How to Recover from Getting De-indexed

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Whether you let your domain expire, server crashed or got penalized for breaking Google’s webmaster quality guidelines, having your website de-indexed is a serious issue. Once the damage has been done and the site has been completely de-indexed, webmasters are left wondering how to recover from such a catastrophe. Getting de-indexed is not a death sentence, and can be recovered from in as little as one week depending on the size of the site. Reclaiming organic search rankings may take up to one month or longer, and traffic will suffer until a full recovery has been made.

Case Study

Google’s index status of the website

Back in early October, a personal blog belonging to a friend underwent DNS server issues, causing the site to go down for five days. Within those five days, the website was completely de-indexed. The chart above was taken from Google Webmaster Tools. This chart reflects a partial de-indexation since Webmaster Tools does not provide live updates. I can assure you, the website was completely de-indexed. Once the server issue was resolved, the site dropped off the maps in organic search rankings and saw virtually no organic traffic for the first few days.

Organic search traffic for the website after the de-indexation

Using a few simple steps, the website was re-indexed completely six days after the server issues were resolved. After two weeks, all organic search rankings were returned to their usual ranges. After three weeks, traffic was not only back to normal, but was actually higher than ever before. Below I will describe the steps I took to reclaim traffic and organic search rankings.

Organic search traffic after getting re-indexed

Steps to Recover from De-indexation

First and foremost, if the website was de-indexed for violating Google’s webmaster quality guidelines, you will need to resolve those issues to be back in compliance with the guidelines before any other measures can be taken. If the website was de-indexed due to server issues, make sure the server problems have been completely resolved before making any effort to regain traffic. If the cause of the de-indexation has been resolved, start out simple by resubmitting sitemaps, increasing the crawl rate and using the “fetch as GoogleBot” tool on the entire site in Google Webmaster Tools. This will notify Google that your site has been restored and ready to be crawled.

Now that Google has started re-crawling your website, utilize social media platforms to start bringing traffic back in until your organic traffic has been restored. If you haven’t taken advantage of it yet, set up G+ authorship throughout your site and begin sharing your pages and posts. This will not only branch out to new audiences, but will also help Google re-discover your content. By driving in more social media shares, it will send a signal to search engines to pay attention to your content whether or not it has been re-indexed yet.

The next few steps will require a lot of work, but will pay off in the end. Go through all your content and make sure everything is optimized. Tweak any title tags and meta descriptions as needed. Check out your website architecture to make sure your content can be crawled efficiently. Start publishing fresh content during this time to really capture the attention of GoogleBot. Begin carrying out an aggressive link building campaign for your top pages to build up new authority and help Google re-discover your website quicker and place more value on your content. If you haven’t done so, start implementing microdata on your website to make your search listings more enticing to users.

Don’t look at de-indexation as a death sentence. Think of it as a time to rebuild, improve and make your website perform better than ever before. As a result of these practices, after one month, organic traffic increased by 20% compared to before the site was de-indexed. Getting de-indexed is a devastating catastrophe, but it presents new opportunities.

Harrison Jones

Harrison Jones

Agency Lead, Analytics and Testing at Envisionit Media
Harrison Jones is the Agency Lead, Analytics and Testing at Envisionit Media - a digital marketing agency in Chicago. He specializes in SEO, data science,... Read Full Bio
Harrison Jones
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