In an earlier post about disappearing from SERPs completely, I thought that too many internal links in the sitewide navigation of my site were causing the penalty for that particular page to be removed from the SERPs without any trace of it. I was hasty to remove the link to that webpage in an attempt to regain my previous rankings but then it occured to me that the other pages which were in the sitewide navigation would have shown similar penalties if that was the case. 5 days after removing the link, I re-included the link with the same anchor text as before because I was convinced it was not the case.
I then thought that it must have been a temporary glitch in the system which would have dropped the webpage for its keywords from the rankings. The webpage was ranking among 50 million pages without any external links (or maybe just 1 link from an article directory) and that shows that it had the domain and page level trust from google and that alone was enough to rank the webpage on the first page of search engine results. I decided to wait for a couple of weeks and see if the rankings would come back.
After 3 weeks, I was beginning to be really nervous as the rankings were not coming back. I wondered whether there was an Over Optimisation Penalty (OOP) on that page or whether something else was causing the problem. I ran the webpage though a spam checker tool and there was nothing much going on there, nothing spammy at all. I decided to validate the webpage through W3C standards and there were some errors but nothing major to cause disappearance from the SERPs. So the next thing was to look at the over optimisation filter.
I found that the keywords were underlined, bolded, italised as well. Now this looks too spammy, right? Well I concluded that I must have tipped over the OOP filter and that’s why the webpage was not ranking. Mind you that the webpage in question was still indexed and had a PageRank of 1 still. So the problem was just with ranking for those keywords it was optimised for. I removed the underline, bold and italics from the content and changed my signature on an active forum for link to that webpage and made a post hoping that it will get crawled quickly and Google will re-evaluate the webpage and re-rank it.
Next morning when I checked the SERPs, I had my ranking back. Wow, I thought! Things have worked out in the end but wait a minute, was the penalty caused by the over optimisation of that webpage? I decided to check my server logs to see if google fetched (crawled) that webpage the previous day after I made the changes but I was shocked to find out that it wasn’t the case. Now this means that none of the changes I made had any effect on getting back my rankings and this was confirmed when I viewed a cached copy of the webpage in Google.
I couldn’t leave the changes in place because on the next crawl google would re-evaluate the changes and adjust the rankings accordingly and since the changes did not bring back my rankings, I decided that I was better off removing them and bringing the webpage back to its original state. This is what I did and now I’ll be checking the SERPs over the next few days to see if the rankings disappear again.
The conclusion is that it took nearly 4 weeks for google to re-instate my rankings without me having to do anything. This means that if you see your rankings disappear for any reason, before you start making changes, wait a couple of weeks (as long as 6 weeks) and you might see your rankings back again. Otherwise you might end up messing everything up and lose your rankings forever!