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Weight Dropped To 0 / Big Drop

Why Did My Weight Drop Overnight To X... Part 3 of 5.

Weight fluctuates almost daily. Even without building new pages or deleting old pages from your site, Google has a mind of its own in deciding which of your pages to include in its index today and which not.

Always visually verify ads are still live on your pages before requesting support!

The #1 Reason Of BIG Drops.

Almost every time when people reported big weight drops in the forums it was down to the more strict content filters. As explained in Part 2, Google has become a lot more anal about what to include and what not. They want to serve quality results to the people using their search engine.

In recent months, Google has been on a razzia, cleaning out their closet in which they are keeping over 8 billion pages.

What they kicked out of their index:

  • Low content pages
  • Similar pages
  • Syndicated pages
  • Duplicate pages
  • Crap pages with nonsense
  • Spam pages
So you were shocked to see your weight dropped to 0. Then when you checked Google's public site: stats you found a lot of Supplemental Results. You don't understand why the page count dropped because you just installed this very nice Amazon feed script which gave you about 20K new pages instantly. Or you published a Wikipedia clone, a DMOZ based directory or something else not-so-unique.

Think about it from Google's perspective for a second. Is it really necessary to have your pages in their index? People can find the DMOZ directory on another few hundred clones. They can find Amazon products on... Amazon! They can find Widipedia on Wikipedia's website or mirrors. Why should your pages get indexed? So they decided to boot these duplicate/very-similar content pages out and your weight, which relied on these being in the index, dropped significantly.

Other reasons why Google decided to not include your pages anymore can be that your pages are too similar to eachother. I remember investigating one instance where the site owner had unique content on many pages and still got condemnded to the index-exit.

What I found was that the template of the site didn't allow for much variation when compared page-by-page. If you can relate to the following, then that's your problem. And not just for your weight!

This site had a big left hand navigation menu. A large header. A content rich right hand features menu and a content rich footer. In the middle of all that was the 'body content'. Only this body content differed from page to page. Copy and paste the raw text into Word and you can do some basic maths. Top, left, right and bottom stay the same sitewide and only a small percentage changes in the middle. This is what I believe made Google think these pages weren't all that interesting. Google couldn't differentiate between the pages! See this illustration and it should be clear:


8 out of 9 is the exact same on each page. The solution is to cut down on the static parts. Cut down on the footer, make sure the right hand feature menu is dynamic, tone down on the header's text content etc.

Make sure the body content makes up the bigger part of each page so Google has something unique to read.

Other Reasons Why It Might Have Dropped

The API can be a source of trouble as well. As explained here, when you run out of API queries, it returns 'ads not found' and your weight drops to 0 and ads are taken out of the rotation.

The spot check validation bot might have stumbled on a page without the ads. It checks all files within the Base URL that are in the Google index, including an attempt to read in PDF files, Word Docs etc. You will have to exclude these in the robots.txt or move them to a folder outside the Base URL tree to avoid this. To get it up straight away before solving the underlying issue permanently, you can simply revalidate and hope the bot doesn't pick the same page. Now you're back up where you were until the next visit.

It could be that the validation bot couldn't access your site at the time of the spot check. If you were performing maintenance or your server was down, you cab get booted out temporarily. Revalidate and you should be back up.

It can also be that the behind-the-scenes PR has dropped without it being reflected in the toolbar.

Sometimes, hosts update their software and cause the scripts to fail working. The ad netwrok file relies on some file access functions which aren;t supported by all hosts. If they updated/upgraded and changed their policies regarding these functions, your ads might stop showing and you loose your weight.

The network is still evolving and the script need updating from time to time to support the latest features. If you missed the update notification e-mails that are being sent out automatically then you might find errors on your pages and your own ads taken out of rotation until you update your scripts.

It can also be that Google is in the middle of one of their notorious 'updates'. During these periods (which can last for weeks on end) they seem to be altering the page count they have for sites and then rolling back to the previous one and so foth. If the API took this count from one of the datacentres in flux then your weight will drop.

Read On: Weight Stuck At x. Part 4 of 5.

If you have a new site you may find that initially you have many pages indexed by Google. Then, after a few weeks you end up in the notorious "sandbox" and the number of pages listed under "site:" searches drops rapidly. The effect of this in Co-op terms is that you may see good weight figures on a new site, but then these suddenly drop to zero or almost zero after a month or so.

An example of this would be my site that started at about 1,300, went up to 1,600 and then plunged to zero, Now Google has two pages showing under "site:" and I have a massive weight of 68.

The upshot of this is that sites in the sandbox are effectively displaying other member sites ads for "free". This is just something you have to live with, like the sandbox itself.

On the flipside, once Google lets you out, you will experience a sudden and rapid rise in incoming links (from your improved weight in the Co-op) which will further accentuate the boost in traffic you will start to see from Google.
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