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Went from top 5 in Google to non-existent after updating site

Posted on 2006-11-10
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Last Modified: 2010-04-27
I wanted to change the look of my site, so I did, keeping the same keywords. Now I cant be found in Google.
I want to give points to someone who can help me get back where I was in the search results.

thanks,
Bruce Mutch
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Question by:bmutch
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17 Comments
 
LVL 33

Expert Comment

by:humeniuk
ID: 17919765
Can you tell us more about what kind of changes you made?  A link to the site would also be helpful.

There is a chance this is just temporary and that you will be back after the next update, but it is more likely that something you changed resulted in this.
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LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:ashishjvw
ID: 17919948
"I wanted to change the look of my site, so I did, keeping the same keywords."

What about the content , did you change that too.


Regards,
AHT

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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:HackneyCab
ID: 17922963
Did the URL for each page remain exactly the same? Changes to the address of a page will cause it to vanish from Google unless you use a 301 redirect to point from the old URL to the new URL.
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Author Comment

by:bmutch
ID: 17925525
The site is:
www.pragmaticprogramming.com

yes, I did change the page name, it is not
http://www.pragmaticprogramming.com/index.html
anymore, it is
http://www.pragmaticprogramming.com/vac/main.html

The content did change. I can post that later if necessary. It has been over 4 months since the change.

my essential keywords are: compare access databases
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LVL 33

Expert Comment

by:humeniuk
ID: 17927730
The tip of the iceberg:

1) As far as I can see, none of your pages are remotely optimized for 'compare access databases'.

2) Your home page (at www.pragmaticprogramming.com) has no content to speak of and no text links to your internal pages.  Internally, you use a javascript menu.  Search engines prefer to navigate from page to page via text links.  You have made it very difficult for them to crawl your site.

3)Externally, you have very few incoming links (one of the most important ranking factors) and the ones that you do have are of very modest quality.


My advice:

1) Take the time to learn the fundamentals of SEO (see www.seo-blog.com/tutorial.php).

2) Spend some time researching the most suitable and effective keywords for your website (as outlined in the tutorial linked above).

3) Reconsider your site redesign from scratch and come up with something that is high quality, search engine friendly, and contains a good amount of fresh, useful information.

4) Engage in an ongoing link building campaign to add links from high quality websites with related content to yours.
0
 

Author Comment

by:bmutch
ID: 17927988
the reason I went to using  javascript was so I could have a frames-like site w/o using frames because I heard frames were bad for search engines, so I decided to use div tags and absolute positioning.

I know the keywords I want to use, "compare access databases" was the one that I had where I was in the top 5, and am now gone.

The orignal site had the same number of links to it, and yet I was in the top 5 with it.

Yes, I agree the incoming links are of modest quality ( to be kind) if the one you are talking about are the (download software sites).

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LVL 33

Expert Comment

by:humeniuk
ID: 17928053
Frames are a disaster, so you are doing well to get away from them.  However, you are still using tables.  You would do well to get away from them and go with CSS positioning alone.  In addition to being a more effective means of design, it will be much easier to validate your code, which is important.

Javascript is a useful tool, but it remains problematic for the search engines and if your site relies on it for navigation, people who turn off javascript in their browsers (lots of people do) will have means of getting around your site.


"The orignal site had the same number of links to it, and yet I was in the top 5 with it."

I can't speculate as to the status and/or effectiveness of the previous site, because I haven't seen it.  However, the current site is a long ways away from being properly optimized (in general and in reference to your targeted keywords).
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:HackneyCab
ID: 17929147
bmutch, I think your immediate problem is that you've changed the URL of pages without telling Google how to find the new URL. That means those pages have just disappeared as far as Google is concerned.

One way to tell Google that a page's URL has changed is to send a 301 redirect code to visitors of the old page.

So, if you use Apache and have .htaccess files enabled, you could add this to the .htaccess file for your webspace root directory:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteRule ^index.html$ /vac/main.html [R=301,L]

I also recommend creating an XML sitemap for Google to parse, and update it regularly with new pages. A sitemap seems to help Google to find new pages more quickly.
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Author Comment

by:bmutch
ID: 17973668
I added the text and uploaded the .htaccess file.

I created a site map and added it.

btw: here is the contect of my "site page" on google's webmaster pages which looks to me like google has found my site already:


 Home page crawl:        
Googlebot last successfully accessed your home page on Nov 6, 2006.
Index status:       
Pages from your site are included in Google's index. See Index stats.    [?]
Web crawl errors
HTTP errors       
0
      --
Not found       
0
      Details »
URLs not followed       
0
      --
URLs restricted by robots.txt       
0
      --
URLs timed out       
0
      --
Unreachable URLs       
0
      --
0
 

Author Comment

by:bmutch
ID: 17973686
Also my site does pop up 3rd for "pragmatic programming" on google, so they do know about me, just not the keywords I want - compare access databases.

I do by the way have a few "quality" links pointing to me, one is http://www.scootersoftware.com/download.php?c=v2plugins

Also from the google webmaster pages:
does this line below mean that the /vac/main.html  page is not indexed because it doe not appear as an "indexed page" in the list?


 Samples of your pages in Google
Operator       Description       Result
site:       Indexed pages in your site       site:www.pragmaticprogramming.com
link:       Pages that link to your site       link:www.pragmaticprogramming.com
cache:       The current cache of your site       cache:www.pragmaticprogramming.com
info:       Information we have about your site       info:www.pragmaticprogramming.com
related:       Pages that are similar to your site       related:www.pragmaticprogramming.com


0
 

Author Comment

by:bmutch
ID: 17973702
Also, one of my pages is #18 of the results on MSN for compare access databases, unfortunately it is not the main page but:

www.pragmaticprogramming.com/vac/helpfile/Welcome.htm




0
 

Author Comment

by:bmutch
ID: 18021928
If anyone is still there, (my last post was on the 18th, and no answer), I did download Web CEO and did some research and tweaking on my site. One surprise is that Web CEO states that there is not much searching for my keywords or the related ones they suggest, I would think that there would be more people seedking DB manangement tools like mine.



bmutch



0
 

Author Comment

by:bmutch
ID: 18022081
my 2 most important unanswered questions are:

1.
Also from the google webmaster pages:
does this line below mean that the /vac/main.html  page is not indexed because it doe not appear as an "indexed page" in the list?
( and if it isn't what should I do to get it indexed?)

 Samples of your pages in Google
Operator      Description      Result
site:      Indexed pages in your site      site:www.pragmaticprogramming.com
link:      Pages that link to your site      link:www.pragmaticprogramming.com
cache:      The current cache of your site      cache:www.pragmaticprogramming.com
info:      Information we have about your site      info:www.pragmaticprogramming.com
related:      Pages that are similar to your site      related:www.pragmaticprogramming.com

2.
If a web search finds a page on your site: such as the msn search finding www.pragmaticprogramming.com/vac/helpfile/Welcome.htm, would it be a good idea and is is doable to somehow auto-redirect to the main page if a page is accessed from outside my web site, and how can you tell if it is accessed from outside my web site.

thanks,
bmutch


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LVL 33

Expert Comment

by:humeniuk
ID: 18022362
"does this line below mean that the /vac/main.html  page is not indexed because it doe not appear as an "indexed page" in the list? ( and if it isn't what should I do to get it indexed?)"
Correct, but it is currently listed and is indexed.

"would it be a good idea and is is doable to somehow auto-redirect to the main page if a page is accessed from outside my web site"
It's possible, but I can't think of a good reason why you would want to do that.  If someone goes directly to one of your internal pages, that is likely because the information they want is there.  Having a number of likely landing pages is good.  Redirecting them all to your home page would be negative, not positive.
0
 

Author Comment

by:bmutch
ID: 18025271
*Can you tell me what this means:
Correct, but it is currently listed and is indexed
How can you tell if it is listed and indexed?

*the page that is listed is one of the pages in the online help file. If they are searching for "compare access databases" and this page pops up, I really would rather them go directly to the main page.

thanks,
bmutch
0
 
LVL 33

Accepted Solution

by:
humeniuk earned 150 total points
ID: 18025296
"How can you tell if it is listed and indexed?"

www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3Awww.pragmaticprogramming.com&btnG=Google+Search


"If they are searching for "compare access databases" and this page pops up, I really would rather them go directly to the main page."

Redirecting visitors other somewhere other than a page they chose to click on isn't the way to do this.  What you should do is optimize each page for the most appropriate keywords.  If the home page is optimized for "compare access databases" and another page is not, you won't have to worry about that other page appearing more prominently in the search results.

At the moment, you don't have to worry about that anyway as none of your indexed pages appear in the top 100 for those keywords.  If you are set on those keywords, start optimizing your home page.  You have a lot of work to do to get a good placement on the search results pages.

However, I still think you should step back and consider the advice I posted above:

"My advice:

1) Take the time to learn the fundamentals of SEO (see www.seo-blog.com/tutorial.php).

2) Spend some time researching the most suitable and effective keywords for your website (as outlined in the tutorial linked above).

3) Reconsider your site redesign from scratch and come up with something that is high quality, search engine friendly, and contains a good amount of fresh, useful information.

4) Engage in an ongoing link building campaign to add links from high quality websites with related content to yours."
0
 

Author Comment

by:bmutch
ID: 18025407
I have picked my way through using Web CEO and made changes that will hopefully be reflected in increased visibility soon.
Thanks for the help.

humeniuk: you were by far the biggest responder, so I'll give you the points.

bmutch
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