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Google "site:" operator returning low or no results

     
2:04 am on Jun 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Greetings and Gidday from Downunder folks,

Been a while since I posted for feedback or confirmation on anything Google, but while watching and analysing GA SC queries cliff drop report on a site from around March 21st, (and I'm talking from 100-200 daily queries IMP and 40-60 CTR, down to 20-50 IMP and 0-3 CTR), so I just did a google.com and google.com.au "site:exampledn.com.au" search.

Results for "any time" showed most of the pages, "last month" showed four pages, and "last week" and "last 24 hours" showed NO pages!

As in "Your search - site:exampledn.com.au - did not match any documents.Reset search tools".

Have I missed something in the slew of updates or is this the new normal for organic SERPs now? And if so, what does it mean?

If not, any advice? (And please don't say I should be using GSC, I just find it so incredibly frustrating and obtuse, virtually nothing there of benefit to me, apart from checking what Google considers "errors", getting sitemaps indexed, or individual urls reindexed. And let's not mention all the recent UI issues they've had, so doesn't instill much confidence, frankly.)

Thanks in advance for any feedback.
JP
4:13 am on June 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Google was having indexing problems in May. Check the Search Engine Roundtable blog and Danny Sullivan's Google Twitter account @googlewmc .

There was a Google update in March also. Check the same references as above around beginning of March to mid March.
4:39 am on June 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I've slept since "then" ... but I seem to recall that g has made an alteration of the "site:" operator. And a few of the other boolean ops as well.

Still works in bing... but even that is getting messy of recent months ....

YMMV
11:02 am on June 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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From the OP...
Results for "any time" showed most of the pages, "last month" showed four pages, and "last week" and "last 24 hours" showed NO pages!
jpalmer, no fair testing how carefully members here read posts before they answer them. ;)

From your description, IMO, there's nothing apparently wrong with the site: operator....And what you're seeing, viz that "any time" is showing most of your pages... is what's normal and expected. "Last week" or "last 24" hours would be showing only what's been recently published, spidered, and indexed.

I've never seen the the site: search operator combined with Google's Time Tool... but I've always used that Time Tool (which is actually a filter) to limit the time range of my search, so I'm searching, say, for only fresh pages. This helps isolate results that haven't had a chance to build up big link reputations, and to search only among the new stuff. That makes recent results easier to find. At least, that's one use of the tool.

Double-checking in Google documentation, I find in this support article....

Filter your search results
[support.google.com...]

My emphasis added
You can filter and customize your search results to find exactly what you want. For example, you can find sites updated within the last 24 hours, or photos of a certain color....

Search tools
After you decide which type of results you want, you can refine your results with Search tools. These tools can include things like location, color, size, and the date a page was published.

So, the Time Tool along with the site: operator might give you a range of how many new pages were indexed or revised and when. I haven't tried that, but it would be an interesting test to run.

But for general site: results, as in what are they now?, "any time" is probably most appropriate to use. Again, it's showing publication date. If the page is gone, Google, as I remember, is not going to include it in current results.

See also new functionality added to the Time tool, which I like a lot. I'm not sure I'd get into it to filter my site; searches, but I'm guessing it might work, given the limitations of what this new date range filter can index. Details in this thread...

Google testing "before:" and "after:" commands to help find old pages
April, 2019
https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4942129.htm [webmasterworld.com]

11:06 am on June 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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PS: As noted above, Google has been having some big indexing problems, and you can use this thread I'm noting as a reference. It's our second main thread of three, and addresses residual problems many have been having over the period of Google's glitches. All three of our threads include links to the other threads in the sequence, if you want to explore the entire series of problems Google was dealing with....

April 2019 Google indexing & reporting bugs continue... It's not you!
https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4943488.htm [webmasterworld.com]

I really don't know whether the problems have persisted in any way... but I think somewhere that John Mueller said that are really in the past by now. Also, I don't think that what you've described relates to those errors. I think it's simply about how you're interpreting the Time Tool.

6:51 am on June 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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jpalmer, no fair testing how carefully members here read posts before they answer them. ;)


Ya got me, podner! Arrgh ...

(Memory of change was correct, just missed the "before" "after" aspect as I never use it in the first place ... and most times don't use g in the first place. :)

There's more than one SE on the web ... and some of them work better. (sigh)
6:57 am on June 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@jpalmer ... g indexes when they index ... check your LOGS for that activity ... and see if they are picking up your NEW pages (you are doing those, right, now pages?).

If there's no change on YOUR end, they won't make any on their end.

As for the cliff... that a different kettle of fish which others have addressed elsewhere on WW.
3:17 am on June 21, 2019 (gmt 0)

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jpalmer, no fair testing how carefully members here read posts before they answer them. wink
Robert_Charlton Well, here I was just thinking I was being concise. ;-P

htmlbasictutor. Thanks, I had already been following that twitter account, but ... meh ... Still, it's always useful to get a reminder which "sources" to check before getting into a complete panic and jumping off the deep end by doing something that didn't need doing. :-)

As for the cliff... that a different kettle of fish which others have addressed elsewhere on WW.

Tangor, can you point me to them please? I've had a good look through a fair few threads (and other web searches, google algo updates etc.) before posting, and didn't find anything that I thought provided any logical answer.

It's driving me nuts. I just want to know why.

Thanks everyone for your feedback, much appreciated.

Have a great weekend
Cheers and Hooroo

JP
4:21 am on June 21, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@jpalmer ... no answers, just oodles of speculation, supposition, angst, teeth-gnashing, hair-pulling etc. G never reveals anything.

Aside: it appears we have a "cliff" every few months ... all on the downside. This appears to be the new "normal".
4:55 am on June 21, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Hi again all, thanks @Robert_Charlton for the additional links. I feel a bit better, the problem only seems to have occurred in the GA SC queries, on only one of my sites,

and @tangor,
Aside: it appears we have a "cliff" every few months ... all on the downside. This appears to be the new "normal".

OK, sigh ..... (firing up the hamster wheel. Oh well, it's time the site got a bit of an SEO /tech audit anyway.)

Cheers again all
JP
7:40 pm on June 21, 2019 (gmt 0)

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These recurring "cliffs" mentioned may all be related to the major algo changes g rolls out every once in a while ... but staggered across sections/niches of the web so that the HURT is not done to all AT ONCE, but extended by groups until ALL ARE EVENTUALLY AFFECTED.

If 100% of all sites (that will be affected) are done in one fell swoop can you not imagine the blowback to g? By doing it 10% of the web every 30-60 days there's only a small number complaining ... while the rest are scratching heads and saying "well ... that didn't happen to me!"

The PR bad is managed, the roll out continues, and g eventually gets where it was headed without creating an image/revolt problem.

</commonsense business social engineering speculation off>
2:57 am on June 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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If 100% of all sites (that will be affected) are done in one fell swoop can you not imagine the blowback to g? By doing it 10% of the web every 30-60 days there's only a small number complaining ... while the rest are scratching heads and saying "well ... that didn't happen to me!"


Well that makes sense. Cheers. (Now waiting to see it hit my other sites. Sigh....)