Spurned by Google, ignored by all

Something strange happened on Monday to my photoblog, In Photos.org. It disappeared off Google’s radar and traffic has dropped like a stone since.

Here’s what traffic and search engine visitors looked like last week.


Here’s where things took a nose dive.


And finally, here’s what traffic and search engine referrals looked like yesterday.


I don’t know if it’s connected but on Monday I noticed that my Google sitemap contained an error. This url wasn’t encoded properly and threw the error. It was easily fixed but traffic hasn’t increased yet.

If you use the Google sitemap wp plugin and Ultimate Tag Warrior you may also be using a plugin that adds your site’s tags onto the sitemap. I installed it last weekend here and on my photoblog and didn’t notice this known issue, “Your tag name must not contain an ampersand ‘&’ – if it does, please rename tag without an ampersand – Reported by Jilly”. It’s easily fixed with a urlencode() but I disabled the plugin until traffic gets back to normal.

Would a broken sitemap cause traffic to drop so alarmingly or is it something else?

PS. See you at BarCamp South East? I have a few notes ready. Should be an interesting talk!

30 thoughts on “Spurned by Google, ignored by all

  1. If it weren’t for Google I wouldn’t have a readership. Seriously, it’s stunning the volume that springs from Google’s loins. So to speak.

    Never had the sitemap error problem. Hope it resolves itself for you.

  2. Yahoo image search is fairly popular so that might be a large chunk of the traffic from Yahoo.

    Google has been playing a lot of games with my traffic and indexing for the last 2 weeks, so that might also be related.

  3. I had the same experience on my one of my blogs. For two days traffic from google dropped. Luckily, they went back up again. They might be updating or something.

  4. I’ve seen with a few of the sites I monitor, usually when a client insists on using ampersands or double dashes “–” in their post titles. But in your case, you have like a 55% drop in google referral traffic, in their’s I only saw 10 – 25%. It looks like google recently put another datacenter in rotation, so it could be that you were missing referrals due to their indexes not being replicated to the new location.

  5. I check your page rank trough iwebtool and at this time your site PR “dance” from 5 to 7, other reason is probably over 100 link in your homepage or if you change the structure of permalink.


  6. I’m seeing it as well. All of the sudden, all of my sites have PR0’s although I’m still listed. Not really happy about the issue but, since it’s Google, what can we do about it?

  7. From what I have seen, if you are using a sitemap file and it is broken for some reason, Google won’t even try to spider you.

    Thankfully they seem to be more willing to forgive you when you fix the file.

  8. well, most of my traffic comes from images.google.com, yet Google analytics gives me funny results usually, sttattraq reports around 1500 visits/1200 uniques, and analytics reports around 300/200, and mentions nothing about yahoo referrals :))

  9. Looks like Google did a re-dance for lack of a better term to call it. My PRs have returned as well as others. It was a bit of a scare there though.

  10. Oh yes! Rejoice! Finally inphotos is back in it’s rightful place and basking in the glory of Google’s search engine database! This morning I finally saw referrers return to normal.

    Only two weeks. Bah!

  11. This update has been done twice, I believe both the first time that it happens, for me Google is changing methods.

  12. “This morning I finally saw referrers return to normal.”

    Don’t we tell folks over in wp.com land that they need to write interesting material to draw people in and not rely on search engine trickery? 🙂

  13. I have this problem at least twice a year, even before I started making sitemaps. I’m not sure what causes it, but google is very fickle and there are so many sites out there using repeated content over and over and they seem to be at the top of googles ranking. I also saw a site that sells fully ready websites aimed at scamming google and I see the same content on 100’s of websites, so I wonder why they are so quick to punish sites with original content like this one. 🙁

  14. personally I feel search engines behave rather strangely. Like another reader said, their should be some novel way of actually differentiating genuine quality content from fake pseudo garbage on serch engine rankings.

    Just my take though


  15. Hi.

    My site is over a year old, and I got on 1st and 2nd page results on Google for all of my keywords (even without many back links).
    Then I have created and submitted Google site-map, with top priority for main page (it vent like that 1, 0.9, 0.8, 0.7, 0.6, 0.6, 0.6, 0.5,) And then I was drooped to about 10th page results for 90% of my keywords.
    Thinking that something is wrong with the site-map I have submitted another one, that vent like that (0.5, 0.5, 0.5, 0.5, 0.5, 0.5, for all pages) that didn’t help either.
    So I deleted entirely site-map from my server, hoping that I can at least get back on 2nd page results, as I was before without sitemaps, especially now when I have about 50 good back links and PR-2, and that also didn’t help.
    I opened Google Webmaster Tools account and Google Analytics along with submitting the Site-map, and I found a lot of posts from people that did the same thing and they also got dropped right after doing so?!

    I’m really confused right now, please help me! Thank you.

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