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rankings disappeared for no reason?

dropped rankings in Google



6:28 am on Dec 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Any ideas on this...?

My main site was ranked on the first page of Google for a dozen or so ideal keywords for the last 3 months after some good honest optimization. The site is filled with quality original content.

But then around December 1st I lost them all. They are not even in the first 10 pages.

I still have the good rankings in Yahoo in MSN, and after some more optimization, even rank #1 in Y and M for those terms.

All of the pages are still in the Google index... the site hadn't changed for months. I haven't added any reciprical links - anything!

The only thing I can think of is that it is possible to get to most pages on the site through a good static URL and also the same content through a dynamic ID= type URL. But if G finally penalized for duplicate pages - wouldn't the site have been kicked out of the index?

I get a lot of reciprical requests where people have already added links to my site, but I never follow up unless they are quality sites that are related to mine.

I have been struggling for an answer for all of December and I'm stumped. Any ideas?


11:03 pm on Dec 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Another idea - could it be a canonical issue created within Google's own sitemaps?

Around the same time I lost the rankings, I chose the non-www version as my preference within G's site maps. Has anyone has a similar problem with this?

I just did a site:mysite search in G and then a site:mysite -allinurl:www and found that my home page is still indexed as "www" while all of the other results are indexed without the "www".

Could this be the reason G is now ignoring me? Is this is sitemaps bug?


11:42 pm on Dec 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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

If Google had the majority of your urls indexed with the "www", then I've heard it can take some weeks for them to put the new pieces back together without the "www". I assume it's more complex than just throwing a switch, epecially in areas like rankings, where PR and backlinks are concerned.

Did you support your choice of "no-www" with 301 redirects on your site, or did you only indicate your preference inside Webmaster Tools?


12:21 am on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

We have fixed or optimized a page and have noticed the following.

1. Fixed/optimized page
2. Googlebot crawls the page
3. 2-3 days later it plummets from the serps for 2-3 weeks
4. Comes back into the serps at a higher place

I would venture to say google does this on purpose. A mini sandbox for a page. Just sit back and wait and see what happens.


10:45 pm on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Did you support your choice of "no-www" with 301 redirects on your site, or did you only indicate your preference inside Webmaster Tools?

I only indicated my preference. Now I wish I could go back and change that preferece, but it won't let me. The more I think about it, the more this makes sense to be the problem. Some of my less competitive phrases are still ranking - and the results show the non-www version of the pages. I believe that since my home page is still indexed as "www" then any ranking that relies on my home page (most of them!) are now lost.

Damn, I was only playing with the tool and it looks like I screwed myself for the month of December. Hopefully G will figure out their problems and fix them soon.

Another crazy thing about webmaster tools...

My site is verified - then last week it was "not-verified" for 3 days. Then it was OK again. Now today it is again listed as "not-verified" again! Nothing has changed on my site - the Google Meta Tag is still there. G seems to be having some troubles with my site and/or webmaster tools.

Anyone know where I can let them know of this? Or is it possible Matt Cutts will read this and that will be enough?

For now, I say BEWARE OF WEBMASTER TOOLS! It offers some good information, but playing with it too much can be hazardous to your rankings and traffic!


11:00 pm on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

IMO you need to be as pure as the driven before taking part in the WT program as it seems designed specifically for "guideline complyers"...


4:27 pm on Dec 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I have verified without a doubt that the choice to display the non-www version of the site within Google WebmasterTools has caused all the rankings of the site to disappear for a month and counting.

How? I have just tried searching for the exact title tag of this home page, and the exact company name, and the exact URL of the site - and none of them brings up the home page anywhere in the 700+ results.

In all cases, any of the above searches would previously bring up the home page as the #1 result (and I should hope so).

What Google has done is converted every page in their index to the non-www version EXCEPT the home page. Since I have chosen to prefer that Google show the site without a "www", Google now refuses to show the home page for any search at all since it only has a www version in the index.

I am speechless. I can hardly believe that that a simple irreversible click within WT would cause a site to be dumped for 28 days and counting.

My suggestion - don't use the display preferences tool unless you are willing to dump your site.


4:57 pm on Dec 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

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

My site is verified - then last week it was "not-verified" for 3 days. Then it was OK again. Now today it is again listed as "not-verified" again!

See this thread for more: Google Sitemaps constant re-verification [webmasterworld.com]


5:04 pm on Dec 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Er... unless you set up a redirect too... that "preferred domain" thingie won't do anything else than what it claims to do...

It will only DISPLAY all your results as www or non-www.
And give G a reason to check one version to the other.

They won't automatically drop the other version, i learned this the hard way... and since they don't, and since it displays the same content on two different URLs...

It may very well be that the homepage was the first to be spidered without the www, considered as a duplicate when compared to the www version, did not make it to the index, and thus NO links were followed from there. The rest of the pages are "displayed" as your preference but may not have been crawled on their preferred location ever since... did you check the cache dates?

But i'm just guessing.


So all in all it's probably the fact that you don't have a redirect from the www version to the other.


Put up a 301 redirect in the root directory to match your preference ( www to non-www ). Allow about ten days for the www homepage to drop out ( it'll become supplemental because of the redirect... if not the dupe content ;) ) and see if it makes a difference. You know, even WITH the redirect the old version will stay for some time ( as supplemental ).

You won't be able to check whether a page really is crawled at its new URL or not for all results will be displayed as your choice indicated.


You can try to look at the cache dates / the URLs in the cache. The -inurl:www doesn't seem to work all that well ;)

Also if there's a change that was made more or less at the time of the redirect, you can check the pages by looking for that expression. Likewise... an added navigation link, refreshed information, anything that is the same in the template, and IF not found it means that page is still the old version ( or the new... or whatever, i'm confuzed :) Oh wait... you're beofre adding the redirect. Add something short and useful, or modify something that's easy to find.

After that you'll be able to do a site:example.com "keyword" search to see if pages that had NEVER included the keyword while accessible from the www subdomain had migrated to the non-www one.

I have NO idea why i had to type this all.
Hope it helps.
...no make that i hope it made any sense.


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