More threads by djbaxter


Jun 28, 2012
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Interesting case study on what happens when the noindex meta tag meta name="robots" content="noindex, nofollow" is inadvertently added to the head section sitewide - and the process of gradual recovery when that is corrected.

This Is What Happens When You Accidentally De-Index Your Site from Google
by Jeff Baker,
November 5, 2019

Nobody ever thinks clearly when their reptile brain is engaged. You panic, you think irrationally and you make poor decisions. Zero chill.

I finally gathered some presence of mind to think clearly about what happened: It’s highly unusual for keywords rankings to disappear completely. It must be technical.

It must be indexing.

A quick Google search for the pages that lost keyword rankings confirmed that the pages had, in fact, disappeared. Search Console reported the same:


Notice the warning at the bottom:

No: ‘noindex’ detected in ‘robots’ meta tag

Now we were getting somewhere. Next, it was time to confirm this finding in the source code.


Our pages were marked for de-indexing. But how many pages were actually de-indexed so far?

All of them. After sending a few frantic notes to our developer, he confirmed that a sprint deployed on Thursday evening (August 1, 2019), almost three days prior, had accidentally pushed the code live on every page.

We had lost about 33.2% of our search traffic.

Once pages re-indexed, they were fully restored in terms of search visibility. The biggest issue was getting them re-indexed.

Did we recover?
Yes, we fully recovered and all URLs seem to drive the same search visibility.

How long did it take?
Search visibility returned to baseline after six weeks. All pages re-indexed after about eight to nine weeks.


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