16 February 2013

My website disappeared from Google Search


What happened. What I did. What resulted.

About a week back, my website disappeared from Google Search. The site used to rank very highly for my target keywords and phrases relating to marketing and communications consulting and writing in Bangalore. About a week back, the site just refused to come up for any of the keywords. It didn’t just drop in ranking or get relegated to 10th page -- it disappeared. Period.

Now, this was pretty disconcerting since I rely (a lot) on Google Search for getting visitors to my website for my consulting business. 


I let matters lie for a bit because this has happened to me before. About a year back, my site had similarly disappeared from Google but reappeared after a couple of days. So I presumed this was another one of those bugs that sometimes afflicts Google during their algorithm updates.

But when two days passed, I ran through a check list to diagnose the problem. Here’s my check list in case you need to do this sometime.

First, I checked Bing and Yahoo with my keywords and found that my website came up just fine in them. So the problem was confined to Google.

Next, I used the Google Site: command and confirmed that my site was still indexed. This most likely meant that I wasn’t being penalized by Google Search for violating their SEO guidelines.

The only way to make sure that the problem wasn’t caused by my actions was to check the health of my site in Google Webmaster Tools (if you own a site, make sure you register it with Webmaster). Here’s what I did there:

1. I checked for messages. If Google had penalized me for bad behavior, this is where they would have messaged me. No message.

2. I went to Webmaster Tools > Health > Crawl Stats to see if my site was being crawled by Googlebot, the Google spider. No problem.

3. But since Crawl Stats data was at least a day or more old, I went to Webmaster Tools > Health > Fetch to see if Googlebot could access my site at that instant. Again, no problem.

4. For what it was worth I then resubmitted my site to their index.

Having now confirmed that I wasn’t in violation of Google’s SEO guidelines, I submitted my site for reconsideration. This is normally to be done when Google flags some violation on your site and tells you that they have taken it off their index. You then correct the error and submit the site again for indexing. I hadn’t erred, but since there was no other way to communicate, I followed their rules and submitted my site for ‘reconsideration’.

I repeated Steps 1 to 4 every day for the next four days but my site stayed banished from Google Search.

Four days later, I got a mail from Google through Webmaster saying they hadn’t blocked my site through any ‘manual spam action’ from their side. They also gave me two long paragraphs on how search results can be impacted when they update their algorithms, how that affects page ranking, how my keywords may have become less effective, blah blah blah.

This morning, without explanation, and a week after my site disappeared from Google Search, everything is back to normal. My site comes up at the old positions for all my keywords.

So why did my site drop from Google Search and why did it reappear? Software bug? Algorithm update? Who knows? The 800 pound gorilla didn't bother to answer. But since Google has 67% share of the search engine market, you really don’t have an option other than to play by their rules. Hopefully, a company that has ‘Don’t be evil’ as part of its code of conduct will use its power fairly.



© 2013 Vijay Menon

27 comments:

  1. Thanks for the insightful checklist of steps to verify if you have been penalized. A few of my sites were hit June 5th and dropped dramatically. My site www.mybestairpurifier.com dropped from #5 went to #10 back to #6 and then dropped completely for my top search term all in a matter of 2 days. It's like it was bouncing like a pogo stick! I'll give it a few days and see what happens but I hope it comes back!

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  2. Today, my website disappeared on google with one of my keywords. It is not banned. Must be a glitch.

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  3. thanks for the information and reconsideration process...my site also disappeared from the search and I need to check for any violations....

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  4. One of my customer's websites www.modernhealthsystems.com disappeared for their main keyword "drug testing", but still appears for similar words like "drug testing services". No messages in Webmaster Tools. The keyword is used quite a bit but not stuffed. That's just what the site is about. Seems that a few people have been experiencing this problem in early June 2013. Waiting and hoping!

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  5. This seems to be a problem that has surfaced in the last few months. For the main keywords my site uses, my web site has gone from search results. For other more targeted keywords, it is still near top of page 1. I have tried very hard to get Google itself to respond, but they hide behind their algorithms very well. I also went through the same checks as you and could also find nothing. In fact I hadn't changed my web site at the time so didn't expect any issues. So I'm disappointed that the latest Google algorithm is pushing down web sites that have held high position for years in favor of newcomers. Web sites that now appear at the top of my best keywords have only been around a relatively short time. I don't know how this improves the User experience, because the newcomers have nowhere near the detail of relevant information. But I have learnt after a lot of effort that Google answers to no-one - even if it looks like a mistake was made in the latest algorithm. Too many people are reporting similar experiences lately. The question is - how does one get the message across to Google and acted on?

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  6. My site was ranked #1 for the main keyword ever since I launched the site on February 4th of this year. All of the sudden I am on page 16 and getting worse over the past couple of weeks. No indication as to why.

    I did notice that I rank for a post I made in Google+ that had a link to my website. It's almost like they gave my google+ post authority over my actual site. Really weird.

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  7. hi my site dropped position in serp pages. my all posts comes in 10th to 20th pages in serp . how can i resolve my issue .pls check my site replay me

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  8. Same happened with my website www(.)andro-park(.)org, its still index in google but all the post lost its ranking, only showing up when I type the post name along with my domain name.

    So want to know if the same happend with you also ? And after how many days your site started showing in google ?

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  9. The same has happened to a few of my sites.I was getting a decent income,not mega but enough,but without warning BANG!I'm not bowing down to google any more,they are a company that is to be blunt full of s---t,thinking they are above the law on everything.Just remember what goes around comes around,and a day will come,maybe not for a few years but it will come where that bunch of arrogant idiots get theirs.Ruining peoples businesses,and lives.Most of the crap they put to the top of the search results now are utter rubbish.So called authority sites that are crammed with google adsense and tons and tons of links all leading to rubbish.Google can shove it Im on bing and yahoo and now thank goodness making more than i was on whats there name again...And i couldnt care less which one of the drones that pretend to be supermarketers,and play by the rulers with nice seo and unique content idiots responds to this..I provide genuine good quality websites but just dont kiss ass just to get a couple of extra people clicking through my site because i am such a goody marketer..This may sound a bit of a rant but if any of you idiots want to respond i will give you my details and i will meet up with you face to face and tell you the same thing...and more..

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  10. Hello Vijay, very useful post as exactly the same has happened to my 3 year old site. Suddenly disappeared from Google search. I have also waited thinking it may be a glitch, but after 10 days I am now really worried.

    You say: 'since there was no other way to communicate, I followed their rules and submitted my site for ‘reconsideration’
    I would also like to do that however cannot find any way to submit and request reconsideration. I have Google webmaster tools but can't find a link or dialog box where I can ask for this or submit my site to them.
    I would be very grateful for any assistance or advice. Thanks in advance, Martin

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    Replies
    1. Hi Martin, the word 'reconsideration' in my post links to the relevant URL. In any case, here it is again: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/reconsideration.

      All the best!

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    2. Hi Vijay,
      Very nice article. Actually i am facing same problem. I am trying to rectify this problem with this link https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/reconsideration. But it shows "No manual webspam actions found." What to do. Please advise me

      Delete
  11. Hello Vijay, great info. While I have several sites and site pages one of my best positioned ones, http://www.vrbo.com/3178, disappeared completely from Google search "Panama City Beach 2 Bedroom Condo Rentals By Owner" in June of this year. It had a first to second page position for 4 years and was the source for much of my business. Its position was much text motivated. While still in other searches it totally disappeared from the fore mentioned. Thanks for letting me know that the world has not gone flat

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  12. Hello Vijay, very useful information: we have lost the Austrian side of our site www.schwertschmied.at, which has been ranked at number 1 or 2 on Google search for "swordsmith" for 10 years, and has suddenly vanished from listings completely, a drop in rank could be understandable but the website has sunk without trace ! I am hoping as with the other comments above that this will resolve itself but in the meantime it is a severe blow for the business, it is I suppose though re-assuring to know it isn't just us !

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  13. A site I look after has just done exactly the same. Over the last month it has been moving up the rankings steadily on its keywords with Page 1 rankings doing well and a lot more on page 2 and page 3, then all of a sudden last Friday every keyword dropped out of the Google rankings totally??? Ive checked Webmaster, the site, new links, everything I could think of and nothing?? Its weird and the fact that you cant contact Google for a simple answer is very frustrating! Any advice any1?

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  14. Thanks for the tips on steps to take. My 2 year old site that has always ranked well for various keywords, suddenly seems to have disappeared for those keywords. Still in index, no crawl errors, no good reason that I can think of. But frustrating as like you its a business page, an ecommerce site that used to rank well for product keyword. What is so weird is that it has not just dropped, but totally gone.

    Out of interest, when your site did return, was it at same position, or had it moved up or down at all?

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading, Clare. To answer your question, my site returned at much the same ranking when it resurfaced. Thankfully!

      Delete
  15. It is a very well explained write up. Right now I am having the same problem and with the help of this article have gone though all the steps and hopefully my website will recover as well. Thank you

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  16. Having the same problem! The other day my site all of a sudden appeared on page 3 after months of being off and few days ago it has disappeared. Saw no problem when I check webmaster tool. Don't know what is happening! http://www.medicinalherbs-4u.com. Its very frustrating indeed!

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  17. This has happened to my also, my website http://www.taosystem.org was number one in google back in march 2013 for 1 particular keyword and now my website can't be found anywhere in gogole under that keyword. I have followed the Google guidelines correctly and it has been a complete shock as to why this has happened suddenly.

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  18. Thanks Vijay. My site has gone from page 1 for the keyword of serrapeptase to nowhere of late. It is still indexed and I have had no warnings in webmaster tools. Think I might just be a victim of the new algorithm.......

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  19. same thing happened with my domain name : http://www.carremovalauckland.net.nz/ hoping to get it back on the track soon.

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  20. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  21. My site PMP Exam Lessons Learned also disappeard today. I followed your steps. Can only wait a few days to see if things improve ...

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