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Homepage bouncing in and out of Google SERPS

     
2:09 pm on Oct 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



For some time now, the homepage of my site has been bouncing in and out of the SERPS for our main keyword. It hovers around pages 15-17, then it will drop out completely a few days later. I'm assuming there is some sort of penalty applied to it to a) rank that low and b) drop out entirely, but I'm not sure where to start looking. Is this type of behavior typically indicative of something? Over optimization? I don't do any link building. The onpage content does change a little each day, but things like keyword density shouldn't be fluctuating that much because the content is the same type of content every day. The homepage does come up with sitelinks if I search for our brand, but it's our main keyword that is showing this other behavior. Other pertinent info: domain is about 12 years old and has always been well favored in Google. We did get hit by Panda, but this fluctuation was going on before that (I'm just now trying to figure out why).
1:41 pm on Oct 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator goodroi is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



It would be helpful if you could provide some more details.

What is the toolbar pr of your site? (Not that tbpr is accurate but it can help with diagnosing)
About how many unique domains are linking to you?
Have you checked to see if there have been any changes in your backlinks?
Historically how much daily traffic did you have from this keyword before you started fluxing in & out of the serps?
Have you checked that your hosting is up 100%?
How often is Googlebot crawling your homepage?
Have you used Webmaster Central to fetch your homepage using Googlebot to see your content as Google sees it?
Have you checked for any duplicate content issues?
Have you checked for any malware issues?
How large is the rest of your site?
What is going on with the traffic for the rest of your site?
3:03 pm on Oct 13, 2011 (gmt 0)



Welcome to my club...17 year old B & M site and Google hasn't recognised my .com index page for at least 2 years, well, it's 500+, I just do not bother looking any more, Google has an unused Twitter page (not mine) using my company name on the second page, my .co.uk is about page 7, my .mobi about page 20, my .biz, .info, .in, .co.in, .tel, .us, .cn, .asia, .etc...nowhere!

I have keyword domains all ranking #1, all other search engines have my company name at #1, in all likelihood it's Google's problem, not yours.
3:37 pm on Oct 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member piatkow is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member




For some time now

Days? Weeks? Months?

Bouncing around in the SERPS can be due to data centres being out of sync.
5:56 pm on Oct 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



As requested, here's some additional info:

>>What is the toolbar pr of your site? (Not that tbpr is accurate but it can help with diagnosing)

It's been a steady 5 for many years.

>>About how many unique domains are linking to you?
I'm not sure how to find the unique domains, but if I do link:http://www.mysite.com -site:mysite.com I get 60,300 results.

>>Have you checked to see if there have been any changes in your backlinks?
Not that I've found.

>>Historically how much daily traffic did you have from this keyword before you started fluxing in & out of the serps?
I really don't know. I never paid much attention to it specifically. It's a very competitive term, but we used to rank quite well for it. Then one day (2-3 years now) I noticed we were down on page 75 or so. We've managed to get back up to to page 6 at one point, but have been where I mentioned now with the flux for at least a year.

>>Have you checked that your hosting is up 100%?
Yes, we have top notch hosting. It's a major website so there is no downtime. Load balanced dedicated servers, cache server, db server, etc.

>>How often is Googlebot crawling your homepage?
Daily, at least. Changes to the homepage get picked up and are in the SERPs in under 24 hours usually.

>>Have you used Webmaster Central to fetch your homepage using Googlebot to see your content as Google sees it?

Yes, no problems with it. No errors or warnings.

>>Have you checked for any duplicate content issues?
There shouldn't be any on-site issues with that. non-www and www are properly set up to only go to www. Searching for unique strings from the homepage turns up a few (under 10) of the typical scraper mashup sites, but there are no major amounts of scraped text that look like they would be an issue.

>>Have you checked for any malware issues?
There are none.

>>How large is the rest of your site?
Very large. Around a million pages total, not all of which is allowed to be spidered, of course. About 150,000 pages are currently in G's index.

>>What is going on with the traffic for the rest of your site?
Pre-panda - it was great. :) We rank(ed) as expected against our competitors.
7:14 pm on Oct 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator goodroi is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



I am sorry you are having trouble. I think you might want to invest more into your internet marketing efforts. You say you have a 12 year old site with over a million pages but you don't know how many unique domains are linking to you? That is a red flag to me.

Webmasters should regularly monitor their backlinks. You should pay attention to anchor text distribution, unique domains, unique ips and also the rate of gaining/losing backlinks. This information can be gained by using Google webmaster central or using a paid service.

Backlinks have significant influence on rankings and can also cause penalties. More research should be done to make sure you don't have problems with your backlinks.

Also double check your sever setup. Having multiple servers can create issues if they are not setup properly. Even if they were originally setup correctly a worker might have broken something when touching the setup.
1:00 am on Oct 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



So, are you saying that the backlinks could cause this sort of bouncing? that's my main concern - what is causing the bouncing - it seems to be a message of some sorts.
1:32 am on Oct 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator goodroi is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



IMHO bouncing in and out is not as big as Google not ranking your site any higher than position 150. Personally I feel its a much louder message from Google that they will not rank your homepage higher than page 15.
7:28 am on Oct 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



I would have thought that a drop that large and that sudden could only mean either that...

(a) some algo tweak reassessed your site's worthiness for that term, regardless of its content, link profile etc, OR
(b) there was a significant (in Google's eyes) change to your content and link profile as regards that term

If you can pinpoint the exact date then reading threads here from shortly after that time could help if it's A. Getting an SEO experienced in working on mega-sites to do a 'site MOT' should help establish if B is a possibility.
4:25 am on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)



Sounds like your site has Panda Fever. Unpredictable and wild swings are common with Panda, even with well established but poorly branded sites. If you follow what Google has stated in regards to this, you might be wise to assess your site's quality. Identify and remove/strengthen weak pages, remove duplicated content/pages, etc. Also, the wild swings could be related to which datacenter is actually serving you.

Good luck
4:45 am on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)



IMHO bouncing in and out is not as big as Google not ranking your site any higher than position 150. Personally I feel its a much louder message from Google that they will not rank your homepage higher than page 15.


Sounds like your site has Panda Fever. Unpredictable and wild swings are common with Panda, even with well established but poorly branded sites.

Goodroi, it's Panda . My site would not rank for a certain term anywhere better than 180 when I checked after Panda. Then it was 500 and then disappeared. Since September I'm in the 30-50 range. Totally insane, totally Panda, totally Google, totally ruining people's lively-hoods.

My term would be the equivalent of "Advice for Webmasters" for this site, last link added with that was years ago and only 3-4 mention it so it wasn't over-optimizing at all. Hundreds of other links are with "domain name" or domainname.com since it makes sense.
5:57 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator goodroi is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



We did get hit by Panda, but this fluctuation was going on before that

I think Walkman you might have overlooked this statement by the author. Let's keep this thread on topic - Why is a homepage bouncing in & out of serps since before Panda.
8:59 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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



One thing I would suggest is to really get someone who is independent to look at the home page for ANY type of technical problem.

I know this was probably the first thing you checked, but I would kindly suggest that a technical problem COULD be the cause of the symptoms you described, and would be pretty much the easiest thing to correct.
9:17 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



ANY type of technical problem.


I've had quite a few people look at the page and so far no technical issues have been brought up. www/non-www are properly resolving. The page validates. Nothing in robots.txt or any mod security/mod rewrite rules are blocking anything. Page loads in all browsers.

I'm going to start trying to put together any correlation between # pages indexed for the entire site, backlinks counted, and drop/gains in ranking for that keyword. It feels like there must be a pattern somewhere that can explain it.
4:17 pm on Oct 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator goodroi is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



I would not be so quick to rule out technical issues especially when you have multiple servers involved.

I think the bigger issue is more likely in your backlinks & site content. I would focus on why you are page 15 and resolving that issue will likely also resolve the issue of bouncing in & out of the serps.
4:51 pm on Oct 16, 2011 (gmt 0)



@getcooking
test some online tools to see if your site loads from different locations and at different times. If it loads, while nothing can be ruled out 100%, other things may be much more likely. Especially if Bing, Blekko or Yandex has it.
8:12 pm on Oct 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Thanks for the feedback. We definitely have tested the site (and homepage particularly) for any technical issues - if they are there, no one has found them yet.

I did neglect to mention initially that we rank highly in Bing for our main keyword, so it seems to be Google specific. Many interior pages rank competitively in Google, if it was indeed a technical issue, wouldn't they also be affected? It seems like Google has a problem with our homepage only. Also, in the time that the bouncing has been happening, I have completely redesigned the homepage - and it didn't affect anything - same SERPS results, bouncing in and out.
8:30 pm on Oct 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

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



Google has been known to have occasional technical issues of their own when it comes to domain roots - incomplete polling from the data stored at a particular back end server and the like. They apparently store at least some domain roots in a dedicated location. Then they need to import and integrate those domain root lists into the production environment's complete data set. That kind of thing used to happen relatively often in years past.

In terms of your own possible technical issues, have you used one of the online DNS check-ups to see if there's any possibility of someone messing with your DNS cache in a periodic way?
8:34 pm on Oct 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



If someone was messing with the DNS, wouldn't that affect interior pages as well?
9:35 pm on Oct 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

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



yes, but it's often not as noticeable. At any rate, it's a good practice to check your DNS set-up, get a clean report or fix some issue, and then you can scratch that one off the list.
 

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