It’s the moment any site owner dreads: typing a familiar keyword into the Google search box, and turning up a list that doesn’t contain your site. Part of the confusion caused by this particular predicament is how difficult it is to spot something that’s not there – not just your site, but the difficult-to-find problems that might have caused it to disappear. If you were there yesterday, but you’re not there today, here’s what you need to do.
1. Detect that something is wrong. As most site owners involved in search engine optimisation know, it can be hard not to check in on your rankings every day. If you do, and you detect a drop, it’s not necessarily a problem – a warning sign might be if your site drops a number of pages, then again and doesn’t fluctuate back up. If your site completely disappears, it’s probably time for panic stations.
2. Use the ever-convenient ‘site:’ search. Type ‘site:’ followed by your domain name into Google. This search will confirm your site’s presence on the index, or lack thereof. If you’re still somewhere on Google, your problem is likely to be the algorithm objecting to part of your site.
3. Double-check your robot communications. Most of the problems that cause site disappearances are related to content, but not all of them. If your site has dropped or disappeared, check that your robots.txt isn’t preventing Google’s robots from indexing your site. Check for messages if you’re registered as a webmaster with Google.
If you’ve checked everywhere, and your site is still MIA, it’s time to get to work and repair your site.