A brief recap on the strange incident happened at the beginning of April 2019. A massive deindexing incident removed a series of URLs from the Index of Google’s Search Engine.
Last Friday, the SEO community woke up with a real earthquake: Google dropped many URLs and homepages out of its search engine index. Webmasters and SEO specialists had to manually check the status of their URLs and homepages. Miguel Cidre, our SEO Specialist, warned about this incident in the early morning via Twitter:
ESTO ES VERÍDICO 👇👇👇👇👇👇👇👇👇
Hemos detectado varias homes de webs desindexadas por Google. Si detectáis que vuestra web ha desaparecido de las SERPS id a Search Console y revisad la url de la home. A mí me ponía desindexada. Indexas de nuevo y vuelves a donde estabas.
— 🔴Miguel Cidre🚀 (@MiguelCidrex) 5 de abril de 2019
Although it was still early to know the cause of the problem, everything seemed to indicate that it was a specific error of Google, rather than a change in its algorithm or a penalty for a specific domain. The apparent randomness when deindexing URLs, without a clear pattern, pointed towards that suspicion.
Throughout Friday and the weekend, SEO Specialists reacted on social media, both in Spanish-speaking countries and globally:
Wide spread Google de-indexing issues. Sites are reporting huge drops in their content being removed from Google and thus rankings and traffic suffering. Seems like a Google bug… https://t.co/u7h881P9it @JohnMu any advice and info? pic.twitter.com/8gLMJ4aaW2
— Barry Schwartz (@rustybrick) 5 de abril de 2019
El misterio de las páginas desindexadas por Google
que vuelven al index cuando se solicita vía GSC…
Como sucedan dos casos más como éste,@navedelmisterio se pasa al #seo y le dedica un especial pic.twitter.com/JfiMdz04k6
— Miguel Ángel V. (@Crecimientoguru) 6 de abril de 2019
Google has broken Google https://t.co/C6DTnDqkoJ
— Gianluca Fiorelli (@gfiorelli1) 5 de abril de 2019
This morning Google confirmed they fixed the bug where pages were dropping out of their index. We don’t know much outside of it being a technical issue. https://t.co/u7h881P9it pic.twitter.com/oalDIYddlF
— Barry Schwartz (@rustybrick) 7 de abril de 2019
The official response
On Saturday April 6th, John Mueller (Google’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst) apologized and offered a response on Twitter (with some hidden humour), in which he acknowledged that this deindexing had occurred due to a “technical problem” that would be solved briefly. And we say so because the John was happy that “the Inspect URL tool is also useful for this type of case!”:
Sorry — We had a technical issue on our side for a while there — this should be resolved in the meantime, and the affected URLs reprocessed. It’s good to see that the Inspect URL tool is also useful for these kinds of cases though!
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) 6 de abril de 2019
Update [09/04]: On Monday 9th, Danny Sullivan announced on Google SearchLiaison’s account that they were still working to solve the problem, giving a term of 12/24 hours:
We are still resolving the indexing issue that has impacted some pages. We’ve made further improvements and hope any remaining issues will be done within the next 12-24 hours. Will provide a further update when the issue is fully resolved.
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) 8 de abril de 2019
Update [10/04]: On Tuesday 10th, Google SearchLiaison concluded the incident, apologizing for it and regarding the users’ patience … and Screaming Frog‘s answer was a cool one:
And you would like to thank all the wonderful SEOs who were the first to let you know about it 🙂
— Screaming Frog (@screamingfrog) 11 de abril de 2019
Even though this was quite of a dramatic morning start on Friday, the solution to the Google bug was easy. As Miguel points from his YouTube Channel, the first step is to go “Manual Actions” on Google Search Console, to check if all the links are okay. If you notice that one of the URLs of your page is missing in this section, you can manually index your website again, and it will automatically recover the positions in the Google Search Engine.
In this tutorial (in Spanish), you can learn more about this process:
If you want to clarify or add more info from your personal experience about this incident (already named as Indexgate), just share it with us in the comment section below.