I thought I’d try a quick experiment out to see how quickly Google would de-index my most popular article, and re-index it. But first, some assumptions and caveats so you know what we’re working with here:
- My blog is build on WordPress and has an RSS feed
- The page I am about to remove has a PR of 1 and ranks in 3-4 position
- I currently have 20 active plugin, one of which is the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin installed
- I have an XML sitemap file that automatically updates when a URL is published/removed when it goes back into draft
For this test, I used my Google Calendar and iPhone Cal syncing issue page. It’s my most visited page in search, as you will see below, with 20+ comments, not very many shares. This page received 2,914 visits as a landing page and the average user spend 1 minute on that page in January 2012.
- Put the article back into Draft mode
- Have it removed from my XML sitemap file and off the HTML sitemap page (automatically done through plugins)
- See my traffic drop and search for my top referring keyword which was “google calendar not syncing with iphone” to see if my page had disappeared off the grid, if not wait until it did
- Once the page is gone, wait and republish
- Diligently watch the search results for my page
- Write this blog to tell you what happened
- I put my article into Draft on February 20, 2012 – I took about 24 hours before my page was gone from Google’s index. By February 22, my analytics tool reported 1 visit to my site.
- 2.5 weeks later on March 9, I republished the article and see how quickly Google would pick it up. Keep in mind that the WordPress SEO tool automatically adds the URL to my XML sitemap, and also writes it to you HTML sitemap. They both likely helped the search engines discover it quicker.
- On March 15, I started to gain traffic for those keywords, except a large number of them I noticed filtered into (not provided)… dang! So I cross checked my landing page report and what do you know, it was the page! It took Google about 5-6 days to discover and bring my page to the top of the search results for ”google calendar not syncing with iphone” again.
You know what the funny thing is? This long tail search term is a “breakout” keyword in Google Insights for Search – see here. Not only that, the Google Keyword Tool (GKT) reports that there are 260 monthly searches for that phrase (exact match) globally and 210 searched in the US. Looks like a lot of people are having a tough time syncing their calendars across devices. Apple, Google… hope you are reading this…
What does this tell us?
This tell us that,
- If you’re allowing Google bots to easily access your content, it will crawl it and index your page quicker. If you don’t have essentials like a sitemap, I encourage you to look into creating one and telling Google where it is.
- Google can remove your site in a matter of hours. Be sure you are not allowing just anyone into your backend CMS. It can turn ugly if you’re a large organization that relies on a page to be alive 24/7.
- It takes a bit of time for bots to crawl, index and rank your page, but it will happen. Assuming you haven’t made any major changes to your site, your page should show up in the search results in the matter of days/weeks if you send a ping, update your sitemap files, and pray (ignore that last tip).
- Simply, publish valuable and helpful content on a blog that has an RSS. These pages typically get discovered and indexed quicker.
Have you done a similar experiment or have any thoughts about my approach? Please share your comments below!