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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  • Heidi V.

    That’s good advice for a new domain also, great advice thanks for the tips!

  • Gary

    Do I really need to spend $20,000+ to fix my website?

    • Harrison

      What would you need to spend 20k on? If you have an in-house person, it should cost nothing extra.

      • Gary

        There are 2 things wrong with that statement, the assumption that it’s a sple fix, which I simply do not believe and the second that in house staff don’t get paid a wage so cost nothing!

        I have been in the online industry since the mid 90s and I have met few people that are actually able to achieve the results they talk about in post. I would love to think someone could help me but I feel all hope of finding anyone with any real experience is a lost cause. Who do you recommend I speak to?

        Thanks and the tone of this post is not intended to be rude 🙂

      • Gary

        Oh one other thing Harrison, I left a message for your company to call me yesterday but have not heard back?

        Please contact me.


      • Harrison

        Hi Gary,

        I apologize I was unable to talk with you. I’ve been at SES Chicago all week. Recovering from getting de-indexed is very simple for smaller sites. Larger sites may take a lot more work depending on many factors, specifically whether it is a content managed site or database-driven. When I mentioned it would cost nothing, that is working under the assumption that you already have an in-house SEO person. If you don’t have those resources available, then it would cost money to hire a freelancer or agency. There are many great freelancers and agencies out there, but the quality of work depends on the amount of money you want to invest. When looking into agencies or freelancers, make sure they are reputable. Look for instances of published thought leadership, quality of clients they have worked with, experience, and it also never hurts to ask for a few case studies from the prospect.

    • Gary

      Thanks Harrison, please contact me when you have time.


  • Webmark SEO

    Good post! Hopefully this will never happen to me, but I’ll save it as a favorite just in case. Do little changes to previous content really help getting re-indexed faster?

    • Harrison

      Doing the little changes won’t get the site re-indexed any faster, but it will show that your content is being updated frequently (fresh content) once the old versions of the pages are re-indexed, which will help you recover your organic search rankings.

    • Serj

      It sure won’t hurt, now would it ? Sometimes you can notice many tini-tiny issues with your domains only once you have its rankings melt down. This is a great opportunity to review what you have and what you can improve. This is a great post, thanks a lot ! ^_^

  • Gary

    On a quick not to the admins here, Adblock plus used by thousands of people causes the comments section not to show on the site.

    This may be causing lots of people not to leave comments or not reply to them.

  • Carrie


    I’m still having trouble getting indexed. I bought an aged domain about 3 months ago that was 7 years old ( At one point it was a developed website but a couple years back it started being used as a 301 redirect (i.e. was being redirected to, as an example).

    I’m using GWT, added new content, sitemap, fetched the site, some social media, etc. but it still will not index. There are some “iffy” backlinks but the profile isn’t awful. It’s indexed in Bing too. I can’t seem to figure out the issue. Any ideas? My next attempt is going to be a premium press release. I’m grasping at straws at this point…


    • Harrison Jones

      In Webmaster Tools, have you checked to make sure the domain is not still set to move to the other domain? To check this, go to “Change of Address” under configuration. Make sure the domain isn’t set as a moved domain.

  • Nagendran

    Hi Harrison, first of all, thanks for writing such an informative post.. This solution you gave for de-indexed websites is reasonable. But one of my previous clients has a website which doesn’t rank for any keyword (except branded)in spite of having good content, decent backlinks portfolio and Google PR of 3. Do you have any solution for this kind of problem? This was the case before panda and penguin updates, and it seems they are still struggling with it.

  • Harrison Jones

    I would take a look at the title tags and overall keyword strategy used in the content to make sure your client is targeting the keywords properly. I would also check for any duplication issues and other technical issues. I would also recommend loading up the website in the Lynx browser so you can see if search engines are even able to read the content on your site.

    Are the keywords you are targeting very short, general and competitive? Or are they very specific?

  • Justin Mifsud

    Dear Harrison,

    First of all, thank you for the words of comfort more than anything else. Just this morning, I have been notified that my website has been deindexed. It was a very unfair thing because someone created a script that modified a CSS file in my wp-includes CSS folder. The bastard did it so badly that he ended up bringing my whole site down and did not gain anything from me. But in the process, since the CSS file is loaded for every page, he de indexed my entire site. I have now removed the file but obviously the damage is done.

    I will be very upfront with you – before reading this article I was about to say to hell with it all and just abandon my site even though I consume about 12 hrs a week on it and have managed to attract 35K monthly visits.

    I have read in forums that a domain will never recover once it has been re-indexed. I have also read that re-indexing may even never happen. I have used Google Webmaster to re-index it.

    Are these stories or are they true?

    Thank you


    Justin Mifsud

  • Jacqui Low

    My personal website was de-indexed yesterday. – I appreciate the info – thanks!

  • BarryZ

    Please explain “set up G+ authorship throughout your site” ?

  • Nathan

    Thank you for the advice I’m harf way there my server broke down for 1 week….

  • Kim Garcia

    It’s a very nice post! Thanks for sharing. It helps a lot now because our site are losing index pages after the transition (from catalogue site to online booking site). I think, this is the reason why we’re losing traffic in organic. Thanks, again. 🙂

  • Abdul Rehman

    I’ve applied your methods and getting rock in Google and other major search engines. My site traffic going high now a days thank you 🙂