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Odd Google Bug Which Has De-indexed About 10 Important Pages


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#1 abernhardt

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 12:00 PM

I wanted to post this bug up on the forum to get anyone's feedback on this issue I recently encountered 2 days ago. Out of the blue, my rankings for a few internal pages slid back or tanked, so I looked into the Google SERPs to see what happened. The pages that usually rank for about 20 or 30 strong keywords weren't there for my site. Instead, they are other pages that are related to the query but not as optimal, so my rankings moved back for the queries and the ideal landing pages are out of the index.

I then checked the Google cache of each page and Google has a cache of a total unrelated page for each of the 10 pages that slid out of the index. It was VERY weird to see. And these are pages that are well supported throughout our site in strongly themed ways, through lots of internal and external links, in-content links, etc.

This appears to be a hiccup and bug on Google's side. Especially because when I look at my rankings for the main 30 keywords for these 10 pages in Yahoo and Bing, the rankings look fine and caches look fine.

So my action plan thus far was I tweaked the title tags and created a new copy block last night on each page and then did 2 blog posts from 2 different blogs with in-content links pointing to the de-indexed pages. I also tweeted about each page from 3 different twitter accounts. I have other blogs that I'll be working on today to get more blog links injected into these pages to get them re-indexed.

I have seen this happen to a few competitors of mine over the years in Google, but then their page will pop back up within a few days because of backlinks and having an optimized site. So we may have lucked out from a few Google bugs hitting other sites every once in a while, but this is the first time in 7 years that I have seen anything like this happen to our site.

My question for you all - Have you ever seen anything like this happen to your site before? It seems like a Google bug and I can't simply wait for them to fix it so I'm trying to do all of the best things to get these pages back up.

Thanks!

#2 Michael Martinez

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 02:21 PM

Yes. Every now and then something breaks at Google but they are usually pretty good at fixing it -- or maybe what we're interpreting as "breaks" are just glimpses into how Google processes content and we're seeing snapshots at unusual times in the process.

What you did was probably about the best thing anyone could do, other than to wait it out.

#3 qwerty

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 02:29 PM

QUOTE
I then checked the Google cache of each page and Google has a cache of a total unrelated page for each of the 10 pages that slid out of the index. It was VERY weird to see.

Yes, I guess it's possible that Google hiccupped and attributed the content from some pages to different URLs, but I can't say I've seen that happen before. I've certainly seen them drop pages when there was nothing wrong with them and bring them back after a few days, but attributing the wrong content to them is a new one for me. But there are other possibilities. Someone could have hacked your site so that those pages would show the wrong content to Google. Have you tried going into Webmaster Tools and using the Fetch as Googlebot tool on those URLs? I'd say this is highly unlikely -- if someone was going to hack your site they'd replace your content with something very different, like hundreds of links to porn and gambling sites, but it can't hurt to look.

Since this all happened (or at least was noticed) just two days ago, your best bet is probably to wait a few days and see if this fixes itself.

#4 abernhardt

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 02:51 PM

QUOTE(qwerty @ Dec 3 2010, 11:29 AM) View Post
Have you tried going into Webmaster Tools and using the Fetch as Googlebot tool on those URLs? I'd say this is highly unlikely -- if someone was going to hack your site they'd replace your content with something very different, like hundreds of links to porn and gambling sites, but it can't hurt to look.

Since this all happened (or at least was noticed) just two days ago, your best bet is probably to wait a few days and see if this fixes itself.


Good tip. I just logged in and checked my Google Wembaster Tools account and fetched each url as Googlebot and each page looks good using that tool.

Looks like I'll need to wait it out.

One aspect that I didn't mention in the first post was that our site had a few quick down times in the last week where our site was down for about 1 or 2 hours on some of our servers. So that might have tipped the bug to happen and Google might have gotten confused because they couldn't grab the content. I spoke with our IT team and there is now way that our website could have served up the wrong page content.




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