value passed, seeing so many links from a subdomain.

But i am just speculating here and it may not be really helpful.Unless someone takes a deep look at the site, it is really difficult to say what the real reasons are.


 11:30 am on Nov 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

i think i know the problem now

around 1 month back, in our site,the minimum letter count for a word (which is set in mysql as 3 by default) was changed to 4

this caused millions of our intenral pages to vanish or started showing duplicate content,... obviously those pages were delisted by google,.... in short our whole internal linking structure was destroyed

we have reverted the changes yesterday

tedster and other experts, how long do u think google will take to get us back to our previous position?

please advise as my job is at stake


 2:26 pm on Nov 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

There's no way I would make such a prediction, even if I knew your site intimately. I will say this - if you truly fixed the root of the problem (and you certainly may have) Google will notice that you should see a gradual recovery beginning very soon.

If I were in your shoes, I'd be documenting that recovery very precisely. If you don't see at least some movement within two weeks, I'd start digging again. Millions of pages is a very large site. The speed of your recovery would depend on how fast it all gets crawled and re-crawled.


 3:21 pm on Nov 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

I would also consider filing a reconsideration request as this was accidental.It might help.


 3:59 pm on Nov 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

hi indyank and tedster and other people

would filing for reconsideration help?... previously my subdomains were unaffacted but since october 28th, my subdomains are steadily witnessing a gradual decline also...... is my domain under penalty? what should i do


 5:12 pm on Nov 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

around 1 month back, in our site,the minimum letter count for a word (which is set in mysql as 3 by default) was changed to 4

this caused millions of our intenral pages to vanish or started showing duplicate content,... obviously those pages were delisted by google,.... in short our whole internal linking structure was destroyed

I'm not familiar with what you're talking about here. Can you explain it a bit more?


 5:48 pm on Nov 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

epimaniac - have you noticed any dramatic changes with the crawl? this is normally a good indicator of serious IA issues.

i've experienced 2 penalties / filters on million+ page sites (different sites!):

the first was moving to a new data provider, someone forgot to redirect the old records, we ended up with 100k+ 404 errors, the site basically got dropped from the index. we recovered from this very quickly (within a month).

the second was a quality / manipulation based penalty (still unsure as to what exactly - the site was breaching several guidelines). no drop in crawl rate, but 80% drop in traffic. we cleared up all the potential issues, but it took quite a few months to recover.

Both sites were PR6, over a million pages indexed.

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