Thursday, October 25, 2007

Q and A: Has my domain glitch caused permanent de-ranking in Google?

Dear Kalena...

I let my domain www.visaplace.com expire, but I re-registered it within 24 hours. The site went black in the interim and it took about a 1/2 day to be repopulated online. However about a week to two weeks later I noticed that Google dropped my rankings for virtually all of my key words. I am totally invisible online now whereas I was well ranked before. I was told by my SEO person not to worry because once Google spiders my site again a few times I will get back up to my original positions.

My SEO person looked at my site and said nothing has changed and I was not blacklisted or anything. He said I should be back up within days to a few weeks. My question is: Is explanation credible? Is there another possible reason why I am de-ranked? I am really concerned.

Thanks so much
Michael

Kalena's Answer:

Dear Michael

Your SEO is right. What's probably happened is that Googlebot tried to index your site during the time the site was down and so dropped some/all of your previously cached pages. This can happen from time to time, especially with hosting outages etc. Obviously, if those pages were previously ranking well for certain search queries, but the pages have temporarily disappeared from Google's data store, those rankings will disappear too.

I see now that Google last cached your page on October 19 so all seems to be well again. I'm not sure how many pages were indexed before the domain problem, but Google shows 79 pages currently indexed.

To check if any site is listed in Google, you can use their Site Status Tool. If your SEO is worth his salt, he will have created a Google Webmaster Tools account for your site and uploaded an XML sitemap to Google Sitemaps on your behalf. This will tell Google how many pages your site has and what the URLs are so Googlebot can index it accurately. If you think Google has dropped some pages, be sure to have your SEO update the XML file and ping Google from within Webmaster Tools when it's uploaded.

If you want to keep close tabs on how/when Google indexes your site, ask your SEO to provide login access to your Webmaster Tools account or set one up for yourself.

Need more than advice? Take a Search Engine Marketing course online

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Q and A: Why has our Google PageRank dropped to zero?

Dear Kalena...

Can you please help us? I just came across your site and you seem very knowledgeable.

Our problem is Google! Our site has been active for a few years now at www.theforeverrose.com We were once #1 for the search "the forever rose" (and ranked well for a few others as well). But we have been gradually slipping, now we are in position 90 for "the forever rose" and off the charts for others?

Our PageRank was once a three and gradually dropped to now 0. We cannot figure out why and things keep getting worse. We strictly follow all of Google's rules and ethics, we rank fine in Yahoo and MSN. I am tired of hearing the obvious; more links, more pages, better content, SEO.... etc, we have been doing that. I feel like we are just missing something really simple, something right in front of our eyes, something that is penalizing us!

Can you please help? Any of your help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You,
Mike


Kalena's Answer:

Dear Mike

A quick check of your site with the Google Site Status tool shows that pages from your site are included in the index, but that Google may not know about all your site pages. The site was last indexed by Googlebot on 25 April and you have one backward link displayed by Google but 81 backlinks shown on Yahoo.

Your home page has a Google Toolbar PageRank of zero and some pages have greyed out PageRank and no cache, suggesting they haven't been indexed. Curiously, Google is showing 46 pages from your site in their index, while Yahoo is only showing 25 pages indexed. The fact that the site has already aged and used to have a much higher PageRank may suggest a penalty of some kind.

But there could be a few explanations for your poor PageRank and lack of rankings:

1) You are using a black page background but you then have a table on it with a white background and black text. Some search engines will see this as black text on a black background. It's possible that this may be tripping spam filters.

2) Your site is built using old technology and contains a lot of code bloat. Tables are clunky and difficult for search spiders to index and Googlebot may have tripped up on your code and not indexed all your pages.

3) Your home page contains keyword repetition for the words "rose" and "roses". I don't think the repetition is excessive, but it may have triggered some type of suppression filter in Google.

4) Your site has poor link popularity and the sites that link to you tend to have a very low quality score and no PageRank e.g. cufflinksdepot.com/dir-gifts.htm and escapesportif.com/resources/gifts.html. You don't have enough incoming links pointing to your site from what Google calls "trusted sites" - popular directories, portals and authoritative sites in your industry. Your internal links could also use some work from an anchor text angle.

5) Most of your site pages might be stuck in Google's supplemental index, colloquially (but unfairly) known as Google Hell. Google's Matt Cutts explains why some sites have the bulk of the pages moved to the supplemental results:

"If you used to have pages in our main web index and now they’re in the supplemental results, a good hypothesis is that we might not be counting links to your pages with the same weight as we have in the past. The approach I’d recommend in that case is to use solid white-hat SEO to get high-quality links (e.g. editorially given by other sites on the basis of merit)."

Here's what you should do to address the problems:

1) For better indexing, consider upgrading the site design away from tables to clean HTML and use CSS for formatting. Until you do that, change the background of all pages to white to avoid any potential hidden text penalties from your table layout.

2) Run your site through a text-editor such as Lynx to see what search engines see when they index your site. Verify your site with Google Webmaster Tools and check the diagnostics for potential indexing problems.

3) Optimize your site from scratch. You should make sure your site is search engine compatible and optimized for a wider range of target search keywords and phrases rather than the obvious ones.

4) Create and upload an XML sitemap to Google Sitemaps or use the new Sitemaps Protocol in your robots.txt file to tell search engines where to find your XML sitemap. I like to use the free XML Sitemaps Generator to create my sitemaps.

5) Commence a link building campaign pronto. This campaign should include submitting your site to all the major and minor directories and search engines where the site doesn't currently feature, as well as niche directories and portal sites in your specific industry. Where possible, anchor text incorporating your target keywords should be used within the links. My consulting company can take care of link building for you if you like.


Once changes to your site code have been made and you have achieved some good quality links, most of your problems should disappear. If the problems persist, file a re-inclusion request with Google, explaining what might have triggered penalties and what changes you've made to address the issues. Although technically your site hasn't been excluded from the Google index, this should prompt a review of your site by Google's anti-spam team and hopefully result in any suppression penalties being lifted.

Good luck and let us know how you get on!

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Q and A: Why has our site suddenly dropped out of Google?

Dear Kalena...

Hi there, I have done a lot of work optimizing my wife's web site and succeeded in getting the site to number one on Google, Yahoo and MSN for the search term - "childminder milton keynes" - It took me 3 months to do it and her business has boomed. She is now completely booked up. I do regular checks to ensure the site is still no 1 for the search term and on Yahoo and MSN the site is still at number 1, however, on Google the site isn't even listed in the first 15 pages whereas 2 weeks ago it was indeed listed number 1. I am completely baffled, can you help please.

Thank you very much.
Mark

Kalena's Answer:

Hi Mark

First up, thanks for the caffeine contribution, it really helps! Now, about that site.

I've run the site through Google's Site Status Tool and according to the results, it is still being indexed, with the last visit by Googlebot on 14 January. However: the current Google cache of the site is completely blank and the Google Toolbar PageRank for the site is zero out of 10. Both these things indicate a major problem.

Now, I know the site is over a year old and that you last made changes over a month ago, so my guess is that rather than the aging delay, an algorithm penalty or other such manual suppression, Googlebot encountered problems when indexing the site last, which resulted in zero pages being indexed and stored. Naturally, the site has dropped off the charts because there is zero information stored in Google's datacenter as a result of the indexing and caching issue.

However, I'm not surprised Googlebot had trouble indexing the site. It breaks all the rules for search engine compatibility by using outdated Frames technology. Honestly! Frames are sooooo 1996. Search engines have always had trouble indexing frames-based sites and haven't gotten much better at it over the years. Search engine spiders generally only see the master frame-set (the page pulling all the frames together), not the individual frames. Consequently, there is no content for the search engine to index, apart from the content of the NoFrames element.

Because search engine spiders index sites by following links and because there are usually no links within the frame-set HTML code, search engines are usually unable to index frames-based sites beyond the home page. If you insist on using such dated design technology, you absolutely need to give the search engines a juicy No Frames tag to suck on. Yours currently states:
"Sorry, the Little Steppers website is only veiwable (sic) through a frame compatible browser. Please upgrade to a frame compatible browser."
What does that tell a search engine about your business? Zero, zilch, zip. The only reason your site was ranking on Google for "childminder milton keynes", was because you used that phrase within your Title Tag.

Ideally, a short keyword-filled description of the site should be included in the NoFrames element, as well as a link to the site map or main links page, which acts like a signpost for search engines so they know where to find and index further site content. Danny Sullivan wrote a terrific tutorial about how to optimize frames-based sites. Make sure you read it. But if you are really serious about optimizing your wife's site for search engines, you'll update the technology to a design that is search engine friendly.

To fix your immediate problem, here's what I suggest:
  • Verify your site with Google's Webmaster Tools, check for site errors and study Googlebot's indexing patterns.

  • Create and upload an XML sitemap to Google Sitemaps and study the results via Webmaster Tools. See the free sitemap creator that I recommend.

  • Use Danny's tutorial to reestablish the Frames Context for each page on your site so search engines can jump from one page to the next when indexing.

  • Give Frames the flick!
Oh and one last thing, you are using keyword-stuffed ALT IMG tags on your home page. That is a real Google no no. Better nip that in the bud before you DO get penalized.

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Q and A: Have we been penalised by Google?

Dear Kalena...

Hi, what a useful website you have.

Our site has dropped from the first page of results in google to page 5 and upwards, resulting in thousands of pounds worth of business lost per month. Have we been penalised for something?

Wayne


Kalena's Answer:

Dear Wayne

Thanks for the backslap! I've taken a look at the site and checked it using Google's Site Status Tool. I don't see a penalty of any kind. Why? Because:

1) You've got a healthy Google Toolbar rating of 5 out of 10.

2) Over 4000 pages from your site have been indexed by Googlebot.

3) Googlebot last indexed your page on 1st December.

When you say your site has dropped to page five of search results - is that for a particular search term? Or for all of your major search terms? If it is only for a single search phrase, that is a fairly common occurence as Google changes their algorithm and adds more and more new sites.

Your site is in the highly competitive adult industry, where search rankings change much more often than in other industries. You simply have to optimize the site for a wider range of keywords and phrases (the long tail).

If you are seeing your site drop consistently for ALL your major search terms, then that may indicate the site has been sandboxed. Have you done a major design overall or content change recently? Sometimes this can trigger a site to be placed in the sandbox.

My advice is to keep optimizing, build quality links and start concentrating on your exposure on other search engines so you don't sweat Google's algorithm changes.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Q and A: Has our site been penalized by Google?

Dear Kalena...

An excellent website! have found many useful articles in the "ask kalena" section.

I was curious as to whether our website www.simondelasalle.com has been penalized for some reason. We have recently changed our navigation from image based to text links to increase the amount of keywords on the page. Is it possible this website has been "sandboxed"?

It looks like Google's indexing of the site is weak compared to MSN. Any feedback you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your time and have an excellent day.

Simon

Kalena's Answer:

Dear Simon

Thank you for the coffee! The caffeine is greatly appreciated.

I've had a look at your site and the first thing that strikes me is that there is no Google cache for many of the pages. Your home page has a healthy Toolbar PageRank of 5 out of 10 so there is no penalty. Next, I entered your URL into Google's new Site Status Tool. Bingo! I found two problems:

1) Googlebot last successfully accessed your home page on Jul 29, 2006 (which explains the caching issue).

2) Google does not know about all the pages of your site.

I'm not sure when your major re-design occurred, but if it was around the end of July, then it's highly likely the site has since been sandboxed, as you guessed. Best course of action is to prepare and submit an XML sitemap to Google Sitemaps using a free XML sitemap creator and wait till Googlebot travels your way again. After verifying your site with Google, you can check if Googlebot struck errors during his last crawl.

Good Luck!

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Q and A: Has my site been dropped by Google?

Dear Kalena...

My site was in the top 5 on google for about 8 different keywords. Two days ago we a uploaded a new sitemap following changes in the site. This site map had errors as pointed out by Google. The errors were then corrected. But now I find that the site does not figure anywhere in the results and if it does, it is on historical data, not from present crawl. Is this a temporary problem because of the erroneous sitemap or has my site been dropped? My account with google sitemaps still shows that over 1500 pages are indexed. My site is www.allindianewspapers.com

Thanks a million

Oliver

Kalena's Answer:

Dear Oliver

I wouldn't worry too much. According to Google's Site Status Wizard, pages from your site are indexed by Google but Google does not yet know about all your site pages. Googlebot last crawled your site on November 1.

The site may have been indexed incorrectly via that problem site map, but provided your HTML code contains links to all your pages and your site map is now up to date, Googlebot should gather all your pages on his next crawl.

You might want to think about dumping that pop-up ad though. Google has taken a stance against home page pop-ups in the past.

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