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Organic Listings Disappeared I Don't Know Why!


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9 replies to this topic

#1 ClickClick

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Posted 19 November 2014 - 06:13 PM

Brief history:

I am MD of a medium sized health organisation in the UK. We have one of the leading websites in the world for our industry. We were hit by a Google algorithm update last year (Penguin or Panda, I can't remember, but that's not relevant here I don't think) and our daily visits went down from around 10,000 to around 5,000 in two separate hits over a couple of months. Then there was a steady decrease to about 3,000-4,000 visits a day until we totally updated the design of the site and did some good work on the content. We have always been white-hat and the site has around 3,000 pages with unique content added daily.

So things have really been on the up for the past couple of months. We have been receiving around 6,000 visits a day in recent weeks (a slow incline over the past few months), until Sunday. Sunday morning around 10am all of our organic listings pretty much disappear, including for our brand name. Monday morning a few come back, including our brand name and our main, most competitive keyword, which we were showing up on the third page for and we returned to this page. Then Tuesday morning another few of our most competitive keywords show up, back where they were before. This includes images which had disappeared from Google images.

Our PPC and business listings were not really affected at all.

My developer submitted a site map through webmaster tools on Monday morning and I'm not sure if this is the reason pages started to show up again. In our Webmaster tools the indexed pages are about a quarter of all of the ones on the site - all pages were indexed before. I just don't know what has happened! It doesn't make any sense as 1. Google don't seem to have rolled out any algorithm updates on that day 2. we do not have any messages in Webmaster Tools 3. a number of our main keywords have re-appeared - why would that happen if we had been hit by a Google update?!

Our organic hits, which previously made up about 80% of all our hits, have gone down by 80% and this is drastically affecting business. If this continues it is likely we will have to downsize the business and I'm not sure what to do.

When I saw that the 'indexed pages' in Webmaster tools started to increase (they were around 600 on Monday, around 900 yesterday and then this morning, around 1,300), I thought that we were on our way up and maybe this problem would just resolve itself and our listings would re-appear, but now our indexed pages have reduced slightly since this morning, back down to around 1,100 so the increase has stalled.

Can anybody help?! Do you have any idea what could be causing this? Apparently there have been no changes made to robots.txt and my developer says that no changes were made that could have affected our listings.

ANY ADVICE WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED.



#2 Jill

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Posted 19 November 2014 - 06:43 PM

Double, triple and quadruple check what your webmaster or anyone else with access to the website may have done a week or two prior to this happening.

 

Chances are it's some sort of technical thing. #EducatedGuessing



#3 ClickClick

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Posted 19 November 2014 - 07:33 PM

Yes that's what I think, but they have told me they didn't do anything. We did add a cloud server so that the site was hosted on dual servers, but they have told me this wouldn't have affected anything. There has been a development - I have checked a number of pages which aren't indexed by Google with the Google Toolbar. Clicked on 'cached snapshot of page' and for the ones that are not indexed it says 'error 404'. I submitted those pages to Google via the 'submit URL' page and the pages got indexed instantly and showed up where they were showing up in the Google listings before (and they appeared correctly for 'cached snapshot')! But what am I supposed to do, go through all 3,000 pages and do this? I mean, I would actually take that measure but would that be flagged up by Google as spammy or suspicious?! Or is there another way of doing that for multiple (all) site pages?? I feel like this is a solvable problem but just don't quite know how to solve it!


Edited by ClickClick, 19 November 2014 - 07:34 PM.


#4 chrishirst

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Posted 20 November 2014 - 07:23 AM

 

We did add a cloud server so that the site was hosted on dual servers, but they have told me this wouldn't have affected anything

Seems they may have been somewhat economical with the truth.

 

Depending on how the 'cloud server' has been implemented it could mean that the changes to DNS  have not fully propagated.

 

 

Our organic hits, which previously made up about 80% of all our hits, have gone down by 80% and this is drastically affecting business. If this continues it is likely we will have to downsize the business and I'm not sure what to do.

You do what you should have been doing BEFORE this happened, get 'out there' and get traffic and conversions you CAN rely on or control. If search referrals are MORE than around 30 -40% of all traffic YOU ARE VULNERABLE to the vagaries of search engines  and your "business" is very likely to disappear overnight.

 

Search traffic should always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS be a bonus and merely supplemental to other traffic and conversions, NOT the other way around.



#5 ClickClick

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Posted 20 November 2014 - 08:37 AM

Good point Chrishirst. This is what I have realised since this has happened. Any views on whether it would be ok to submit multiple URLs to Google one after the other? Or whether there is an automated or large-scale way of doing this for around two to 3,000 URLs? As I said, as soon as I submit they are instantly restored to the listings.


This is the message I have received from my hosting company (Rackspace):

 

Hello

 

I’ve spoken with my Techs and we cannot see any way that the moving of the back-end would cause this, there was 0 down-time during the move.

I have created a request for the change logs for your server over this time frame.

 

I’m happy to speak about this but don’t expect to be able to help much, we firmly believe this is an application issue.

 

Kind regards,

A


Edited by ClickClick, 20 November 2014 - 08:38 AM.


#6 Jill

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Posted 20 November 2014 - 08:58 AM

Perhaps submitting an xml sitemap?



#7 ClickClick

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Posted 20 November 2014 - 09:45 AM

Already done that and for some reason it is only indexing less than 1/3 of the pages.



#8 chrishirst

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Posted 20 November 2014 - 05:52 PM

 

Any views on whether it would be ok to submit multiple URLs to Google one after the other?

You could submit thousands every day and it would make ZERO difference to getting the indexed.

 

 

Already done that and for some reason it is only indexing less than 1/3 of the pages.

So your 'site' simply isn't 'important' enough for Google to bother with.



#9 Jill

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Posted 20 November 2014 - 05:56 PM

So your 'site' simply isn't 'important' enough for Google to bother with.

 

 

 
That's just silly Chris. Obviously it was important enough before the techies screwed things up.
 
ClickClick, my guess is that either there are still problems with the set up they did for you, or it's just gonna take a few days for the previous problems to work themselves out. 
 
Most likely the former, however. Or at least I'd go with that and make those developers keep checking EVERYTHING.


#10 ClickClick

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Posted 21 November 2014 - 04:22 AM

I have taken on a great SEO who seems to have identified the problem. My developer, who developed our updated site which was put live in September, still had a lot of pages of the test site that were showing up in Google, so they were seen as duplicate content by Google. He was supposed to have removed those but some were left live. Those pages are being removed and the site map has been re-submitted.The pages indexed now seem to be slowly on the increase and analytics is starting to look better. Fingers crossed this will continue.

 

About submitting pages via Google submit URL tool - if I thought that was not something that will be flagged up as suspicious by Google I probably would have spent the last few days doing it - every page that I submit instantly gets restored to its previous position in Google, but still not sure that would be a safe approach and now that things seem to be improving I'm not sure if I will need to take a measure such as that.

 

Thanks for your help!






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