Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from

Message Too Old, No Replies

A Checklist for Sudden Drops in Rank

What do I do next to figure out why my site dropped in ranking?



9:03 pm on Jan 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

On 12/01, my small biz site (<10 pages) dropped from pages 1-3 (frequently in the first five listings) for many search terms to pages 13-15 for all of those same terms (and is still buried). I didn't do anything to precipitate this drop, and so I assume something changed on G's end (in the famous algo). Not only are my competitors ahead of my site, but also lots of garbage. I have tried everything in my limited knowledge set to figure out what to fix (and looked at lots of forums for any news that something specific changed), and I am at a loss as far as what to do next--so I am hoping someone can direct me to the next step in a checklist of things to try.

The particulars: site is 5 years old (so no sandbox issue), lots of relevant incoming links (many more than most of the sites ahead of mine in the listings), very optimized (natural web copy with lots of keywords), no copies of my site between pages or elsewhere (I caught a couple of thieves and one removed material, I reported the other, and I changed my web text so there would be no copy issue), a G-friendly site map, all coding errors corrected.

I have also asked G about this (specifically if two dots in my site URL causes issues, if a few pages having spaces in the URL--%20 in code--causes issues, and etc.), but I get no answer. So I am stumped. The site ranked really well literally for years, and now this.

So, what have I missed that might cause such a quick and extraordinary drop? Or what is the next step in figuring out how to "fix" my site?


8:05 pm on Jan 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Folks let's get this all somewhat right shall we.

Pro Editor you are in fact presenting a classic split site canonical problem.

You need to fully escape all periods in that conditional line in order for your rewrite to get a match. In addition there must be a space between the %{HTTP_HOST} and the!^ .

I have no idea how you are setup on the hosting system but it appears that you have two valid addressable server aliases. I'll do some poking around in a bit and get back to you. I need a break from the chair and monitor.

It is possible to have multiple ip addresses and multiple subdomains with each one having multiple valid server aliases. If there is one thing about the internet it is extremely flexible and that is what causes all of the grief.


8:11 pm on Jan 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

theBear, I fixed the issues you mention, and still the 500 error. Thanks for looking into things. I too need a break and some lunch.


8:37 pm on Jan 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


Are you sure your host has htaccess set up? Even if you have the redirect written correctly it won't work unless the host allows the website owner to edit the htaccess.


9:09 pm on Jan 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Lorel, Tech support was not too helpful. They say it is set up, but when I have them look at the file, they say, "Well, I guess we don't allow for that particular use of htaccess." So, I am not sure what the situation is, whether it is operable at all or somehow limited (and why this would be is beyond me) or etc.


11:10 pm on Jan 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

anybody have any more insight on my issue? message 52 this thread



5:42 am on Jan 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Here is what I have for one of my sites, examplified:
Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST}!^example\.com
RewriteRule (.*) http://example.com/$1 [R=301,L]

Now, I am going the other way, but the syntax should be the same.
So, you should have:

Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST}!^www\.a-1writingandediting\.writernetwork\.com
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.a-1writingandediting.writernetwork.com/$1 [R=301,L]

Note: (you aren't doing it, but I had to learn the hard way, so - share the wealth :)) *no* spaces in the wrong place anywhere!, including inside the square brackets :)

{carefully checks preview}
The above is being edited by the system. There should be a space between the %{HTTP_HOST} and the!^www\.a-1writingand...
Interesting - if I put 2 spaces there, they come through as 1.



12:51 pm on Jan 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I don't think you can use .htaccess, especially not the RewriteEngine (since it's a free website/free subdomain).

302 is a temporary redirect. Only by using 301 you are able to move from domain.tld to www.domain.tld. Check out G's help center [google.com].


3:54 pm on Jan 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

leadegroot, Thanks for the code, but this version
doesn't work either.

thrasher, This was a free site when I first put it up (while building it 4 years ago), but it is a paid-for site since (although the outfit is called Freeservers, I am charged monthly). But my site still looks like a subdomain (my mistake but I really had no idea what I was doing, and the whole canonical thing came later anyway I think), and I am presently at a loss what to do about it or the htaccess issue. The tech folks at the host have not been much help so far.


6:23 pm on Jan 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

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

It is my understanding that Google started penalizing sites for using a refresh because spammers use this. Anyone know for sure?

A very fast meta-refresh used as a redirect can definitely get you into trouble with Google - although this does not seem to be automatic trouble, it is frequent. Google wants the link you click in their search results to be the page you see. So removing a fast meta-refresh redirect would be one good step to take if the rankings suddenly fell for the page.

I rarely use meta-refresh at all these days, and where I do I go for 10 seconds.

This 69 message thread spans 3 pages: 69

Featured Threads

Hot Threads This Week

Hot Threads This Month