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Homepage not found on any search, sub pages still rank excellently



10:32 am on Nov 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hopefully somebody has experience with this phenomenon:

Our webpage used to link fine for very competitive keywords. All of the sub-pages still do. The main page however cannot be found with any query. Even if I copy big chunks of text from it there is no search result. I've seen this at another page, too.

What might be the problem here?


9:59 pm on Nov 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

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

A few questions to zero in a bit more. Is the domain root your Home Page? If so, does it show up under a site: operator search? If it does, it is the first result?


2:15 am on Nov 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

One advantage with a subdomain is that if, for some reason, the subdomain catches a penalty, it doesn't necessarily affect the root domain. With a subdirectory, it is much more likely for trouble to affect the entire domain.
That said, a domain's internal linking is a big part of how Google decides what pages are the most important. So if you stay with the current directory set-up, I would give some thought about how you offer links from the ecommerce directory to the forum.

For example, you could offer links to the forum with an iframe so that even though your visitors get a link from every page, there's still only one link. Then you could offer links from forum pages back to your ecommerce pages in the normal way. I think that linking structure would send a message about the relative importance.


9:52 am on Nov 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Yes. Domain root is the homepage. When I type in site:www.mysite.com there are lots of subpages shown (not as the first thing though). The main page doesn't show up. The only time the index page www.mysite.com is shown in the serps is if I type in the brand name. Then the title and description of the DMOZ entry is shown.

Not sure if I understand you correctly here. The internal link structure hasn't changed for years. It's not a subdirectory or anything. Not the subpages seem to be penalized, since the rank excellently, but the homepage seems to be having a knack.


10:22 am on Nov 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


Does a search for a snippet of unique text in quotes from your homepage return the homepage in results? If not, does it return other websites for your content?

Is your homepage listed in other search engines?

I would start by checking:

Code errors on the homepage
Robots.txt, and htaccess if you use it to make sure you are not preventing the Googlebot from spidering the page.
Use a header checker to ensure that the homepage returns 'status 200'- OK


3:00 pm on Nov 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

The MAIN cause I have seen for this is webmasters NOT redirecting their /index.html, index.php, or whatever you use to /. AND, not redirecting non-www to www versions of their sites. I am assuming you are NOT doing this and this could be the problem. Seen this many, many times.

Also use this to stop dmoz titles from coming up as that hurts you:

<meta name="robots" content="noodp" />

[edited by: WiseWebDude at 3:02 pm (utc) on Nov. 16, 2007]


9:06 pm on Nov 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

@WiseWebDude: I set up the non-www to www thing in the Webmaster-Tools over a year ago. In addition we haven't changed the internal linking for years.

@CainIV: Good point with the snippet. The homepage doesn't show with any snippet, though. One other page used to show with a snipped but I changed the text immediately. That's two weeks ago. That would be an easy explanation but I don't think that's it. a) our page had the text before them (they copied it) and has the higher PR. b) Like I said I already changed it some time ago and the main page is spidered each day (new cache version every two days). c) I'm seeing this phenomenon with another page where no other page shows up with a unique snippet of that page.


12:39 am on Nov 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Have you done extensive tweaking with a keyword or two on the homepage lately?

One of the issues that I have seen involves extensive tweaking of a keyword or pharse for a particular page. G seems to know the difefrence from one change to another and enough changes, it "locks" the word or phrase and you somewhat get sandboxed for a while.


10:31 am on Nov 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

We even took the main optimized word off the page almost completely after the main page didn't show at all anymore. Really weird.


4:15 pm on Nov 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Agree with Arctrust. For the benefit of my uses I created a link to my homepage in the sidebar and that means hundreds of links in one day. Everything is fine except that my home page does not show up unless I search for the URL. In your case it is is either something like this or that somehow Google cannot read your home page.


4:38 pm on Nov 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Are you ranking for other pages? If yes, did you check to see if someone else is not ranking with your home page, what I mean by this is are you sure your homepage was not high jacked?


11:32 pm on Nov 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

How do you find out if you page has been hijaked? All subpages show good results.


2:21 am on Nov 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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

Look for a different domain on the search results where your Home Page used to rank - one that is showing your title and snippet. It's really a rankings hijack we're talking about, not truly a "page" hijack, which would mean someone enters your url and through some black magic ends up somewhere else.


7:43 am on Nov 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Ah ok. Both doesn't seem to be the case though.


8:12 am on Nov 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

the main page is spidered each day (new cache version every two days)

Are you saying that the main page is or is not in the Google cache?

Check for code errors using Xenu link sleuth at the index page.

Triple check that yoursite.com, yoursite.com/index.html and any other possible version all 301 redirect to one final version of the homepage, in other words ensure that the homepage is only accessible through exactly one url only. Check www vs non www versions as well.


9:45 am on Nov 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Do other websites show up with your text?

I've noticed websites with SOLID and longstanding rankings are getting trashed by a combination of the following:

1. People linking to them copying chunks (generally around a paragraph) of text along with the link.

2. Full page or even full site copies being placed on presumably dropped and re-registered domains with pagerank/inbound links.

3. Proxy copied pages

4. Translation service pages

This has hit 3 of our sites, actually 4 now that I think of it. They're completely unrelated in terms of topic, affiliate/adsense accounts, IPs, whois, etc.


5:17 pm on Nov 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

The main page is in the index but doesn't show with any search query at all (except with the brand name which shows the DMOZ entry). Even if I copy large chunks of text from the page it doesn't show in the SERPs.


5:39 pm on Nov 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Does any other website show in "its place" for those queries?

What does the cache of this website look like, and what is the date on the cache?


5:51 pm on Nov 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

we're having exactly the same problem. Although our domain root appears when you do site:domainname

everything has been fine for ages home page ranked on top 10 (fluctuating a bit recently) but always on the top page for very competitive key phrases, then on the 21st Nov, bang not there.

sub pages rank well still.

Any ideas would be very very welcome!


1:36 am on Nov 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

As others have suggested, it sounds like a canonical problem (usually hits the index page first). Maybe not - you sorted out the www/non-www problem a year ago - but still check it very thoroughly as the first step.


5:13 pm on Dec 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have an idea:
The internal linking back to the main page is on the keyword everytime (there is no saying "back to main page" or a button but the "/" link is on the word "keyword"). Might that be a reason for the main page not showing with anything at all (and not only for the keyword in the internal linking)?


1:15 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Kalthoff...did you manage to sort this issue out yet? Just discovered one of my sites having the EXACT same issue as yours. Done all the checks as suggested and my root domain doesn't show in the serps, a snippet of content brings up nothing from my site (and nothing that looks hijacked either). The only thing reflecting is a sub, which somehow we are ranking # 1 with on our major phrase (the page is actually nothing but a query form with meta tags). It's wierd, 7th of December it was there and 9th of Jan its gone! Along with that we fell off the serps for some of our phrases...and I mean FELL OFF! We have made zero changes and http response is 200 (ok). Did you manage to find a solution?


2:51 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

One of my site too has the same issue, home page missing. Cache date not available. Site has 301 from non-www to www, nowhere linked with /index.html. Rest of the sub pages are in Google index except home page.


6:54 am on Jan 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Okay, I found out the problem (well our problem anyway)....on the 4th of Jan Google attempted to cache the home page of a site which was residing on a crashed server. This meant that the home page was therefore inaccessible. I always thought that Google would give it a few attempts before de-indexing the page but it seems not. The page has been removed although the subs are still reflecting. I am hoping that on their next crawl they re-index the site although I am a little unsure what it means to our key phrase positioning in the serps. We had a position 7 out of 16,000,000 for one of our main phrases (its enough to bring tears to my eyes!). I guess only time will tell what this actually means to the site and how much credibility we lost along the way...


3:53 pm on Jan 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


Was Googlebot's inability to access the page also shown as an error in Google Webmaster Tools console?

Has your site recovered at all since your last post? Perhaps it is included in the index again but at a lower position?


6:31 am on Jan 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

@ dmaniatis:

Yeah it did reflect as an error on the consol (site didn't feature within Google at all not even in search for domain), since then they have cached the site again with no major change in our positioning. Phew...now there's a relief!


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