Several 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+.
“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.
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.