On Friday the 5th of April, pages and sites all over the show were reportedly dropping off the face of Google Search Console. The next day, Google reported having fixed this de-indexing issue, declaring it the result of a ‘technical issue’. They then retracted this statement, responding to further complaints that the issue seems to be taking longer than initially expected to fix.
While the issue was officially resolved on the 11th of April – almost a full week later (yikes!) – the industry is still picking their feathers back up and are scrambling to know what they can do to get their pages re-indexed.
So what happened to Google for this issue to happen? And why did it take so long to fix? We give you the lowdown below.
*We will be using local New Zealand time for all dates and times mentioned in this blog post.
There was an uproar of complaints from many SEO agencies and site owners alike reporting that their sites were dropping out of Google’s search index for no apparent reason. A huge number of sites’ pages were no longer showing up on Google SERPs, and this issue was instantly obvious through Google Search Console or when using the site: command in a browser.
Since these pages were no longer showing up when their relevant keywords were searched, this created large impacts in sites traffic stats. Sites that were affected found they could use the fetch feature to reinstate their indexing almost immediately. But for some sites with over half their pages dropping out, it is not an easy fix.
It’s not clear why this has happened, or how widespread the issue was. It is unlikely that Google will provide any more information on the matter. However, there have been assumptions made that it was some kind of engineering bug.
On Saturday the 6th, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller announced that the issue had been resolved, stating it was a technical issue that should now be resolved, and the affected URL’s reprocessed.
Complaints did not stop there though. Another tweet by John Mueller on Monday stated that the issue was not, in fact, fixed. Mueller reported that fixing the issue was taking longer than initially expected.
Communications have improved in relation to the issue via Google Twitter accounts since then. Google Search Liason has been in communication about it, with constant updates.
They reiterated on Monday that they were aware of the issue and taking steps to solve it, and that site owners did not need to take any specific actions to fix it themselves.
An update on Wednesday stated that Google was still working to resolve the issue and had made further improvements to the system. This was followed up the next day with a tweet from Google Search Liaison that things should all be completely resolved within the next 24 hours.
We are still resolving the indexing issue that has impacted some pages. We’ve made further improvements and hope any remaining issues will be done within the next 12-24 hours. Will provide a further update when the issue is fully resolved.— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) April 8, 2019
The de-indexing issue fully resolved on the 11th of April, Friday, as per the announcement below.
The indexing issue has now been fully resolved. We apologize for the inconvenience. We appreciate your patience as we restored normal operation.— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) April 11, 2019
This bug stuck around for a total of 6 days, and we all know the impact ranking can have on site traffic, leads and overall revenue. Although it is fixed now, this is a huge issue on Google’s part.
If you noticed a significant loss of traffic, revenue, sales, or anything that relies on your Google rankings, there’s a high chance you have been affected by this bug.
You can use the URL Inspection Tool and Submit to index feature on Google Search Console to check if your pages have dropped off at all during this time. According to Google, they should all be back to normal by now, but it never hurts to double-check.
If you’ve noticed your website is caught up in all this mess, or if you are at all interested in implementing SEO for your website so that you can rank higher on Google SERPs, get in touch with us today.