Google Slap and Back In Less Than A Week

I was checking my stats late one night when my eyes beheld a heart stopping sight – google had stopped sending any traffic and the PR for most of the popular pages had dropped from PR4 down to PR0 and were missing from the SERPs – eek!

Because the site has been online since before the millennium we’ve seen some dramatic spikes and depressing slaps before but we’ve never experienced PR0 pages and NO traffic at all so something was clearly wrong.

My first instinct is always to do nothing but after asking a few affiliate chums if I had missed anything obvious the consensus was it was most likely we had tripped an automatic penalty or perhaps a manual penalty – eek2! I had a look around for news about Google algorithm changes and nothing set any alarm bells ringing – the site hadn’t changed before/after the slap so I feared the worst.

Apparently a manual Google penalty will be displayed in your Google Webmaster tools account so I nervously logged in and was relieved to see I had not upset the google traffic gods so WTF was the problem?

I took a good look around GWT and the only thing flagged up was errors in the sitemap.xml file. I manually created and update that file so I knew I hadn’t made any recent changes and that left me puzzled how that could suddenly cause errors. I re-uploaded my local copy, validated it then resubmitted it to Google and within 24 hours most of the pages were showing up in the SERPs and the PR had returned – phew!

We’re still well down on traffic but I’m sure that will improve as we add new content which will get crawled.

I was surprised that fixed the problem but it does leave me wondering whether to remove the sitemap.xml file altogether and let google make its own way around the site – or maybe it was just a google blip, either way it was a bad day SEO day in Joe World!




2 Replies to “Google Slap and Back In Less Than A Week”

  1. just seen this – scary sh*t – sending shivers down my spine – remembering the cruel Google dance … going to have to lie down now

  2. Google sitemaps alerted me to a serious problem recently. I had a site drop from about 5k daily U/Vs to about 1k (direct), I only noticed it about 3 weeks too late – ooops!

    So I also started digging and noted that Google had rejected my sitemap as unreadable. Strange I thought. I checked permissions etc and there were no problems, I could see it fine.

    So then I asked my host, are they blocking any Google IPs, some nasty MOD_SECURITY rule, but they couldnt find anything. I was close to moving the site to a second host that I use but something one of the support guys said triggered the answer. He has asked for a login to my CMS so he chould check some things out. I refused as I couldnt see how it could help but I kept thinking about it, wondering if there was a legitimate reason. And then I noticed it.

    The site flood protection had been triggered and Google’s IP(s) has been banned by the CMS. Webmaster tools also listed 10,000 URLs as unreachable! Thankfully my search traffic is now climbing back again as more pages are relisted. Kinda ruined the April numbers though for that site!


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