Google Admits Bug Caused 60% Traffic Drop For Site

Aug 1, 2011 • 8:28 am | comments (29) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

google traffic dropImagine 60% of your traffic goes missing one day and most of that is because Google had a bug with their algorithm.

One day you are getting a lot of traffic, paying your bills through ad dollars, and helping users find the content they need and then the next day, it is all gone. Gone not because of something you did but because of a weird glitch with Google's algorithm.

That is what happened to the owner of

He reported he dropped from 15,000 users to 5,000 users, with a 66% drop in traffic almost all because of Google.

And get this, Google admitted it was their fault.

Pierre Far, a Googler, said in the Google Webmaster Help forums:

I reached out to a team internally and they identified an algorithm that is inadvertently negatively impacting your site and causing the traffic drop. They're working on a fix which hopefully will be deployed soon.

The webmaster reported the issue on the 27th, Pierre from Google responded on the 29th. Today is the 31st and there has yet to be a confirmed change in Google to fix the bug.

This is not the first time this happened and Google admitted to a bug with an individual site. Last time this happened, it took months to resolve. I hope that is not the case this time, but I wouldn't be too confident in seeing a quick fix for a single site. A shame but the reality.

Forum discussion atGoogle Webmaster Help.

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08/01/2011 01:09 pm

Hi Barry,  While we can not guarantee crawling, indexing or ranking of sites, I believe this case shows once again that our Google Help Forum is a great communication channel for webmasters. I am glad you picked up on that escalation :)

Barry Schwartz

08/01/2011 01:29 pm

Huge fan of the forums, always have been. Glad Pierre spotted it.

Black Seo Guy

08/01/2011 03:17 pm

Google have a big job to do and sometime I guess crap like this happens..I wonders did it affect everyone. "Black Seo Guy "Signing Off"


08/01/2011 03:52 pm

Kudos to Google/Pierre Far. Pierre Far and Gary Illyes are rocking it at the moment!


08/01/2011 04:06 pm

This bug may not be the casue of everyone's Panda problems but it would be a fairly intelligent guess to say it will have affected more thna one site. Any news as to whether Gooogle is offering any compensation? :))

Justin Howley

08/01/2011 07:56 pm

It absolutely has happened to others. I've seen a return of pre-panda spam sites just jump back up in rank. I've also seen some very strange results such as all google books results for certain queries. I'm keeping a close eye on the SERPS taking screenshots as I go.


08/01/2011 08:26 pm

Thats crazy. I would rampage if I lost 66% of my traffic because of a random bug.

Dr. Peter J. Meyers

08/01/2011 10:38 pm

I think we're all better off for having Pierre join the team at Google. He's been in the trenches with webmasters for a long time.

paper writing service

08/01/2011 10:57 pm

Amazing article. Thanks for the post. This is very straight forword and helps to improve your skil set.

Fionn Downhill

08/01/2011 11:42 pm

We had the exact same thing on the 27th.  We thought it was Panda 2.3 but the site had survived all other Panda updates and it was very unusual.  We were also confused as to why it hit 5 days or so after the actual rollout of 2.3.  Now the question is what to do do we wait since it was a bug and I sure more than 1 site was affected or do I contact Google directly.


08/02/2011 06:50 am

Thats unfortunate but there is always going to be some collateral damage with each tweak. Great of him to have atleast identified the root cause correctly which should be enough to get him reconsidered.


08/02/2011 08:23 am

After reading this post I rushed to check the analytic for our website; fortunately for  us everything looks fine. We generally get 355-400 visitors on a daily basis and these figures have remained the same. But I really feel sad for those who would have lost dollars.


08/02/2011 10:11 am

Sad news! But I was really relieved when I saw that our company was not affected... Thanks for the shout!

Rob Abdul

08/02/2011 11:58 am

My mother always says, when you admit you were wrong, that makes you right.   It is nice to know that Google responded swiftly and resolved everything.


08/02/2011 12:04 pm

My reading is that they may have said they were wrong but they are a long way from putting anything right yet.


08/02/2011 03:07 pm

Google has no choice these days but to start kissing customers ass....they been getting away with stuff like that for a long its different they have serious competitors "facebook", "bing", "twitter" and other smaller ones. Ive seen a softer Google that it used to be but Google its still pure EVIL


08/02/2011 06:50 pm

It takes courage to spam up such a quality site such as SERoundTable. Take that ish elsewhere.

iCheap Marketing & Design

08/02/2011 08:07 pm

Oh! it is a big loss for that business owner, dropping of 66% traffic mean that he have lost almost his business not just by his fault. I believe in the future Google will care of their algorithm.

Waseem Ahmed

08/02/2011 08:08 pm

So, now i think he can claim his losses from Google.

Dan Whitehouse

08/03/2011 08:29 am

We have a group of sites. Each one is a regional alternative serving a different country in Europe. One of our sites got hit in May and is now getting 30-50 visits p/d as opposed to 500. It's not one of our flagships sites, but follows best practice in terms of link building etc. Have filed a request to Google anyway, but in the time it takes for them to reply we might as well start again!


08/03/2011 08:35 am

This is something which even our shopping site faced, really bad on Google's part!!


08/03/2011 09:51 am

thanks for the post....i m taking lesson from this tht google algo is also making some mistakes in tht database......


08/03/2011 10:50 am

how much time it will take to solve this problem any idea

Fionn Downhill

08/04/2011 07:21 pm

Barry what does one do wait or contact them.  This site I am talking about was so weird this bug almost certainly seems like the explanation.


08/09/2011 02:24 pm

All I can say - me too. Now when checking the date of a drop in traffic of one of my websites I see Jul 27.  The issue is that the same drop after some time that website is going well has been inspected on other sites of mine in the last two months. This seems to be something systematic on Google.  This always look the same: a website start going well and then after one, one and half months a sharp drop - bang no income anymore from the website.  This unstable behavior of Google makes me so frustrated that I recently started to doubt if a free traffic and SEO can be the foundation for a business, especially when talking on a new websites, that can't rise up without falling few days later.... I don't believe Google is care about website owners fro earning money from, their websites. After all Google wants us all to be depends on their AdWords for traffic....   I seriously started to consider alternatives... 

Alexander Rook

08/17/2011 12:54 am

Is this what happened to my site for a least 1 week now...usually it is around 800 visit a day now is only around 100 to 200 a day.


10/17/2011 12:40 am

Same for me sudden drop of traffic (50%) to my blog that contains only unique content. Not sure what I can do to restore the previous levels of traffic. Would be interested to hear if anyone got better updates.

Gary Phillips

10/21/2011 04:36 pm

It has happened to my site a few times as well, and especially in the last algo update last week which has taken 60% of my traffic. I have submitted a reconsideration request and am awaiting a response.

Justin Mazza

06/12/2012 01:55 pm

I went from 200 search result visits a day from Google to about 25 -50 a day. Wondering what the heck is going on. Maybe it wasn't my fault. I have never been affected before by an updates. This happened to my search traffic with Google back in the end of May 2012.

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