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Im not sure what this is, I personally think its a glich in there system, but I know others have had this experience also.
1. Site vanished from main keyword search
2. Home page not at the top of site: search results
3. Search on www.example.com still shows the site at #1
Have I got that right?
If so, can you confirm that on the main keyword search you are completely gone from the entire result set, and not just at the "end of results" - also known as -950?
but still think this will be a matter of days then Im back
Your instinct is what I would trust with your sites. Sounds more like a case of "popping in and out" than totally vanishing.
if I make a phrase I do get 21 pages, but thats not unusual
I don't exactly know what that means. Are you saying that 21 pages from your site or other sites are returned but not your index page?
If you do a search like below, without the com, do you get a box that says view more results from mydomain.com. Does the missing page appear there?
In your case due to the fact you're getting the pages returned in an acceptable duration of time I would check the server logs first.
[edited by: tedster at 4:17 pm (utc) on May 15, 2008]
[edit reason] swithc to example.com [/edit]
One fix would be to redirect all "bad" query strings to the same url, but minus the query string. You can discuss the technical details for that kind of redirect in the appropriate forum for your server: Apache [webmasterworld.com] or IIS [webmasterworld.com].
We used to rank no.3-6 for main KW phrase with our homepage plus have some subpages also listed (around no. 15-20). Now, the homepage is gone and we receive only subpage position no. 15-20 now. Yes, the website is cached and crawled regurarly, no recent wild onsite factor changes, new content added meanwhile as well as for previous time. The website is .com about 2 years old with no black hat seo practices at all. Some 50 links exhanged for traffic (out of several thousands other links to us).
I believe it is a glitch in G system and will end up soon. The reason for my statement is that regardless of SERPs (and taking into an account other information provided above) when we do a "site:www.domain.com KW" search at any google datacenter provided, we still get our homepage listed first, BEFORE the other subpages (that are currently the only ones ranking).
The only bad feeling is that G engineers can fix it up much later than expected. I heard that it is about vacation time already :)
[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 1:31 am (utc) on May 26, 2008]
[edit reason] removed specifics [/edit]
My Index page has hovered around the #5 spot for a long time for Blue Widgets, and has been #1 for Red Widgets. Yesterday I checked and for Blue Widgets it is gone altogether out of the serps. I went through the top 900+ results and it's not there, doesn't even look like a -950 penalty. I found 2 of my product pages in the top 100, but the Index page is no more...
For Red Widgets though, it's still at #1.
And, using the site: operator, the Index page still comes up at the top of the results.
This is not a new site.
I did notice that the index page ranks on some google. example .in maybe 5 different google loactions.
Based upon that it sounds like some geolocation problem.
The vanishing index/home page syndrome that I've seen reported in various forums for the past nine months shows some unique components. The page can be accessed in Google but it won’t appear with any direct phrase or keyword search from the page. This is consistent across all Google country engines and DC’s. The other pages of the site are seldom effected. Another aspect of this syndrome seems to be the index/home page is skipped over in the initial keyword or phrase search but will appear if you click on “more results from www. mydomain .com". I was trying to explain how to do this to Zeus.
If you can access the index/home page through any long-tail search you aren’t suffering from this vanishing index/home page syndrome. In those cases likely you have fallen victim to Google’s newer quality control features or the 950 penalty. I believe the new quality control features have some aspects exported from Adwords and do utilize manual reviewers.
Robert and Tedster though both present a clearer view of the problem and the things you need to look at first on your site that may explain your troubles before you consider this. This penalty seems to effect an aged site which has made some recent changes. From what other people have shown me nothing really black hat.
Bottom line though is many index/home pages are presently highly volatile in Google without any penalty. I believe this particular penalty though came from the de-emphasizing of the index page in all Google searches. Google was trying to elevate the sub-pages of many large sites that dealt in a variety of subjects. Basically you have to kill one to emphasize the other or vice versa. In my mind two different levels of optimization can't really co-exist in many cases. It also may deal with the way Google crawls now.
I call it a penalty because it has a definable exclusionary effect whether intended or not by Google. A thinner wallet is sufficient evidence for me though.
Just to be clear us all here we DONT have a Penalty, I still think it has to do with Google making a update to there search algo, so we will be back, but it hurts us, be cause we get less Visitors thats the Point.
Update - as of a minute ago, the missing index page is back at #5 for Blue Widgets...
::shaking head in bewilderment::
edit - to clarify, I was not logged into GWT when I checked, don't know if that matters at this point or not...
[edited by: StaceyJ at 1:25 pm (utc) on June 4, 2008]
How long the dropout lasted? Did you changed anything?
I didn't change anything except to add a 4 word link to a coupon today, but that was right before I noticed we were back, so I seriously doubt that had anything to do with it.
It really stinks that we're so paranoid to do anything to our sites for what G might do to us, but I've got to the point that life has to go on and I can't just be afraid to touch the site fearing G, otherwise I'll not have any customers either way, from G dumping me in the serps to customers dumping me because of never adding/changing the website.
It's nice to see (today) that yahoo and msn searches are now sending roughly the combined total that G had been, so things are looking a lot brighter there at least...
With anything you change in Google now have a BU especially if you’re dependent on search generated traffic.
I was not able just to sit and wait... so I was very carefully playing with the onsite factors. Did not change titles at all, however rewritten some of meta descriptions (so they are even more appealing), plus erased some major kw links from homepage to internal pages (e.g. variations of blue widgets, blue widget, widget in blue - repeated about 4-5x at the whole homepage, now 2-3x).
After next reindexing (within 2 days) by googlebot the homepage went back to SERP immediatelly (about 20-25 position, used to rank top 5). Now, after a week or so, the homepage ranks no. 10 and hopefully will get back to its top 5 again.
So, from my point of view, it seems google has dialed down some onsite factors (especially KW links to internal pages) for some verticals - and then let some homepages out. Or they fixed the glitch and our onsite tuning is just an coincidence doing no harm either :)