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Index page is vanishing temporarily



6:25 pm on Aug 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

One of my sites, which was affected by the 'index page dropped phenomenon' (bug, penalty or whatever), is vanishing temporarily from the results (when searching for keyword1). The problem often occurs when searching the first time. When the result page is reloaded, normally the page reappears.

The problem doesn't seem to be related to a specific data centre (i.e. it can occur at all of them). The problem also arises for a search of allinanchor, allintitle and allintext of keyword1. However, it seems that other keywords or combination of keywords are not affected.

Anybody else seeing a similar behaviour?


7:41 pm on Aug 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I am just beginning to see this phenomenon happening with my site too (it was one of the ones suffering during Dominic, but it has been steady at position 3 for those keywords for several weeks now).

I just filled out a spam report with the keywords.

I hope you can witness the phenomenon for yourself and give us some feedback. However, I don't know how reproducible this phenomenon is. I hope it's not like when your car has intermittent problems, and runs fine each time you take it to the shop... :)


9:13 pm on Aug 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

My site is experiencing this problem - randomly across the datacentres - except one, where my index page is nowhere to be found for my main key phrase.

Has been like this for the past few days-

GG - do you have any comments on the "update", is it a thing of the past? or things like the visible back links not having changed for 2 months?

A few little cryptic teasers of yours would be interesting to try and figure out!


10:18 pm on Aug 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Nice to know I'm not the only one suffering because of an ovious Google problem. Pardon me, but I must vent a bit.

Google has been having problems for almost 5 months now. Analyse it any way you want, but Google has some serious problems (no links added for many sites in months and some really spammy search results).

At what point does Google get things fixed?

Do they wait until Yahoo and AOL dump them, or do they wait until the internet world decides to pump another SE via word of mouth?

Remember Google has not always been #1 -- there were "great" SEs before Google that (from a traffic standpoint) virtually do not exist anymore.

Personally, the Google issues have me so frustrated I'm ready for a new SE to take over.


11:40 pm on Aug 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Is this related to the issue of index pages just dropping out of the listing. Last Month I was on first page, now two other pages of the site are on the 3rd page for my main keyword. It will show up for other searches.

I have been doing some site reorganization but minimal changes to the index page. I am moving the site away from dynamic to static pages. Would this have an effect on the valuation of the index page?

I have another domain that lost the index page for a couple months, it just came back and is on 2nd page which works for me(page 1 and 2).



12:43 am on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I received a total of three reports where someone thought that their index page wasn't showing up where it should.

I sent two emails to google search quality after DomEsme regarding the missing index page fiasco. Didn't send a spam report because, well, there was no spam involved.

My sites index returned after about 2 months absence around beginning of July, exactly where it had been before Dominic.

Now starting to see odd serps popping up ahead of me, with little relevance, but thats another issue which I won't moan about.

GG, if you're still reading, if we take it that the many people reporting the index page problem on this forum aren't all lying, for some reason, what exactly would you say was the problem following DomEsme? It would help us all if we knew whether it was a filter that was catching our sites, or some problem with Dominic's update.

We want to optimise our sites following googles guidelines so we don't get filtered out, but unless we know what our index pages were doing wrong, what can we do? And why did many of them return several weeks AFTER Esmerelda?

The constant freshtagging following the index pages return, which has slowed now, indicates to me that the database was lacking a lot of info that the freshbot had to run around rebuilding.


2:04 am on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

This is going to show how green I am. Will someone please sticky me and tell me where to go to file a spam report so that I can report my missing index page. I'm one of those sites whose index page keeps getting the shaft):

I've never filed a spam report before and have no idea how. Thanx in advance.

Marcus Aurelius

2:06 am on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Dear Mr. Googleguy,

Would you please turn stickymail on for a second so I could sticky you the requested information you requested in your post to this thread.

Thank you.


2:37 am on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have one site that I manage for an instrument builder. The index page does not show up at all in the serps. When I do a search for the url it says that Google has no information. The other pages of this site rank well. Now get this though. The index page has page rank. When you do a backward link search it shows the links and get this... When I am on the index page and use the toolbar to show me a "cached example" it shows the index page with recent changes I made. But do the url search and google says "no information".


2:58 am on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

GG, if you need more examples of the actual phenomenon here (the refresh problem) I can provide more.


3:00 am on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have an index page went from 20ish to 120ish, due to major loss of backlinks, apparently, as indicated by link: and toolbar, some time in the last week or so. interior pages still fine.

I was just beginning to think I was back in. This is like the third time. s.

(sorry this is not related to the refresh bug - just the lost index and lost backlink bugs. I know, stiff upper lip...)


3:22 am on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


the file a spam report goto [google.com...]

But I never try to remember it. What I do is go to google and search spam report, it is in the SERPs. :)


3:25 am on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Thanks. What does he mean by "use the keyword index page"? Will I understand when I file the report? This is what we're supposed to do to let him know that our index pages are MIA, correct? Did I understand right? Thanks.


3:33 am on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

he means, include the keyword inside the comments box so he can search on it to locate you SpEcIaL report! :)


4:42 am on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Good thread - this has been going on with my site for a while. The refresh phenomenon and the index page thing.

I thought the index page problem was due to me manipulating keywords in the title bar... the times I've done that seem to correspond with the times it's dropped out.

And what's whith the amazon.com pages everywhere?

kamikaze Optimizer

4:59 am on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

What I really hate are the non-descriptive Amazon results, the one that do not have a cached and look like this fake link (not a real link, Brett)

Similar pages
[ More results from www.amazon.com ]

Without the description, they are annoying at best.


6:14 am on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

"At the very least, they are not taking these problems seriously, and seem quite content to see the quality of the results decline somewhat."

have to agree again. the problems are real and we can see them. yet even in this thread it seems googleguy is saying they dont see the index page problem. That is frustrating. Thats just one of a number of issues. i know personally people are turning away from google more and more, and it will get worse with the docs and pdf's now filling the results. I guess only google know the daily figures for searches done on www, but i'm surprised if they say they see no affect. maybe people are simply still searching google but then using another engine which they didnt do before, i know that would include me for one.

kamikaze Optimizer

6:25 am on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

...maybe people are simply still searching google but then using another engine which they didnt do before, i know that would include me for one.

soapystar: If you do not mind me asking, what other engine is working for you?


7:03 am on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

Very pleased to see GoogleGuy here. These are significant issues with the Google SERPS and the company really ought to investigate fully and repair ASAP.

The problem here is that this one is so dynamic. The one static element is that the first time I try in the morning, the sites are missing from at least 2 centers. I can always guarantee that.

I re-do the search on each and it's back. Then it stays happily in place regardless of the number of times I re-search. However, the same happens again, maybe different centers, if I try a few hours later.

As I posted previously, the sites affected are a large sub-set of those that were hit by the original index problem. Some really important sites (not to me but industrywise) are affected so it is something that people will certainly pick up on and may dent their confidence a bit.

One way you might spot it GoogleGuy, and convince yourself we are not all hallucinating, is to use one of those interfaces that present the returns from the 9 centers in columns side by side.

Search on some of those words I sent you with the original index problem.

For some you will see a few centers have a site or two missing. Refresh or re-search at that center. Chances are they will be back. Make a good mental note of it though, because it won't disappear again for a while.

Of course the problem is that real users don't refresh. As far as they are concerned those sites never exist. They are missing from your index.

Once you have found an example you will understand that this must be related to the original index problem. The fix for that may have been somehow incomplete, or there is some area, cache or memory in which the index problem code or situation still resides.

Whatever the cause, it is real and it is something that can be re-created to demonstrate (if only periodic). Hopefully the above ifnormation, and the info that chaps above have sent, will help you at least see it for yourself.


8:27 am on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi Everyone. First time posting, but have followed the conversations for months.

I haven't noticed any vanishing index page problems, but in recent weeks the total number of pages I have in the google index has dropped a ton! I went from over 3,700 pages to 2,620 at last check. This has all happened within a few weeks. Has anyone else noticed anything like this? Am I being penalized for something?


8:51 am on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm only seeing this when searching on google uk with then uk filter selected (Well so far anyway!).

Just like everyone else in this thread, it seems that the first time you search it never shows my site index page in the results but refresh the page and bingo there it is. Try a new search term and again my site is gone, refresh and it's back.

Very odd.



9:02 am on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

"my hats in the ring"

We have the same problem for some search phrases. We aren't hallucinating! (hell, it's not even the weekend ;-])


9:31 am on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member kaled is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I've tried to recreate this problem for myself without success. Would someone clarify a point. Am I right in thinking that this problem applies only to the domain's index page or does it also apply to subdirectories?

If it is only the domain's (root) index page, then Google should be able to trace the problem. Given that the root directory is not not likely to be treated as a special case in many parts of their code, they simply need to start looking at those special cases. I know from bitter experience that tracing intermittent faults is a nightmare, but that is a mighty good clue and should be sufficient for a programmer familiar with the code to find the fault within a few days, or even hours.


Despite rising in Google SERPS, and a lack of change in the competition, I'm beginning to see a drop a traffic. Could this be due to users switching from Google? If so, which other search engine is getting their business?


10:30 am on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Google Terms of Service:
You may not use the Google Services to sell a product or service, or to increase traffic to your Web site for commercial reasons, such as advertising sales.

If PDFs and docs are turning up in the results, the SERPs become more information-based rather than commercial. I'm sure this is the plan, since Google would rather commercial listings are paid for. Google don't want to give webmasters a free lunch - think about Adwords, Adwords Select, the rollout plans with Blogger, AdSense, etc.

Yahoo charge for commercial listings - why shouldn't Google? However, Yahoo also allow non-commercial listings free entry. This is the directory model and is replicated massively around the web in many popular directories. It makes commercial sense for Google to do the same. Obviously they can't suddenly hit us with it, as it would never be accepted - but I do believe we are seeing a sneaky, stealthy move towards this...

Anyway, conspiracy theories over. This doesn't explain the barrage of Amazon and Ebay in the current results, so this clearly isn't a watertight theory (for now at least)... but I do believe Google is at least attempting to focus on informational rather than commercial content for its primary listings.

This certainly conforms to their own wishes as outlined in the Google Terms of Service, and it could be argued that most of us have been abusing those terms for too long.


12:24 pm on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

GoogleGuy wrote:
I'm totally happy to check out individual examples if people think there are problems, but I need data. :) If you fill out a spam report, let's use the keyword "indexpage"--I have the ability to scan for specific keywords in the spam reports, and then it's easy for me to debug or work with other Googlers to see if there's anything going on. Given what I know about the crawl/index at this instant, I'm just a smidge skeptical, but again--I'm happy to check out specifics to be on the safe side.

Did anyone have success with this? Wenn I fill out the spam-report form at [google.com...] it just takes me to the google-index-page. It doesn't seem like the form is being sent. Anyone have any success?


12:38 pm on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I agree, the same thing happens whenever I've tried that. I assume the reports are being sent, but who knows? It isn't obvious enough at all.


12:40 pm on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

ruserious - that's standard procedure for that form. Not much for usability; for example: they could send you to a!successful! page and then redirect to their home page.


1:26 pm on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member kaled is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Google Terms of Service:
You may not use the Google Services to sell a product or service, or to increase traffic to your Web site for commercial reasons, such as advertising sales.

The day that Google decides to ban all commercial websites will be the day that Google ceases to exist as a major player. Perhaps OV/FAST will be able to serve up consistent high-quality results, but if they can't, someone else will.

Google exists for users. If users want commercial information then Google must provide it or die.



1:53 pm on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

The index page vanishing phenomena is thus with my site over the past week:

1. Top ten search term first time around = no placement, hit refresh and appears top ten as normal.

2. Like someone else above mentioned, it's wierd in that if you leave it a while it will do it again, but try again too soon and doesn't happen.

3. Watching the data centre aspect the site can appaer on none or any number of the datacantres initially, but if you watch all at the same time, each time refresh is hit, the site pops up until between about 2-5 refreshes it's on every one, and then stays there until you leave is a while (see 2. above).

4. Googleguy has a spam report from me with the worst problem searches and my site, and although it has been getting better for my site since Monday, it still does it today for the searches I sent as example, so hopefully he will be less sceptical of this issue now - it's certainly not being imagined!



1:56 pm on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

6. Oh yeah, almost forgot, don't think it has happened before.



2:14 pm on Aug 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

imo, there is some kind of (localized?) update going on. For my index page, backlinks are back, but now toolbar PR is gone, and the number of serps returned for a particular keyword phrase has changed. All since yesterday.
And I continue to drop in serps, hopefully temporarily since they have my backlinks.
This is not an old-style update with differences in www www2 and www3 however.
This 203 message thread spans 7 pages: 203

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