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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?


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

"My traffic's up even more. "

hey, gimme back my traffic...you *** ;)

[edited by: eelixduppy at 9:47 pm (utc) on Feb. 18, 2009]


9:11 pm on Oct 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Muhahahaha, never!



12:00 am on Oct 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi Walkman,

I did the search and the sites that came up were largely unrelated. They are businesses that would have an interest in our services, but they are not particularly related with respect to keywords. Your theroy is that this may have something to do with the relevance of inbound links? To complcate matters, I can say that several of the pages that dropped off the radar did have only highly relevant inbound links.


P.S. Webfusion, I do get your point and it would be vaild in this case if all my eggs were in one basket, but the oportunity cost of spending 4 months chasing links in order to achieve say a PR6 or 7 for this particular business wasn't the best use of time. I'm holding out faith that the current siutation can be analyzed and the root causes discovered in short order. (If not, a new marketing mix will certainly be in the offing.)


12:22 am on Oct 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think the unrelated is they key. I'm gueesing of course since I don't work for google.


5:39 am on Oct 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I get zero returns in G for a link search - link:www.mysite.co.uk - when for a fact there are 230+ in links, some of high quality.

Does anyone think this may be related to the loss of traffic from 22-23, or have any other explanation?



7:04 am on Oct 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Just for the record...

If you do a site:www.mysite.com command, any result that shows just a url, without a description, has been crawled but not indexed. My understanding is that this COULD be due to duplicate content.

I can pretty much rule this one out. All my pages have content descriptions, yet are now non existant. Plus, many pages with zero duplicate content also disappeared.

Also, my site had no affiliate links (no Amazon) and none of the pages that got taken down had any links to external sites at all.

Has anyone NOT added a lot of new pages over the last few months?

No new pages in many months.

Does anyone NOT have a lot of similar content on a lot of pages?

Many pages have a fair degree of repetition, but not all. Still, all subpages have disappered. In fact, my site is perferming exactly as it does in Yahoo now. No subpages being indexed, only the title page.

Does anyone NOT have heavy internal linking?

No, but 90% subpages are linked from index only.

Does anyone NOT have a lot of inbound and/or internal links with identical anchor text?

Many internal links most of which share a common keyword as in "service1 keyword1" "service2 keyword1" "service3 keyword1". etc. But the ones in foreign languages share no keywords, but are gone too.

Does anyone NOT have some sort of affiliate links?


Does anyone NOT have more than 1,000 pages?

Far, far less.

I think Walkman has it. One of the factors may be a heightened sensativity to unrelated outbound links that make it appear as if you're buying or selling PR. But I have a question...

If this is the case, why sack all of my sub-pages (which have no outbound links whatever) and keep my index page, which is the most likely offender?


8:20 am on Oct 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Rather than look at ourselves, I am wondering if this is a Google-based 'blip'?

I am seeing long out of date pages which we have left on the server in 'limbo'- therefore with no internal or incoming links - showing up!

In other words, is the majority of this SERPS database and 'old', out of date one?

Personally, I am going to inform clients of this but not take any action for the time being. This is such a moving target at the moment that any kind of concerted response would be way off at the moment. Luckily, few of our clients rely on e-commerce, so I fully appreciate that this is a 'luxury' for us.

If this is a drastic algo change on Google's part, I cannot see how this is benefiting them. At the moment they seem to be returning a LOT of PDF's, and results from third parties rather than genuine, relevant pages which meet a search criteria - how can this help the Google brand?


9:23 am on Oct 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

P.S. Webfusion, I do get your point and it would be vaild in this case if all my eggs were in one basket, but the oportunity cost of spending 4 months chasing links in order to achieve say a PR6 or 7 for this particular business wasn't the best use of time. I'm holding out faith that the current siutation can be analyzed and the root causes discovered in short order. (If not, a new marketing mix will certainly be in the offing.)

Perhaps if you only consider link building as a "PR building" strategy. A better use (IMHO) for link building, beyond the obviuos link pop, PR, etc., is as a traffic source in and of itself.

For example...our link building campaign has been ongoing for about 8 months now. BY keeping our link devlopment "theme" focused and tightly managed, not only have we reaped the benefits of ever-increasing organic traffic, but several of those sites are generating sales on a daily basis. In fact, our link partners now bring in over $100 a day in sales (not much, but $3k a month in marketing-cost free sales is nothing to sneeze at).

At this point, those links bring in over 400 visitors per day ;-)


12:47 pm on Oct 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

This is what I can report so far.

Site: 4000 pages of 100% original content, some Amzon links on the site but no AWS.

I had a drop of traffic in August , about 30 %

Got a boost in traffic september 23, more than I had before the drop in August , this high lasted for about 7 days. Then it slowly started to go down again. For the last 5 days I have been losing over 5 % each day. And I am now back to where I started before the drop in August. I just hope it won't go further down. I was making so much money in that last week of september, I rembember thinking what if...what if! But of course it didn't last long, I guess that would have been too easy :)


3:41 am on Oct 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

This just plain sucks.

A popular term that I was in the top 3 for, I'm now on page 7. I could accept this if there were 6 pages of quality sites between page one and where I am, but that is not the case at all.

The first page of results has 7 spam sites out of 10 results, NO actual relevant content on any of them, just auto-generated spam with 'insert key phrase here' in the middle of sentences, H1 tags and links, and they even get indented results for this junk. The top 3 listings are relevant, but below that it's pure trash, with celebrity laced domain names, you name it.

Do searchers really want to see this crap on page 1? I'm 100% sure they don't.

The pages are also stuffed with links to affiliate programs, so that can't be a big part of why sites are being hurt.

These results are way below the quality Google showed for this phrase over the past few years, so why can't they find this crap now?


4:13 am on Oct 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I agree this sucks big time. I'm still hoping that some sites getting hit wasn't fully intentional, and that my site will bounce back in another month or two. Back with Scroogle update, a few of my pages got hit, and Googeguy just said they were "adjusting the knob".

This Sept 23rd filter is very odd, if it is intentional. My home page at times ranks >20th for the site's name. Yet, I have some internal pages that are able to rank 10th for their keywords (I even had one search ranking 7th) - now these were terms I ranked 1st for for over a year, but I can live with 7th better than 25th. I would imagine if my site was getting a true penalty, I'd be gone - which would REALLY suck. So, hopefully as Google adjusts the knob over the next few updates, sites like mine won't trigger the filter - if it is even a filter.


4:21 am on Oct 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I can't believe this is intentional, I too hope that things revert.

For some terms I follow, it's not as bad, but still full of 'celebrity-name.domain.biz/celebrity-keyword1-keyword2/celebrity-keyword.html' pages that are auto generated, beating out sites with original content. In some cases rock solid .edu sites that haven't moved in a year and have no revenue scheme are down badly also.

That suggests to me that it's not about punishing affiliates, driving people to buy adwords or anything else planned by human beings with brains.

BUT, another thing I'm seeing: Several terms I follow return SERPs where, for the first 5 pages NONE of the sites listed have the phrase in the title tag, or the snippet showed by google (even though lots of good sites used to show up the old, traditional way). On some other very similar phrases, the results do show the phrase in the title and the snippet like always, so what to make of that?

The idea that sites that have passed inspection by Yahoo and DMOZ editors could be beaten down by cheap spam makes me question whether Google has blown a fuse somewhere, somehow. The weird SERPs with no mention fo the phrase in the title really confuse me though, as it's almost looking like a filter.

Fingers crossed that happy people will be posting here soon saying that they can see stuff coming back where it belongs.
I'm probably not contributing a lot to the thread, but this is weighing heavily on my mind the past 12 days or so.

As others have said, IMHO the SERPs have never been as good as they were before fall 2003, and not just for my sites, but for things I search on a hobby 'joe surfer' level also.

[edited by: Spine at 4:45 am (utc) on Oct. 6, 2004]


4:36 am on Oct 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I was just checking my serps again (I don't remember ever checking them this often - like I'm expecting to wake up from a bad dream and all my old rankings will be back) and for a few search terms, I'm showing up on both the first AND second page of the results. For two terms, I'm the last result on the first AND second page! For another term, I'm the last result on the first page, and the 5th result on the second page. Personally, I'd rather have my 1st spot back, but two listings is something I hadn't seen before. I was thinking maybe it has something to do with pulling from different datacenters when I go to the second page, but even when I search a datacenter by IP address, I'm showing up on both pages. Very odd.


4:54 am on Oct 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Rick_M, I just noticed this 'being on 2 pages at once' thing again tonight too!

I say again, because Google was doing this about 1-2 months ago, then the behavior seemed to fade away (or vanish instantly I'm not sure) and I hadn't seen this since until tonight.

I'm right there with you on the checking keywords fever over here, it's horrible, but I can't help myself.

I'm reluctant to add much content now, or go messing with the pages I already have. I just end up trying keywords, looking for patterns and coming back here, then looping back and starting again.


5:13 am on Oct 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I feel your pain. I’ve always known that the top of the SERPs is a precarious place to be, but I never thought this would happen to me. This sort of tragedy, like car accidents, unexpected pregnancies, and tax audits, is supposed to just happen to other people.

I vaguely remember reading that someone did well with a new page he made on a site that had been hit. Has anyone bothered trying to make new pages since this problem began?


5:50 am on Oct 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Every time I think I have a grip on what may be the common denominator, it seems someone crops up with a contradictory case.

I have noticed though that there is a deterioration in Google results. I don't know if it is related to 22/23 Sept, but pages and pages of results are increasingly made up of auto-generated links pages. I went looking for a blind to buy online last night and just kept going round in circles - the actual sites selling blinds were lost in a fog of spam.

I guess there is a faint hope that what is happening is a short term adjustment on the way to getting rid of all this spam, and that original-content sites will soon be restored to their former glory....

If only ...


6:02 am on Oct 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Spam fog is a good description. Where I used to see several decent sites clumped together, and some spammy stuff here and there as you get further from page 1, I now see clumps of spammy sites with decent sites scattered all over the place and buried.

Some terms/phrases show results that aren't quite as bad, others are spastic looking.

I'm also seeing lots of domains appearing in the serps without www. in front, more than I think I used to. This obviously does not apply the sites with 3rd level domains like site.domain.com, but there's more of those too I think.

It seemed the 3rd level domain stuff was toned down for awhile, and now it's back?


8:40 am on Oct 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

This has got to be a 'Google generated' blip.

If they have changed the algo, added a filter etc., what has been the effect or net benefit of this?

PDF's, Word.docs and other spurious results appearing in SERPS above a domain search!

Just how has this improved Google or weeded out spam?

One thought I am trying not to think of is that:

a) They are trying to drive people to AdWords - by returning crap organic results. I am still trusting enought to believe Google wouldn't be so heavy handed.

b) A big, new corporate shareholder (Yahoo?) is actually devaluing Google's brand ready for a buy-out in all but name. A bit far fetched I grant you.

Could someone shine a light in the sky for GoogleGuy? Obviously, I don't expect an 'explanation', but just to know if this is an algo change, old database or blip would be so useful. It is in Google's interest to clarify this also.


3:47 pm on Oct 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Unless their goal is to push down pages with decent PR in favor of pages with PR 0 that spawn pop-up advertising. Sites with no backlinks, because no sane person would see a point in linking to it.


7:11 pm on Oct 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

On the 17th of september Germany gave us Oktoberfest.....On the 23rd of September I was introduced to Spamfest, at least on the keywords I'm monitoring.....Fingers crossed this is a temporary glitch caused by some over zealous algo knob tweaking....Maybe I'm just biased, perhaps the search results are better after the sep 23rd tweak?


9:00 pm on Oct 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Spine, I couldn't agree with you more. I've seen lately so ubsurd results I couldn't nelieve my eyes. Spam spam spam! I've even reported to Google a couple of spammy sites at the very top of the SERPs, so spammy with auto generated pages, redirects and much more I though Google would drop them the next day. Insstead they rank even better!
There is also a case with a certain page of Ask Jeeves that comes up in the top ten for all sorts of search terms, most of them don't even appear either in the title, or the content or even in backlinks. It's like the Joker of SERPs! If this is not a self destructive mood that has taken over Googleplex then Google's engineers must have sleepless days and nights trying to figure out what has gone wrong. I've a;ready removed all Google search boxes from my sites. My visitors deserve better...


9:54 pm on Oct 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Not to brag, but I predicted this. PR's are updated! Check out my post on page 9 of this thread!


4:41 am on Oct 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Another thing that nags at me is that I decided to add a forum to my site on the 21st of September. I was on IRC with people from the hosting company, and had them set things up so that I can use MySQL databases and PHP as the forum software requires (both still a bit of a mystery to me).

The forum software (phpBB2) was super easy to set up, works no problems, but I still keep coming back to wondering if doing this (or having the 'backend' stuff set up) affected me.

Probably just paranoia, but now that I'm checking the local job listings, I have to wonder about all the possible things that could be causing me problems.

Logic and theory are interchangable in my stressed out brain right now...


7:29 am on Oct 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Venix - you are right on the money.

I have suffered Aug 5th as well and returned back up a bit September 23rd.

Everybody knows: it's an up-down game, especially as you should work for all SE's, not just G.

Diversification, another diversity factor can help you as well: various topics, spread across unrelated sites.

One goes down, one comes up.

I am pretty stable now cuz I got many dogs on the run.


9:34 am on Oct 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

pages added on my site on sep22 have not been PR'ed by G but those on Sep19 have been. Traffic does seem low from G in between the dates....as per stats!


3:11 pm on Oct 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Will this solve our Google problem?

We vanished from Google search results for various keywords in late September.

We have 10 domain names:


All of these domain names point to the xyz.com web site. xyz.com is our primary website and what is spidered by Google. There are about 250 pages in this site, all of them in Google's archives.

For the some of the 9 other domain names, if you go to (for example) the xyy.com web site and click on the links, it will say xyy.com/page1.htm, xyy.com/page2.htm, etc. I believe this is called masking. On the other domain names, if you go to xyt.com it will display xyz.com/page1.htm.

As I said, we disappeared from the Google search results (Yahoo's as well). All of the pages appear for xyz.com when I search specifically for that domain, but the pages don't display in the keyword search results.

For various reasons over the years, all 10 of these domain names have been added to Google. Google has the URL for these domain names, but as of today has only cached xyz.com. The cached text has disappeared for the other 9 domains.

Adding all these domains to Google wasn't done to "game" the search engine. It was done out of naivety by people long gone from the company. The company owner wanted to secure his rights by grabbing all variations of the company's name.

Here is what we are doing. Please let me know if you think this will work.

We are moving our primary domain, xyz.com, to a new top-tier host provider. The other 9 domain names will remain on the current low-rent host we have been using. A robots.txt file will be added to disallow spidering on the remaining 9 websites.

Once the changes have propagated, should I contact Google staff via e-mail, wait for Google to revisit, and/or resubmit xyz.com? Will Google remove the 9 domains that the spider is telling them to ignore, or should I contact them?


6:52 pm on Oct 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I can't help but think that there is something to learn from a change I see.

Pre-sept 23, when you typed in a certain keyphrase, my site would be #1 and appear as www.my-domain-keyword.com, often with a fresh tag.

Since then, I still show up #1 (for that one phrase in my domain name) without the www in front, which is how I'm listed in DMOZ/google directory (and no more fresh tag).

When I do a site:www.my-domain-keyword.com I see 103 pages, which is how many I have.

When I try site:my-domain-keyword.com I get 155 pages, some are the same page appearing twice, but with and without the www, and some are even supplemental results showing pages I deleted 6 months ago (or more).



4:34 am on Oct 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hate to flog a dead horse :)

There are so many odd things I'm seeing over the past couple of weeks, so I'd hate to say that it's one simple cause for what's causing any of this, but here's something I'm seeing...

After florida update, I was careful to make sure I don't use a combination of keywords too obviously, so instead of keyword1 keyword2 beside each other 4 times on one page, I might have had them beside each other once, and then sprinkled around on the page with other words in between.

At the time this seemed to help, and some people were saying this reflected a more natural, less spammy looking writing style.

Could it be that the algo is back to rewarding the pages with keywords clumped together the way it used to? Lots of sites doing well for the phrases I watch are shameless in using the keyword1 keyword2 over and over again. Some are good sites with real content layed out this way, others are spam with PR 0.

So many other weird things I'm seeing though, it's hard to say it could be any one factor, but maybe my pages being too 'cautious' for this algo is one obvious thing I'm overlooking?

Anybody else have some thoughts on this?


5:57 am on Oct 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Spine, I don't think it's anything as subtle as keyword location. I know of two fairly large sites that have fairly high keyword density and quite distinctive and consistent keyword location. Other than having slightly different topics, many pages are of almost identical style.

Site A didn't get hit and is a little older and a little smaller than Site B, which did get hit. Site A is doing just fine in the SERPs, as usual.

Both sites also have a number of other pages that don't have any standard keyword pattern. Almost all pages on Site A are doing well and almost all pages on Site B are completely sunk.

Either there are multiple algos affecting different sites separately, or some entire sites crossed some threshold(s) and got zapped, or Google's broke.

Here’s an off-the-wall theory.
- Site B added a ton of new pages over the last few months – more than Site A.
- Site B has few quality inbound links for a site of its (new) size.
- The toolbar now indicates a higher PR for older pages. Before anyone says anything, I know the toolbar isn’t accurate. The pattern seen on the toolbar, however, implies a bias toward older pages.
- The toolbar PR is thought to lag behind real PR updates.

Could it be that a (real – not toolbar) PR update on Sept 22 caused a bit of a “PR vacuum” due to the large number of new pages, thus creating a site-wide PR deficiency caused by the seniority-related PR bias?

It could be something simple like PR being devalued by 85%, instead of 15%, when a link points to a new page. This would explain why some sites bounce back a month or two after being hit. It would even come pretty close to explaining the sandbox phenomenon, wouldn't it?

This is probably just a goofy idea but I can’t help thinking that the problem is PR-related.


6:01 am on Oct 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Excuse me in my first post if I am covering old ground here but I do have a problem that is concerning one of my sites.

I too have experienced the recent downs and some ups of Google and am still puzzled too. While my traffic has slowly increased lately, it is still not recovered to where it was earlier in the year.

Aside from that issue, when I search for my site on google, entering the term ‘mydomain’ I see several results from a site that is not mine (wrongsite.com) listed with my title, my description and their URL. The URL actually goes to one of my pages.

More investigation shows up lots and lots of similar results on different pages for different search terms, all the same site. I have around 20,000 pages on the site and have not experienced anything like this with any other of my sites as far as I know.

I’ve written to Google and got no reply, I’ve even tried writing to the site in question (based in Italy) and got no reply.
So, I do have a question:

Lets say wrongsite.com is spidered by google, and their page with my content is indexed. What happens when Google then finds another route to the same page of mine? Does it see my page as duplicate content, after all they already have a page exactly like it in their index which looks like mine but is attributed as being owned by wrongsite.com.

Its like the link is being redirected, btw

So, could I be penalized for duplicate content? – Also, what are the benefits to wrongsite.com doing this to me. Are they doing it for financial gain or for rankings or for some other reason?

What can I do about getting these links removed from the results?

Thanks for any advice and suggestions,


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