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22-23 September Google traffic dropped dramatically

Google traffic



10:38 am on Sep 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

traffic dropped from 2000 to 350 on my website and I cannot find my pages showed up on Google for particular keywords. PR=5 the same as usual. Anybody has the same problem ... any comments why that happened to my website?


3:41 pm on Oct 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We have a very large DB-driven website (500.000+ pages) spread over three (sub-)domains: www.widgets.fr, www.widgets.com and search.widgets.com The latter had just been created a view months ago and shows mainly keyword-/query-related pages. All three domains are connected to each other and were well established in Google until september 23rd. Then Google started to show some strange behavior:

- Traffic on widgets.fr increased a little (mainly browsing pages, nothing search related)

- www.widgets.com increased a LOT... But the traffic wasn't generated by current pages. Suddenly way old pages that don't even exist any more are delivering Google traffic. Google cache shows February 28th. So was this a backdate of the Google index?

- search.widgets.com got kind of a penalty. The pages are still present but rank really badly. Even if I search for the exact page title other domains show first, even if they don't contain all the keywords.

Anyone out there who has a clue?


4:10 pm on Oct 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

This makes me think that Google is having trouble keeping track of large numbers of similar pages.

I actually think it is the exact opposite. Google has had the ability to identify and filter sites that are replicating content from a common source for a long time. That's why you don't see many ODP clones, or duplicate news stories from the major news wires showing up in SERPS.

For the most part, I think the majority of traffic/serp loss people are seeing is a result of them simply expanding that technology to also cover feed driven and serp generating sites.

Having a bit of experience with these types of sites, I can tell you that it is a very easy thing to do. There are so many common factors shared across these sites that it becomes quite easy to identify and filter them.

The trick to getting lstings restored is identifying the common items that trigger such filters and then stop serving pages to G that contain those items. (Yes, I'm talking about cloaking).


4:27 pm on Oct 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Just found something I would like to add to my last post...

Beginning this year we had the content from www.widgets.fr accidentaly also indexed by google under www.widgets.de
We found out about this in April and then redirected all request to widgets.de to the homepage of widgets.fr
Now, when I look at site:widgets.de, suddenly there are 100.000 results with a google cache dated Februrary and March 2004.

So my theory is, that a lot of people lost traffic, because tons of old pages that had long been deleted went back into the index. Anyone else seeing this phenomenon, too?


4:50 pm on Oct 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Vec_One - it's a .co.uk domain

There is no issue with Google indexing the wrong pages, it's just that having triggered the filter/penalty, Google zaps my site by ranking my pages in almost reverse order!

As WebGuerrilla says, I need to figure out what items trigger the filter/algo and remove them - while keeping what I need to get the ranking!

But hang in there - I'm definitely bouncing in and out of the SERPS today and I can even see some Google referrals in the log - not many, but enough to give me hope!


5:06 pm on Oct 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

hmmm... i've saw the same after 30/08/2004 for my sites/domains

I've thought that it is simple single mistake. Now, if you've saw the same, it becomes very interesting. Maybe google just has lost his database? :)


9:27 pm on Oct 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

My site is about 1800 pages - large, but not 10s of thousands. All the content is original - no datafeeds. We are well backlinked from well ranked, high reputation sites. Traffic growth has been rock-solid since the we started 2.5 years ago - until 23 Sept!

What we do have is a set of links that we sell, that we put on every page. We do this to up their SERP positions, but they do relate to our content, and they relate to the way people use the site, which is coming in directly to the page that interests them.

What really confuses me is that site:www.domain.co.uk shows no results - when it should show over 200. (feel free to offer explanations!)


12:58 am on Oct 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

please unsubscribe me from this thread. I posted the first message on page 11


and by the way, this is a really lame way to unsubscribe from a thread, I really hope I am mistaken on how to do this..

[edited by: robenochs at 1:20 am (utc) on Oct. 2, 2004]


1:14 am on Oct 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I think one possibility is Google added a filter with the goal of finding if people are buying/selling links. On my two sites that got hit, there was a block of links on many of the pages that had the heading "sponsors" with a list of 4-6 mostly non-related links - these were mostly links to affiliate pages, but two links are to sites of my neighbors to help promote their businesses - none of these were sold links, but I suppose it could look that way to Google.

One of my sites that was NOT hit, also had the word "sponsor" on almost all of the pages with a link by it - although the link was on the same theme.

Most likely this is a red-herring. This drop from Sept 23rd has been frustrating for me to say the least - and I have a suspicion that may be part of Google's goal. They could have instituted several filters at the same time, which makes it very hard for people to compare notes to figure things out. Also, it could still be a glitch as the index is re-organizing before update Vegas - who knows what that is going to bring. Should be fun to see how Google's stock reacts to their next big update, if at all.

Also, my sites that were hit are still showing all of their pages with "site:www.domain.com" - in fact, it looks like I've actually had an increase in pages indexed.


1:38 am on Oct 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I also have suspicions about whether a penalty has been introduced for linking to external sites on numerous pages and would like some feedback.

Of the sites who have been penalised recently, are there any that do not have one or more outward bound links that appear on hundreds of pages?

I am wondering if in a a bid to clamp down on people buying links, typically hundreds on links from a high PR site, Google is penalising against this. It might be penalising both the site the links are on and the site being linked to.

If this is the case it would explain why one of my sites has been hit - I have a small network of sites which are interlinked and the links to each site are on every page on each site - i.e. thousands of pages. This has never been a problem before and in my case it does make genuine sense to have a network of sites, its not for spam purposes.

As a remedy, what do people think about this? Instead of interlinking sites with links to each site on every page, instead have one page, kind of like an advertorial which links to the external site, and put links on the hundreds of pages to that one page? This would still enable people to navigate around your network of sites from every page, and should concentrate PR in the one page and then it would get passed on to the external site, without triggering some penalty for having hundreds of pages linking to another site.


2:37 am on Oct 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Tried the site:www.domain.com and Google has about half of my 17,000 pages indexed in no particular order with 60% showing no description. Six months ago all of the pages were in the index. Not very encouraging.

I agree with a statement earlier that Google's inconsistant search results for most of this year is dealing a blow to e-commerce in general. To operate any business, you need to be able to predict sales with some degree of accuracy and thats not possible if 60% of sales come from the internet and Google is still the most used search engine.

With the same site design, offering more products and with twice the effort, sales this year are 2/3 of last year. From what I'm reading here, my situation is not unusual.

Prior to this year, good design, fair pricing, honest SEO and long hours researching your market meant good ranking in Google and sales. Now I don't know what it takes. There dosen't seem to be any logic in Google's updates anymore. Although the word update seems to imply something better than before and I don't think that applies to what Google is doing.


3:07 am on Oct 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


i see the same thing with my sites. doing a site:domain.com shows entries that date back to feb-mar. i noticed that these out-of-date pages are tagged supplemental. do you see the same thing with your out-of-date pages?


3:14 pm on Oct 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

[qoute]Hopefully that means google is finally getting wise to purely datafeed-driven affiliate sites. Let's face it, if your only content coem straight from a merchant, you're adding exactly ZERO to the quest for relevant results. [/quote]

That's not entirely true. My site aggregates content from many datafeeds and organizes them based on specific keywords. My sites can save users lots of time by bringing together information from many relevant sources and putting it on a single page that is very specific to what the user is searching for.


3:57 pm on Oct 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The 22nd-23rd update killed all of my subpages and my business for the moment. The feeling was no differnet than if I arrived at the office to find it burned to the ground. The pages had a good deal of repetative, content, but this content is essential becuase our company provides many different, but related, services that absolutely merit their own pages. What is strange is that my competators, whose sites are nearly identicle to mine with regard to repetition, were left uneffected.

I'm wondering if anyone has found a solution to this problem? How can one get their pages back into Google after having been recently excluded?


4:27 pm on Oct 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


One of my sites, an Amazon scripted site, was removed from Google last March. No cache, no page rank, nothing.

Today, I find that my page rank is back and, more interesting, the cache of the index page has returned with a date of MARCH 31, 2004.. This is too strange. The pr throughout the rest of the site has been restored as well.


5:05 pm on Oct 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


It looks to me like identical link-blocs across a number of pages is the common theme here - mine don't have the word 'sponsor' written over them - and they relate to the interests of visitors to the site - I sell them individually at a pretty good price, so they have to generate traffic independent of G - where the word 'sponsor' does appear is above the AdSense panels - at G's insistence! (iwliiwshb - i would laugh if i wasn't so heartbroken)...


5:32 pm on Oct 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Otahu, you could be right. I have identical link blocks across a number of pages. They link to my own sites though. I don't sell them.


9:28 pm on Oct 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

killed all of my subpages and my business for the moment

I think you should examine a PPC campaign. If losing free traffic "kills" your business, it's your busienss model that's at fault, not google.


10:13 pm on Oct 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

One of my sites has also been hit by google, 80% of google traffic has been dropped. This site had links to my other two sites at the bottom of the page, on every page. Also, I had links from the other two site to this site that has been hit. This would be explained by the new "google has been penalizing sites for selling links" theory right?

Well then, how would you explain that a set of 6 sites which are all interlinked at the bottom of the page among each other and have similar content on all the pages, except the keywords, (I'm using these sites for testing purposes ;) )have not been affected at all? I own all these 6 sites too and watching google traffic closely, it has remained the same, while one of my sites has been hit hard.

Also, I checked the dates of the cached pages on the site that has been hit hard and the other 6 sites. Site that has been hit hard seems to have much older cached dating back to August, while the other 6 sites have newer cache, September 20-30.

Anyone got any ideas?


10:28 pm on Oct 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

photonstudios, was the affected site your biggest?


10:37 pm on Oct 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Vec_One, actually it's the smallest site with about 10,000 pages, while the other six sites are 30,000+ pages. The one that has been hit is also the oldest, about 18 months old, while the other set of six is only about 6 months old.


10:53 pm on Oct 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Well, it's still a pretty large site. The smallest I've heard of so far was 900 pages. Has anyone with a smaller site been hit?



1:18 am on Oct 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I was hit, and my site is just over 100 pages, 4 years old, links from DMOZ and Yahoo (as well as others).


1:23 am on Oct 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Has everyone who has been hit got a particular set of links to external sites on lots of pages?


3:39 am on Oct 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Has everyone who has been hit got a particular set of links to external sites on lots of pages?

Excellent question, arthurdaley. Perhaps even more to the point, has anyone who has been hit NOT got a particular set of links to external sites on lots of pages?


4:38 am on Oct 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

>I was hit, and my site is just over 100 pages, 4 years
>old, links from DMOZ and Yahoo (as well as others).
My site is similar. Google seems to value title attributes less now. Does anyone have any comments on this?


5:04 am on Oct 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Oh boy...

Nothing new to add, I'm looking at about 50% down since the later update. From #1 to page 50+ in many cases.

It's a bit infuriating, but that's life I guess.

What I've found so far (my site is non-affiliate - all original content about travel in three countries in asia) is where before if you searched for say:

some place + guesthouse
some place + hotel
some place + hostel
where my site covered "some place", then I'd be on page 1-2, in some cases #1

The above are now all gone - pushed back to page 43,665,342 or thereabouts.

a search for "some place" (particularly if an obscure location) would result very well, mostly page 1,2, though often #1.

Now, for any competitive term, back into page 20+, however, if I tighten the search slightly, eg somewhere someplace - eg bay area sanfrancisco (not a real sample), then I'm back to old placements.

So it seems the first part does indicate the bias in why so many travel sites have been unduly hit - the focus of perhaps overuse of accommodation related language.

Another issue for me is now more users are clicking on the adwords listings as my serps are gone on the same page, so suddenly that cost is increasing with effectively no increase in traffic...

Heres to a new update ;~


11:06 am on Oct 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Excellent question, arthurdaley. Perhaps even more to the point, has anyone who has been hit NOT got a particular set of links to external sites on lots of pages?

I know of a site which has quite a few hundred (maybe even a thousand or so) links from one site (they're also bought). When things like this happen they never seem to suffer at all, and even improve. One other thing I noticed about this site was that before Sept 22/23 their site was dropping in the SERPS.


12:21 pm on Oct 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Has everyone who has been hit got a particular set of links to external sites on lots of pages?

No - different links on every page - but many to same sites (affiliate network links). Badly hit on Sep 23


3:38 pm on Oct 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

needinfo, I know of a site with los of identical link blocks that wasn't hit, even though it was interlinked with a similar site that was hit. It appears that sites are hit somewhat randomly, although I suppose that probably isn't the case. I guess it's a matter of degree. Site A gets hit because it has more than X% link (or idenical link) density. Site B has less than X%, so it isn't hit.

I spent some time looking at the links. Now, I'm nt so sure they need to be pointing to another site to cause the problem. My site has a lot more internal links than outbound links.

Ever get the idea GG is lurking in threads like this thinking "Ah, they are getting warmer. No, cold. Warm, warmer, hot."? Anyway, I think we might be heading in the right direction. Unless someone tells me their site got hit and does not include lots of identical link blocks, I'll be spending my Sunday cleaning out links.


4:04 pm on Oct 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm wondering if I got hit inadvertently by a filter which penalises sites for having link blocks on lots of pages round the site. In my case, my links aren't paid links to other sites, they are links to my other sites which are related. Perhaps a way of getting round it is to make all the links in the link block each point to their own 'splash page' which then links to the external site.
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