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WMT message, correlates perfectly with drop in traffic

 11:45 pm on Jan 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

I just checked Analytics, for the first time since Thursday. On the 20th, traffic dropped roughly 5,000 visits and the same for the proceeding days.

I logged in to WMT to see if anything was amiss, and there's nothing other than a message from Google with the following:

Dear site owner or webmaster of http://www.example.com,
As of the last crawl of your website, you appear to be running WordPress 3.1.1. Google recommends that you update to the latest release. Older or unpatched software may be vulnerable to hacking or malware that can hurt your users. To download the latest release, visit the WordPress download page. If you have already updated to the latest version of WordPress, please disregard this message.
If you have any additional questions about why you are receiving this message, Google has provided more background information in a blog post about this subject.
Best wishes,
Google Search Quality Team

The problem is, I'm not running wordpress at all, anywhere on the website :(

I appreciate their concern with more and more websites being hacked, but as we're not running WP, let alone version 3.1.1, I don't know what to do. And this drop in traffic, happened on the exact day, it cannot be a coincidence IMO.



 1:02 am on Jan 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Looking at this a little more, I believe the drop maybe due to the latest algo change. Though still very odd this message landed, on the same day as the drop. I guess stranger things have happened.


 1:54 am on Jan 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

could you have a style sheet named the same?

either way the drop is around the latest change to algo - if WP notifications were sent out - anyone else get one - even those using WP - could be part of change


 10:20 am on Jan 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

I run wordpress, but I cloak what version so that hackers cant see from the source code what version im running...silly thing for google to do.


 10:22 am on Jan 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

update. Read this and check WMT..I have the same message, im 100% updated however I do cloak the version with a security plugin


 1:56 pm on Jan 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

im 100% updated however I do cloak the version with a security plugin

This doesn't hide the fact you're running wordpress from anyone, especially Google. Try typing in your domain name with this url added for example: www.example.com/xmlrpc.php

That file is the "ping" file used by wordpress, unless you take steps to return a 404 message for direct access it will return a message that is unique to wordpress. There are dozens of such files in a wordpress installation.

Wordpress also has a "call home" feature that contacts wordpress when you log into your dashboard, I would not be surprised to find out that Google also has access to this or some agreement with wordpress that gives up the information in exchange for help with security.

There is occasionally concern by some webmasters that their choice of cms impacts rankings. Google would take steps to even the field if one is generally worse from an seo standpoint since content is what's important, but they would need to know which cms you're using to accomplish that. Matt Cutts himself stated that Google is pretty darned good at figuring it out.

Anyway - I've gotten that message on a non-wordpress site too but I did have 3 domains sharing the same hosting account and the main was indeed wordpress.


 8:40 pm on Mar 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

This message keeps being sent by GWT. I am not running Wordpress and so I'm not sure what to do.

But as the message clearly states that not upgrading, could harm my visitors, it's concerning me, that it will impact my rankings.

I first received the message on January 20th. Traffic dropped on January 21st and has dropped and dropped.

I cannot prove there is a correlation, but the dates are almost exact and the messages continue to come, so it wasn't sent in mistake.

What steps do I need to take?


 8:51 pm on Mar 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

How is your site validated in GWT? Are you using a meta tag, or a file or Google Analytics?

What I'm wondering is if they're not talking about your site at all. Maybe you were scraped, your content stuck on a throwaway WP blog, and your validation code along with it.

I dunno if that could produce this kind of error in GWT, but I guess I wouldn't rule it out till I investigated.


 8:55 pm on Mar 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think I've figured it out.

Last year we moved from WP to a blog that better integrates with our CMS.

I left the /blog/ folder in tact, yet deleted most of it's contents. I forwarded all of the articles, to the new pages. I didn't forward the /blog/ to the new blog base, as my redirects kept screwing things up.

Google has obviously continued to visit the URL and noticed the older version of WP that it had been running.

I am going to figure out the 301 now.


 9:04 pm on Mar 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi Netmeg my site is validated via a file in the root directory.

That's a very good idea though, and one that could well be harming some webmasters. I wasn't even aware of the meta tag option. It was so long ago that I added my website to GWT.


 9:06 pm on Mar 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

I need a 301 or a rewrite rule that basically forwards

/blog/ to /blog/1-username-blog/

But the issue is, when I use a basic redirect, it catches all of the posts too, which I don't want it to. I need it to just 301 this exact url and leave everything else alone.

Any help would be much appreciated.


 11:03 pm on Mar 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Finally got it working. Wow I hate HTACCESS!

I will keep you guys updated and let you know whether this reversed the problem.

We are currently at minus 10,000 visitors per day. Absolutely insane. Things really aren't good.


 1:07 am on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have just submitted a reconsideration request. The website is still getting a lot of traffic, so it's not been banned or anything. But the drop is significant. I just hope its not algorithmic, as our website is the best of its kind and I'd be pretty devastated if Google for some reason, doesn't agree.


 2:35 am on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Good luck with the recon request, not many are reporting success these days. Let us know how it goes.

Also, I've just checked about a dozen of my favorite sites via compete.com and all are on a downward slope over the past year. The sites that I checked that are headed up are the big shops like eBay(up 25M) and Amazon (up 20M).

For the fun of it I also ran a few affiliate programs from Google's aff program through a check and they are all trending upwards too! Seems like sites with affiliate programs are doing well and the traffic is coming from somewhere right? GL.


 9:53 am on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

I am certainly not hopeful but I felt it was worth a shot. As there is no logical reason why this website should be suffering.

I too have seen many great websites on the decline and yet some of my most lousy competitors who steal our content are getting hundreds of thousands of visits a day.

It's demoralising.

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