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8 Months and quoted results popping back up

 3:47 pm on Jun 21, 2013 (gmt 0)


About 8 months ago, we made some pretty hefty changes to our URL structure to make things flow more smoothly. We knew this would cause chaos to our site but knew it was time to make this change along with some other updates for our site visitors.

Naturally, we tanked and expected this but we are starting to worry a little that it's taking longer than we had expected. However, maybe 8 month isn't long enough to start worrying so that is why we are just looking for some opinions.

One thing we are noticing that recently a large chunk of pages are starting to show up again if we use a quoted search. We hadn't seen that in a long time when we went checking for pages in the results so we were hoping that might be a good sign. Some years back, we always saw a pattern that if we showed up with quoted search results for new or changed pages, that we had a good chance of some of those pages showing back in the broad search results at some point. We also notice that when they started popping back up with quoted results, it was both for "personalized" and "broad" results which we are also hoping might be promising.

With so many changes though over the years on Google, this could mean absolutely nothing now. So I guess we are wondering if with some more patience, could this be a possible good sign? That Google is starting to recognize these pages?

I'd also like to point out that the entire site hasn't completely tanked, it's just the new or changed pages that we updated. The front index page has sunk but that's also something we expected when we made the changes because when so many lower pages suffer, our index page usually took somewhat of a hit but would eventually bounce back up when enough lower pages came back into the SERPS.

So it's not the whole site that's suffering.

Any thoughts or opinions would be greatly appreciated. If 8 months isn't enough time to panic and if quoted results means anything at all these days or should we dismiss that and not feel any signs of positiveness coming from that.




Robert Charlton

 10:30 pm on Jun 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

berrysharpie - Congratulations that you've seen some positive movement. I don't know whether you should be celebrating, though, as 8 months is a long time. What has happened to non-search traffic during this time?

To get the history on this, and also to kick this thread up... I assume you're talking about the site changes you discussed in this thread, which were intended to reverse a prior set of major changes that you describe...

Deciding what belongs, what redirects, and what is 404
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4510408.htm [webmasterworld.com]

As g1smd had summed up some of the issues...

The problem with subdomain 5 is seemingly rather obvious then. It's the combination of moving domain and changing the page URLs at the same time (this often doesn't go well) as well as not having full coverage with the redirects.

I don't know how you should proceed (move or not move), but having moved a page from URL A to URL B, if you now move again you will have double the work to do. The existing A=>B redirect will need to be altered A=>C and a completely new B=>C redirect will need to be created.

You absolutely must not create an A=>B=>C redirection chain.

I hope you kept very careful records of both sets of major changes. I wouldn't make any changes now... that would be a disaster, IMO... but you might want to start reexamining your redirects very carefully, to make sure you've taken care of separately redirecting the inbound links that may have existed at each stage. Check onpage nav code to make sure sure that's current and correct.

Had you checked old backlinks (via a backlink checker with fresh data} to make sure your most important good links were properly redirected? And had you gotten any of your old inbounds changed? Also, have you acquired any new inbounds?

The latter two, in my experience, if the links are good, will confirm trust signals for Google and sometimes speed things up. The problem is that we've been through a volatile period in how Google has been looking at links, so your various stages of inbounds may be involved in re-evaluation as Google also figures out how to untie two sets of pretzels.


 10:57 pm on Jun 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hi Robert,

Thank you for the reply, I appreciate it.

Yes, that is the change that we had done by going to subdomains and then getting rid of the subdomains. Unfortunately we got some help trying to tidy up the mess and when we got rid of the subdomains and went back to all links being under the primary domain, it was advised to us to just let go of all those old links and start anew.

Since we left an old supplier that we feared might have been hurting us (and many others with stupid errors in product descriptions) and moving to subdomains with redirects, we were told that we could very well have just carried the problem along in the redirects.

So we were then advised to switch back to the main site and this time, not redirect so we were starting with fresh new links and dumping the old history.

Naturally this made us nervous but at this point, we were feeling a lot of dread and like we've been completely defeated. So now here we are, waiting for the new links to start to rank. That last change was done mid November and only now are we starting to see quoted search results showing up for those pages that are new.

We aren't celebrating. We fear that our site is dead in the water as regards those new pages and due to that, the rest of the site is just hanging in the balance. We still have traffic and it's not as bad as it really could be but the areas that we need that traffic again are the ones that are "waiting" for Google to maybe do something with someday. Again, those are the pages that have recently showed up in quoted search but I don't know if that means anything anymore.

When we did introduce those new pages, they popped into the SERPS very quickly, ranked very nicely and then maybe 2 weeks later gone. We knew that would happen though. These quoted results are the first and only thing we have seen since November.

We don't want to make any further changes at all. We are too afraid. But if we still have something wrong, then I am not sure what to do. We've run link checkers and everything looks clean, the site is easy to navigate and the sitemap is being downloaded daily and almost every page is fully indexed. All the old pages did pile up as thousands of 404's but that number has been steadily dropping since November.

Everything looks and feels clean, just feeling really on edge that it's too long. Maybe we blew it by ever touching the site in the first place.

Thanks again for the reply.


Robert Charlton

 7:23 am on Jun 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

...it was advised to us to just let go of all those old links and start anew.

Maybe I missed something in your earlier posts. Why would someone have advised this? Were you trying to escape a backlink penalty?

When we did introduce those new pages, they popped into the SERPS very quickly, ranked very nicely and then maybe 2 weeks later gone. We knew that would happen though. These quoted results are the first and only thing we have seen since November.

Again, were you trying to escape an earlier backlink problem? That might explain why you were completely gone after the first two weeks. Under normal circumstances, I'd maybe expect pages to drop way down, but to stay in the index and to continue appearing for quoted searches. So, I'm not sure what the situation is.

If you dumped your old links for no reason at all but bad advice, that's tragic. I'd do all I could, with a backlink checker, to see if there's anything around that you might salvage. Otherwise, you are effectively starting over again, and you really need to be looking at how to attract visitors to the site, and how to get them and link juice most efficiently to the pages that you now need to rank.

We've run link checkers and everything looks clean, the site is easy to navigate and the sitemap is being downloaded daily and almost every page is fully indexed....

A Sitemap only makes sure you get spidered and indexed. It doesn't help with ranking in any way. "Easy to navigate" is subjective... doesn't tell us much.

Let's for a moment assume you did everything right in restoring where you were. What was happening at the time you made the change to motivate the restructuring in the first place?


 2:08 pm on Jun 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hi Robert,

It looks as though our pages are starting to pop back into the index. I think what it was all coming down to is patience. Our traffic is starting to rise again which is a positive sign.

We were "told" that because our previous gear supplier had some "issues" with their product descriptions, a lot of sites took a "hit" in the process, ours likely being one of them. So when we had set up the redirects and then the new pages showed up only to disappear shortly after, it was advised to us that we should probably not have redirected from something that might have been tainted to the new pages. This, by the way, was a huge MIGHT have been tainted or punished.

The whole site is by no means gone. Only the pages that went through redirect insanity. So we followed the advice, removed the redirects and started new links to go fresh.

We regret having listened to this advice but all those old links are now long gone. With the new links actually started to slowly pop into the SERPS I am hoping that it was just a case of patience and the rest of the site is old enough to start bringing those pages up in the index slowly but surely.

At this point I am afraid of hunting down any leftover old links to re-setup redirects so as not to hinder any positive changes finally starting.

Thank you again for your advice. I think it's just a tragic mess that needs us to let Google sort through it and let the weight and age of the rest of the site to do its part. We've got traffic even during the mess and a recent rise in traffic which reminds us of "close" to what it used to be minus still some crucial areas but it's a big step in the right direction.



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