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Monday, November 22, 2010

Did Google’s Indexing Issue Hide a Secret Ranking Update?

Posted by @ 8:00 pm

Almost a month ago we wrote about a major Google indexing issue that prevented thousands of new pages from being included in Google search results. Mostly impacting blogs, the Google bug prevented new content from being indexed across a whole range of sites including our own blog and major sites like

Shortly after reporting the issue, a Google representative stepped in and confirmed they were experiencing a problem. On October 25, Google reported that the issue had been fixed, stating that content from the 19th-24th October would be reindexed again shortly.

However one month later, we are still seeing reports of missing pages and lost rankings in the comments section of our original post. Some of the comments we received include,

November 10, 2010 and still way below normal in exposure. I wish Google was responsible enough to actually correct the problems they cause.

As a result of these issues I too noticed a drop in page’s. Most of our lower ranked pages completely disappeared from the face of Google while our strongest page (home page) dropped to a second page listing for certain search results. It has seemed to have gotten better but still seeing some mixed results compared to usual.

I think is not fully fixed as yet, because it’s happening to me too and as I read through all the post on webmaster sites, there are many people still complaining of index lost.

After further investigation of the issue there is a possibility that Google made a tweak to their ranking algorithms around this time. According to a blog post on Alexa, sometime around October 21st, they noticed a change in traffic for a number of websites. A quote and screenshot from the post can be seen below:

There were some indexing issues that happened prior to the change that caused some sites to report problems as early as the 19th, but according to our data the change to Google’s search results went live on October 21st around 3PM Mountain View time.

There’s also a 14 page discussion on Webmaster World with a number of other users also seeing changes in their rankings and Google traffic. There have been discussions around the impact on long tail keywords, but it’s tough to confirm the exact nature of this update.

If you’ve experienced a ranking of traffic drop around this time, let us know how it has impacted your website below.

Matthew Elshaw Matt is a marketing professional at, an international search marketing firm. Matt's passion for online marketing began at university and has proved invaluable in steering product development and marketing initiatives at the company. Matt is a regular contributor to the ineedhits search marketing blog.

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Discussion (8 - comments)

[...] ineedhits [...]

By Did Google’s Indexing Issue Hide a Secret Ranking Update? - November 22, 2010

I have one of those “subsites”, and my google analytics still shows a substantial decrease in traffic. I can’t help but wonder why it only affected those with only PayPal or only Google Check Out. Are they trying to force multiple payment options on everyone, and where is the benefit unless they are buying the Ebay/PayPal money machine. I think Ebay with PayPal is only worth around 28 Billion, and Google has around 30 billion in cash, so maybe they will buy out Ebay and not have to touch any of the other money to get it. Toss in a couple of extra billion to smooth things over when they fire the current Ebay staff and replace it with competent people who can read and write.

Either way, Google needs to “step up” and behave decently. You broke it, you have an obligation to fix it.. without complaint, backpeddling or whining.

By roger - November 23, 2010

We lost fully ⅔ of our indexed pages, dropped form over 20,000 to around 5000. Haven’t seemed to loose ranking placement on pages that remain in Google’s index.

By David Josephson - November 24, 2010

We have some sites that were in the 14 – 20 spots on the 2nd page that have gone past page 10. Sites had been up for 3-4 months and were slowing moving up with some work. This explains it!

By Johnny Mulder - November 30, 2010

My website is one of those that experienced massive decline in traffic around that same period. However, the ranking of some of my lading pages remained steady!

By Mabusa Sebobane - December 11, 2010

I’m always down for extra hits….

By shaunb - December 11, 2010

I typically had from eighteen to twenty-three thousand pages indexed, with my Google listings dropping overnight in JULY to about thirty-five hundred, some of my top ranked pages disappearing for months, then reappearing not long ago. Curiously, over Thanksgiving weekend, 27 November, I had 19100 pages showing for about 24 hours (took a screen shot), the number dropping back to about 4400 after. But again, my problem began in JULY.

My thought was that it might be a form of censorship involving certain types of news, my pages containing strictly reportage. Does anyone else having this issue have ‘political content’ on their pages?

By Ritt - December 12, 2010

My site’s indexed pages were not dropped but I noticed few strange things in the period said above:
1) My top keyword remained at it’s place.
2) My long tail keywords SERPs fallen.
3) Steep drop in alexa rank of mine and my competitors too.
4) Page rank drop of at least 3 sites I know (having 302 Found issues) to 0. Feeling bad for 6PR to 0. At present it has risen to 1.

People I need help in removing 302 found from my website. please suggest some write-ups in this regard


By Anshal - December 15, 2010

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