Last week the Webmaster World Forum was abuzz with complaints from many people who noticed a sudden drop in their Google rankings, loss in traffic and revenue.
However, it only took Google’s Matt Cutts 24 hours to clear-up any confusion.
What was initially thought to be a result of a penalty for over-optimization of sites, actually turned out to be the after affects of a Google classifier for parked domains (domains that generally lack any content other than ads) .
As posted by Matt Cutts on his Google+ page:
I saw a recent post where several sites were asking about their search rankings. The short explanation is that it turns out that our classifier for parked domains was reading from a couple files which mistakenly were empty. As a result, we classified some sites as parked when they weren’t.
I apologize for this; it looks like the issue is fixed now, and we’ll look into how to prevent this from happening again.
However, some webmasters remain unconvinced that this sudden drop in rankings happened just because of a bug. One theory is that this was a planned test of the over optimization penalty by Google and the bug in the classifier just happened to happen around the same time.
The reason behind this speculations is that had it just been a bug many of the sites affected should have regained their original rankings by now, however that is not the case. Also the classifier bug problem is not a new one – this same thing happened back in June 2010 and however only a small number of sites were affected.
So, I’m not sure if there is more to this story, Google certainly doesnt seem to think so, but if you’re site has been impacted we would love to hear your experience. Feel free to leave details in the comments box below.