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Internal Linking Structure Changed - Indexed Pages Dropping



4:04 pm on Nov 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Can anyone help me with this?

I used to have the same left nav on all my pages but I found that it was giving credit to some of my other pages over my homepage. It also was not serving my customer needs or my revenue.

I restructured my internal navigation to reflect more what bigger merchants are doing.

They have one link off their homepage that says Blue Widgets, and when you get to the next page, the nav links read Custom, Big, Small, etc. They typically do not have left nav links that read Custom Blue Widgets, Big Blue Widgets, Small Blue Widgets. (entire keyword hyper-linked)

But in the month I have done this, my internal pages are dropping out of site:www.example.com, and when I cache them from within, Google says no longer match documents. But now my homepage is beginning to rank for the terms of my internal pages. For example, custom blue widgets. I also saw that as Google crawled my site after the internal navigation change, the custom blue widget page and the homepage would switch out. After a few days, it was just the homepage.

Is it normal for pages to no longer match as Google re-crawls the new internal navigation? The number of links pointing at some of the pages has now changed - some by quite a few hundred.

Or, have I made a big mistake and should return to the same left nav on every page?

Your help is appreciated.


6:24 pm on Nov 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

Yes, you may have made a mistake, but it's nearly impossible to say without an intensive study of your specific website - something that is outside the scope of this forum.

Making big changes to the main navigation is a major change to your site, not just a tweak. From your description, the results you are seeing now are something in the direction you hoped for, but with other consequences that you weren't hoping for.

Add into the mix that over the past month Google has made changes on their side that rank now internal pages more frequently - so everything you're seeing may not be a result of your own changes.

Reverting to your old navigation is a possibility to consider, however that may also complicate things further. Since the algo has evolved, you may not see a return to old rankings. Also, Google might see another major change as an attempt to manipulate them (which it is, sort of) and hand out a penalty.

I'd consider building from where you are - one well-planned step at a time - rather than backing up. And I'd also work more with links in the content area rather than lots of changes the main navigation. If the new navigation serves your customer needs better, that's a key factor.

How many total links were in the old navigation, and now in the new navigation?


6:29 pm on Nov 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

"it was giving credit to some of my other pages over my homepage" and "But now my homepage is beginning to rank for the terms of my internal pages."

I want to say be careful what you wish for. Have you checked the obvious.

Have you made any changes to or have you doubled checked your robots txt?

Is there any canonical issues with your links?

Have you been 301ing anything recently?


7:15 pm on Nov 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

They [Big Merchants] typically do not have left nav links that read Custom Blue Widgets, Big Blue Widgets, Small Blue Widgets. (entire keyword hyper-linked)

You are correct - especially if they have thousands of products in hundreds of categories.

One thing that Matt Cutts has said is to take your ten most profitable products and put links to them "front and center" on your index page.

I would also add links to any big money making subcategories below them - if links to those categories don't already appear on the navigation bar of the home page.


7:40 pm on Nov 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Thank you both for the input.

Tedster: There were about 40 left navigation links on about 5000 pages. These pointed to category pages. In the site hierarchy, the next most important pages. But I saw that some of the blog, sub-category, and category pages had almost double the amount of internal links pointing to them as the homepage (according to webmaster tools - WT).

Now there are 28 that point from my homepage. These point to category pages. These category pages then drill down into sub-category pages. (Widget Store - Blue Widgets - Cheap Blue Widgets).

Tantalus - No to the robots.txt. After all the changes, I checked to see if I needed to make adjustments, but I did not see any needed ones.

Yes, there were canonical issues and I attempted to fix them with 301s. I think I have a duplicate content issue on category pages that display hundreds of cheap blue widgets. Each pages shows 30 or so cheap blue widgets but there can be up to 30 of these pages. Since they are created via a template, I am unable to meta-block the duplicate ones. Weirdly enough, until recently, Google was indexing them, and Yahoo and Bing are still sending me traffic via them.

I do not want these pages to rank since they are display pages. I use titles but no meta tags, no unique content, etc. I have other pages that are SEO'd and unique.

In the last 30 or so days, I have not seen a drop in any of my major keywords. Usually Google is quick on the drop. At least for me they are.


7:57 pm on Nov 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Planet13 - thank you for responding.

I do have thousands of products but not in hundreds of categories. My niche does not have that many categories.

I was placing my bestsellers on my homepage, like Matt suggested, but it confused my customers. Even when I placed a related category underneath it.

Once I replaced them for big money categories, my sales went up. Better analytics too. Even though my customers end up on my best selling products, they did not want to be there when they arrived on my homepage. They want to click in, click to a category page, and then end up on a best seller after browsing around for a bit.

I see it like a shopping mall. When I enter the doors, even if I am shopping for shoes, I want to figure out where I am going first. I would probably walk past a display rack with the right pair of shoes only to find the same pair in the place I expect to find them - in a shoe store.

But Google may frown down upon my changes. While they may be good for my customers, and my customers can reach their goal in two clicks from the homepage, will Google?

I really respect you folks that have mastered SEO and e-comm. Sometimes the two seem at odds with each other.


8:02 pm on Nov 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

now i can suggest you just try to submit your sitemap in google's webmaster tool, it will reindex all of your pages .

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