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Google's Mysterious Probation Period





scotty
My website used to be ranked number one when you searched for “Scotty’s Articles” on Google. It stayed there for about a month and now it is totally gone off their index! I haven’t dropped down the rankings, I’m simply not listed.

Has anybody else experienced this and what can be done to fix it?
badai
a lot of people experienced that. some stupid small companies even sued google for that. like it's their birth's right to be listed on Google.
manumiglani
scotty wrote:
My website used to be ranked number one when you searched for “Scotty’s Articles” on Google. It stayed there for about a month and now it is totally gone off their index! I haven’t dropped down the rankings, I’m simply not listed.

Has anybody else experienced this and what can be done to fix it?


For how much time are you experiencing this change????
scotty
Still not on the listing after coming off it about 2 weeks ago :S

It's very frustrating, I want to be on Google. I know I don't have a right to be on Google or anything like that but I find that if Google doesn't list my page it isn't a good search engine. It's pretty poor to tell you the truth, no matter how much SPAM they think they get or have to deal with, they have 9 billion pages and mine is better than at least 3 billion of them it should be listed. Razz
awesty
to see if your site is one google type

site:yoursite.com

and it will so all the pages from that site they have indexed.
SoftStag
You need to be patient. Google knows about you, it found your site and listd it. So long as you haven't been banned for using trickery to try to get high rankings, then don't worry. If you have Google toolbar you can check if you have been banned as when you hover over the PR meter instead of it saying your PR is 0/10 or whatever it will say there is no information for this page.

Google likes new content, that's probably why your page initially appeared high in the rankings, if you change your site on a weekly, or daily basis, then it is more likely to return to the higher rankings. After a while a page that hasn't changed, but has a lot of links will become seen as important and rise to the top. If your site is going to be static, then it may take a while, bear with it and use the time to build up backlinks.
manumiglani
Well Scotty's site is not banned........ It has one url indexed in google ( http://www.google.co.in/search?q=site%3Ascott.frih.net ) ....... may be just create a sitemap and submit to Google sitemaps.
scotty
Thanks for your replies guys, I came back on to the index for a day or so and now I have disappeared again.

Google wrote:
Your search - site:scott.frih.net - did not match any documents.


I will upload a new site-map and see if that helps, I've had one since the beginning though.

Update:

I have now put a "robots.txt" file in the root directory and then I went to google sitemaps to check what it said there.

This is what I saw:



So now I've uploaded a new sitemap which I made using http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/. I don't know if they are any good but I don't know of any others or indeed what a sitemap actually does. Does the sitemap need to include every single page on my website?

Anyway I shall post with an update when something happens!
manumiglani
Quote:
So now I've uploaded a new sitemap which I made using http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/. I don't know if they are any good but I don't know of any others or indeed what a sitemap actually does. Does the sitemap need to include every single page on my website?

Anyway I shall post with an update when something happens!


You can make a xml sitemap from www.xml-sitemaps.com and upload it. Sitemap actually helps google find every page on your website. Sitemap is basically a page where you have a link of every page of the website so that google can find them easily.
scotty
I used www.xml-sitemaps.com to generate a sitemap and then I uploaded it using SmartFTP.

But why can this website make a sitemap and Google can't?
manumiglani
scotty wrote:
I used www.xml-sitemaps.com to generate a sitemap and then I uploaded it using SmartFTP.

But why can this website make a sitemap and Google can't?


I don't think google is interested to create sitemaps for millions of websites in its database.
littlegiant
Looks like you got sandboxed, Scotty. If you're site is not very old then what you describe is exactly the scenario that all new sites must go through before getting regularly indexed by Google. Do a search in Google (how ironic, yes) for "sandbox effect" and read a few of the articles. I'm pretty sure this is what happened to your site. The only solution is to keep plugging away adding new content to your site, make sure you don't use any black hat SEO and just wait it out.
scotty
littlegiant wrote:
Looks like you got sandboxed, Scotty. If you're site is not very old then what you describe is exactly the scenario that all new sites must go through before getting regularly indexed by Google. Do a search in Google (how ironic, yes) for "sandbox effect" and read a few of the articles. I'm pretty sure this is what happened to your site. The only solution is to keep plugging away adding new content to your site, make sure you don't use any black hat SEO and just wait it out.


I've heard vague reports of this. Sounds like what has happened to my site. I'll have a read up.

I just bought a domain, I don't know if that will help?

What is black hat SEO?
littlegiant
Black Hat SEO is Search Engine Optimization techniques which artificially elevate your ranking in Search Engine Results Pages (a.k.a. SERPs). Somebody else just recently posted a thread listing many common Black Hat SEO tactics (although not entirely accurate). Check this thread.

As for your newly bought domain, no that won't help because it will -I'm presuming- be even newer than your FriHost subdomain so it will have to go through the same process with Google of being sandboxed for a certain period of time.

However, just as a matter of optimizing your site to make it more appealing to humans (as opposed to search engines) I would go with your domain name because then you can conceal the fact that you're using a free web host (which will make your web presence look more serious).
scotty
What a battle to get on the list... I don't want to be number one, I just want to be on it.

My domain was registered today so yes it is newer than the Frihost one.

What is your opinion on links between sites? If Google gets any sense of a "link exchange" will it be "sandboxed"?

What advice would you give me with the new domain? Just put the old site there instead?
littlegiant
Actually, on second thought, this seems a little more extreme than the typical sandbox effect.

A similar thing happened to me a couple of years ago with a Geocities site I started about a video game. Initially, it was listed in Google and even ranked reasonably well for some keywords and then it was completely dropped altogether which led me to believe that Google had stopped indexing Geocities sites (which was later proven to be incorrect). Nevertheless, I now firmly believe that it may be harder to break into Google (and stay indexed) using a free web host subdomain.

Case in point: Doing a search for my subdomain ironspider.frihost.net comes up with no results in Google while doing a search for robdarrell.com (a domain I have hosted at Frihost) shows a listing. Both sites have virtually nothing on them. So yeah, seeing as how you've been delisted for -what is it now? over a week?- it may be time to consider moving your site to your 'real' domain name.
scotty
Yeah, I've been off the list for a couple of weeks now. Once the domain has resolved (I'm new to domains, hope that is the right word) I'll load up the site and see how it goes.

What I don't understand is when I search "site:frih.net" I get 44,700 results. Why not mine? It's not like the domain frih.net has been blacklisted or something. Anyway I hope the new domain helps, I'll report back. Thanks.
SoftStag
littlegiant wrote:
Actually, on second thought, this seems a little more extreme than the typical sandbox effect.

A similar thing happened to me a couple of years ago with a Geocities site I started about a video game. Initially, it was listed in Google and even ranked reasonably well for some keywords and then it was completely dropped altogether which led me to believe that Google had stopped indexing Geocities sites (which was later proven to be incorrect). Nevertheless, I now firmly believe that it may be harder to break into Google (and stay indexed) using a free web host subdomain.

Case in point: Doing a search for my subdomain ironspider.frihost.net comes up with no results in Google while doing a search for robdarrell.com (a domain I have hosted at Frihost) shows a listing. Both sites have virtually nothing on them. So yeah, seeing as how you've been delisted for -what is it now? over a week?- it may be time to consider moving your site to your 'real' domain name.

Google appears to prefer sites that have a unique IP address, those on shared IPs, especially those on IPs with very many websites like free web hosts are not liked as much. This means that whether you have a subdomain of Frihost, or your own domain hosted by Frihost, you will have to do a little more work to be ranked highly. This is especially the case if you share an IP address with a blacklisted site. On this front Frihost is good as it has strict rules and they appear to be enforced.

Don't get me wrong, you can easily rank high on Frihost, you just need to put the effort in. I think Google is wary that sites on such IP addresses may be spam sites, but once your site is established you should have no problem.
scotty
SoftStag wrote:
Google appears to prefer sites that have a unique IP address, those on shared IPs, especially those on IPs with very many websites like free web hosts are not liked as much. This means that whether you have a subdomain of Frihost, or your own domain hosted by Frihost, you will have to do a little more work to be ranked highly. This is especially the case if you share an IP address with a blacklisted site. On this front Frihost is good as it has strict rules and they appear to be enforced.

Don't get me wrong, you can easily rank high on Frihost, you just need to put the effort in. I think Google is wary that sites on such IP addresses may be spam sites, but once your site is established you should have no problem.


Sounds so painfully logical. No easy way to beat it but I suppose I'll just ignore it, I still get about 30 unique hits a day which is good for my site which has barely anything on it.
littlegiant
Sounds good in theory, Softstag. However, there are paid web hosts that use shared IP addresses (and often hosting more websites than the free ones) and there doesn't appear to be any known problem ranking in Google using them. Do you have any examples to back up what you're saying?
littlegiant
Hey Scotty, looks like you're listed in Google again. (check for your URL or 'scottys articles'). After all is said and done, perhaps it was just a glitch in the system.
scotty
Yes I noticed I was back on. I swear Google is out to drive me crazy.

It says that the page was cached over 10 days ago but it only appear back on the listing in the last couple of days! Shocked

Code:
This is G o o g l e's cache of http://www.scott.frih.net/articles/index.html as retrieved on 14 Oct 2006 04:57:19 GMT.


Oh well we shall see how long it takes my other domain to get listed.

Google is crap, seriously I don't care if a page is spam I want to be able to search the entire internet otherwise there's no point. I can tell you people want to find my site, I've had plenty of emails thanking me for the guide I have written because it saves people money. So Google isn't only driving me crazy (exaggeration a bit) but they are costing people time and money. [/rant]
littlegiant
Quote:
I swear Google is out to drive me crazy.


Ha! Ha! Join the club!

Er... I mean... uhhh... uhmmm...

...

All hail Google, the Supreme Ruler of the internet!

That's what I meant to say..

...(*ahem*)... Very Happy
SoftStag
littlegiant wrote:
Sounds good in theory, Softstag. However, there are paid web hosts that use shared IP addresses (and often hosting more websites than the free ones) and there doesn't appear to be any known problem ranking in Google using them. Do you have any examples to back up what you're saying?

No I don't have any examples that I can show, only speaking from experience and what I have learnt about SEO.

Paid hosts tend to have a lot fewer sites per IP address than free hosts do. Paid hosts are more concerned about server loads etc so don't saturate their sites in quite the same way as free hosts do (at least the good ones anyway).

I'm not saying it is a big issue, only that hosting on a shared IP with many others slows down the process. I think Google is just more wary of these sites. Of course I could be wrong.
Lord Kuat
littlegiant wrote:
Quote:
I swear Google is out to drive me crazy.


Ha! Ha! Join the club!

Er... I mean... uhhh... uhmmm...

...

All hail Google, the Supreme Ruler of the internet!

That's what I meant to say..

...(*ahem*)... Very Happy


Indeed...
Arnie
Could it be possible that the Google spider happened to check your site when frih.net had another one of those 5-minute downtimes, and then assumed it no longer existed?
SoftStag
Arnie wrote:
Could it be possible that the Google spider happened to check your site when frih.net had another one of those 5-minute downtimes, and then assumed it no longer existed?

Google does not seem to be too concerned with this. If the site is not responding then it will check later. If the server returns a 404 then it knows the page it is looking for does not exist and will not index it. Servers go down all the time, so Google build this in to their algorithms and check back. If it is down for days, then it will start to be affected.
scotty
SoftStag wrote:
Arnie wrote:
Could it be possible that the Google spider happened to check your site when frih.net had another one of those 5-minute downtimes, and then assumed it no longer existed?

Google does not seem to be too concerned with this. If the site is not responding then it will check later. If the server returns a 404 then it knows the page it is looking for does not exist and will not index it. Servers go down all the time, so Google build this in to their algorithms and check back. If it is down for days, then it will start to be affected.


Well that is a concern. Check back in how long? Exactly 3 hours, or exactly 9 hours? It could be getting the downtime every time it comes back. But what also puzzles me is that there is only one page of mine indexed? Why hasn't it followed the links?
littlegiant
I think Google's crawl frequency depends on how important your site is. Anyways, if I were you Scotty, I wouldn't obsess over it too much. Save your energy (and brain cells) for building your site. I once had a page that was well indexed for six months (and heavily trafficked) suddenly get completely dropped by Google. I spent a day completely freaked out only to find out a day later that it had been re-indexed. I wasted a lot of agonizing over nothing. Now and then I see this happening to other pages. They get dropped (sometimes unexplicably for extended periods like weeks) only to get re-indexed right back at the same position they were at previously.

Others have not been so fortunate. There have been horror stories of sites ranking in the top ten for their targetted keywords for years and they suddenly get dropped by Google for no reason whatsoever (and they don't get re-indexed at all). Entire businesses have been trashed by Google. So basically I would say, if you got dropped and then re-indexed and you're just starting out, you're not doing so bad.
SoftStag
littlegiant wrote:
I think Google's crawl frequency depends on how important your site is. Anyways, if I were you Scotty, I wouldn't obsess over it too much. Save your energy (and brain cells) for building your site.

I agree totally. The more important a site is to Google, the more it will spider it. You have to be patient with these things, at least Google has found it.

Just make sure you are not ristricting it with robots.txt or using nofollow links, or even meta tags in your other pages.
scotty
I use dream weaver to manage the entire layout of the site and thus every page has the same meta tags. Is this bad?

Code:
<head>
<meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1"/>
<meta name="description" content="Scotty's Articles, the best site in town."/>
<meta name="keywords" content="Scotty, Scott, Scotty's Articles, Sony Ericsson K750i Shutter Sound, Camera, modification, mobile phone, farmanager, flash plugin"/>
<meta name="author" content="Scott"/>
<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="Templates/articles/default.css" media="screen"/>
<!-- InstanceBeginEditable name="doctitle" -->
<title>Scotty's Articles</title>
<!-- InstanceEndEditable -->
<!-- InstanceBeginEditable name="head" --><!-- InstanceEndEditable -->
<style type="text/css">
<!--
.style1 {color: #000000}
-->
</style>
</head>


My robots.txt file is this:

Code:
User-agent: *
Disallow:


Is there anything wrong with that?

Also all my links are just standard html links <a href="contact.html">Contact</a> or whatever, should I be doing this differently?


I don't believe my site is search engine unfriendly but if it is I want to correct it. Otherwise I'm not too fussed by not being indexed by Google. I just want to know why it doesn't follow the links around my page.
SoftStag
Nothing wrong there. If you were using code similar to this:
Code:
<meta name="robots" content="noindex">

Then you would be restricting the robot from indexing the page.

Your robots.txt file is allowing all robots full access, and your links are normal. You just need to be patient, work on more content, and/or getting backlinks and Google will spider your site in it's own time.
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