You see the postings in the forums. People talk about their sites going in an out of the index on a regular basis. Their sites go in for 5 days, and then are out for 10. It’s a wrenching experience.
In my recent interview with Adam Lasnik, Adam explained that it simply means that Google is detecting what it considers to be some poor quality signals with regard to your site. The other thing that Adam outlined is that the reason for the in and out behavior is that Google is tweaking their algorithms on a regular basis.
Based on some of my experience in helping some people with these problems, a regular basis could be as frequent as weekly, or even more often. It’s interesting to contemplate why Google would be making these tweaks so frequently. It could be that it’s a part of constantly testing search quality with the live index. It would be reasonable to speculate (and I am speculating) that they have a variety of automated measurement tools in place to see how various tweaks affect overall click though rates, bounce backs, searchers per use per session, etc.
But if this problem is happening to you, you want to have some idea about what to do. Here is a list of things that you may want to look for:
- Too large a percentage of your links are reciprocal
- Lack of high quality inbound links
- Too large a percentage of your inbound links are not relevant to your site topic
- No outbound links
- Outbound links to poor quality sites
- Too large a percentate of your outbound links are Nofollowed (note: does not apply to blog comments and forums, where this expected behavior)
- No coherent topic for your site
- Too large a percentate of your pages with duplicate content
- Too large a percentage of your pages with minimal content
- Titles are duplicated
- More than 5 keywords in your keywords metatags on your pages
- Meta descriptions are the same on every page
- Image alt tags that are way too long
- Keyword stuffing
- Hidden text, or almost hidden text
- Hidden Links, or almost hidden links
- Web server downtime too high
So if your site is going in and out of the index, this is a list of things for you to think about. It’s natural to agonize about what is going on, and many webmasters that are experiencing this problem are honestly trying to run good web sites. But, the in and out behavior of your site tells you that you have something to work on.