Google Parked Domain Classifier Error Blamed for Lost Search Rankings

no-parkingSeveral websites vanished from Google’s index earlier this week. It wasn’t the much rumored over-optimization boogeyman. Rather, it was a bug involving Google’s classifier for parked domains, as Google's Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts explained and apologized for on Google+.

Cutts wrote:

“The short explanation is that it turns out that our classifier for parked domains was reading from a couple files which mistakenly were empty. As a result, we classified some sites as parked when they weren't. I apologize for this; it looks like the issue is fixed now, and we'll look into how to prevent this from happening again.”

Earlier this week, several people began complaining on various forums about websites vanishing from Google’s search results, Search Engine Roundtable reported. Despite Cutts’ apology and promised fix, it still appears as though some people still haven’t recovered from Google’s error, or only saw a temporary reprieve.

Google announced the arrival of its new parked domain classifier in December. Here's how Google described it:

This is a new algorithm for automatically detecting parked domains. Parked domains are placeholder sites that are seldom useful and often filled with ads. They typically don’t have valuable content for our users, so in most cases we prefer not to show them.

However, this isn’t the first time websites have lost search rankings due to Google misclassifying websites as parked domains. It also happened in 2010, according to Search Engine Roundtable.

Were you hit by this Google error? Has your site recovered? Let us know in the comments.

About the author

Danny Goodwin formerly was Associate Editor of Search Engine Watch, where he also covered the latest search marketing and industry news. He joined Incisive Media in October 2007, in charge of copy editing columns that appeared on both Search Engine Watch and ClickZ. Prior to a life in the search industry, he worked in the journalism field, working in numerous newsroom positions, before later working as a freelance copy editor.