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I ditched the links, left the site alone and simply waited for any correction. 3 months on I started to see a partial recovery with some descriptions on some pages being cached and appearing normal but still no PR or serps placement.
This week however, the site seems to have been reinstated on some very competitive KW serps BUT the description doesnt show, nor is there a cache etc but there it is on top of the pile with nothing more than one line of URL.
Its stayed that way for 2 days now but Ive only rarely seen such a phenomenom and dont know how to explain it. It may not last of course but Im trying to convince myself that this is the start of the recovery process.
Anyone have any experience of this?
Such transients probably will not last more than a few days so cross all your fingers and toes, etc.
True, there are too many sites out there with loads of paid links that don't seem to have been touched. It could be something else entirely.
URL only seems to be a normal thing when pages are in the process of slipping out or coming back in to the index.
Did MIA pages show as being in the supplemental index at any time?
Not sure what you mean by "supplemental index" but all pages were wiped of title/descriptions/PR in June but now bit by bit are now being reinstated. Im at the stage where 98% are back to normal in terms of their appearance on G but sadly the ranking is still nowhere near what it was across the site.
The home page though is making a serps comeback all on its own yet as explained, its one of the 2% of pages that doesnt seem to have been fully populated with title / descrpt. etc
As for the linking to yoursite.com/index.htm... what you described is very common these days, and from what I've seen, all the sites effected have some sort of confusing/inconsistent linking. You have links to both www.yoursite.com/index.htm and www.yoursite.com Make all your linking consistently go to simple root url: www.yoursite.com/
If nothing else it can't hurt.
You have two peculiar issues, the inconsistent linking and domain.com being 404. Like everybody else, fix your webmastering issues and then see what happens.
It's been going on further back for a long time, there was a problem with a site I looked at narrowed down to that as far back as last year. There have been problems with sites not using the consistency in navigation, and it's not uncommon.
I watched one site fall out months back doing that - with most pages going supplemental results. According to what I've seen on one of the data centers it's been figured out, but they're not back yet. It's an extreme case, with them linking back to the homepage with and without the www both from every page on the site - so if anything ever looked like dodgy stuff that's it, even if it's not deliberate.
OK, here is the recent discussion on the www and non-www problem
That one and 126.96.36.199 Steve, back on both but the ranking differs by 3 places. Another one I looked at gave it higher. BTW, 188.8.131.52 is now giving a 404.