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http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67)

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http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) Dean Rowe 4/3/12 11:08 AM
I have read the FAQs and checked for similar issues: Yes

My site's URL (web address) is: http://us.burberry.com

Hi,

A few days ago I noticed that our US homepage (us.burberry.com) had dropped from PR5 to PR0, and the page has been deindexed by Google. After checking Webmaster Tools I also received the following message:

http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL      April 2, 2012
Search results clicks for http://us.burberry.com/ have decreased significantly.
Message ID: 593f1ceb2d67.

We're not doing any link building at all (we've enough on-site issues to deal with).
The only changes I have made are adding Google Analytics to the website, uploading sitemaps via Webmaster Tools (it's not linked to from robots.txt yet), and setting the burberry.com and www.burberry.com geo-location settings to 'unlisted' (we want uk.burberry.com appearing in the UK results, us.burberry.com appearing in the US results etc rather than www.burberry.com).

I've reversed the geo-location settings but I doubt this would have caused this. We've duplicate copies of our homepage (such as us.burberry.com/store//) from typos in inbound links (and bad programming that allows them to work rather than 404'ing) but I don't think any of this is new. 

What I don't understand is (a) why this is happening now and (b) why is this just affecting our US homepage? We've ~40 different duplicates of the homepage (us, uk, ca, pt, ro, sk etc etc) so why is the US site being affected and not the others? Does anyone know if this is due to an algorithm change by Google or something else all together? 

Background:
Our website www.burberry.com has 46 subdomains such as uk.burberry.com, ca.burberry.com and us.burberry.com. There is a lot of duplicate content on each subdomain and across subdomains (uk.burberry.com/store & us.burberry.com/store are exactly the same), there's very little text on the site (its nearly all images), as well as poor redirects, inaccessible content (AJAX/Flash) and a whole host of basic SEO things that aren't being done correctly. I've joined the company in the last few months and have started addressing these issues but I've got a LOT of work to do yet.

One thing that we have in our favour is a link profile that is as clean and natural as they come - there was only ever one link building campaign performed (which was before my time) and I had all of those links removed as soon as I joined the company.

Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks for your time

Dean Rowe
Re: http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) Phil Payne 4/3/12 11:27 AM
http://www.us.burberry.com cannot be a Google target because you have 301 redirected it to http://us.burberry.com/store/

Moreover the server returns a curious string:

(1F,8B,08,00,00,00,00,00,00,03)m(8E,BD,0E,82)@(10,84){(9E)b(A5,97)E(ED,CC)z(85,80,D1)D(94,E2),,(0F)Xs&(9C)G(8E,C3,84,B7,97,9F,D6)rf(BE,9D)YZ(A5,F7)D>(8B,0C,CE)2(BF)B(F1)8^/(HT)(84)k(C4)K&O(88,A9)L(97)d(1B,C5,88,D9)-(14,01)io(1A)A(9A)U=(LF)
(FF,F6)(CR)
(8B)](BC,81,DC)~(B9,86,82,9D)Q(1F,FE,F8)f·\(C2,80)p(86,A9,B4,F5)0(DD)o(C4,1F)vt(03)j(85,D4,0C,B5,AD)z3(DA,A0)U(07)fFI(81)v(FC):(84,DA,FB)v(8F,D8)wQ(D9,BB,92,9D,1B,A2,CA,1A,EC,BC)u(8C,A1,D0,EC,98)P(89,88,B0,9D,86,E7,C9,B1)|z9(F8,01,18)h(A6)~(ED,00,00,00)
Re: http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) Dean Rowe 4/3/12 12:32 PM
Thanks for the reply Phil. Yes you are correct, however I stated the URL without '/store/' for debugging purposes - if you perform a site search for the uk (site:uk.burberry.com) then that URL without the /store/ appears in Google's index at the very top (but when clicked it redirects to '/store/').

It's been the same for all subdomains except in the last few days us.burberry.com has been deindexed.

How did you retrieve that string please Phil? Which URL did you request
Re: http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) Phil Payne 4/3/12 12:37 PM
 http://www.rexswain.com/httpview.html  asking for http://us.burberry.com

Dean Rowe 4/3/12 1:36 PM <This message has been deleted.>
Re: http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) Dean Rowe 4/3/12 1:47 PM
Thanks Phil, looks a useful tool - I'll look into that string - however as the same string occurs on all subdomains it doesn't explain why only the US subdomain has been deindexed but not the others. Thanks again for your time. 
Grandmaster Flash 4/3/12 2:32 PM <This message has been deleted.>
Re: http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) Dean Rowe 4/3/12 3:05 PM
Hi thericker,

Thanks for your reply. I may be seeing different results to you but I don't see http://us.burberry.com/store/ being indexed - if you can see it please can you post the search query you are using and the page it appears on (I'm using 'site:us.burberry.com')

Regarding 301's - I think this is just a Google rule in general as other sites that 301 from the root to another URL still show the root in the index, and aren't experiencing the same problem as our site. http://usa.loccitane.com is an example of a site that 301 redirect but Google displays the root URL in its index (site:http://usa.loccitane.com)

Again as its the same 301 on all subdomains it doesn't explain why this specific URL has been deindexed. 

DeIndexing what is effectively the homepage of our US subdomain is quite a big thing for Google to have done, really curious as to what Google thinks we are doing wrong as we genuinely aren't doing any spam link building of the sort, we're not doing ANY link building!

Thanks again for your time guys, really appreciate it. 

Dean

Re: http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) Dean Rowe 4/3/12 3:48 PM
Within Webmaster Tools I've fetched the http://us.burberry.com/store/ URL (successfully, there's no technical issues with Google fetching the URL) and submitted to Index. Not confident in this working but worth a try. If anyone has any more info on this  593f1ceb2d67 error then please let me know. Thanks, Dean.
Grandmaster Flash 4/3/12 4:09 PM <This message has been deleted.>
Re: http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) Grandmaster Flash 4/3/12 4:13 PM
If you caught me earlier comment, I just embarrassed myself:P

I could have sworn I saw /store/ indexed but now I'm not. Apparently I need a coffee
I'll continue to dig around.
Re: http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) JohnMu 4/3/12 10:56 PM
Hi Dean

We're currently seeing the UK and the US versions as being identical, and picking one of them (in this case, the UK version) for indexing. A great way to resolve this is to make sure that they're really unique. Another solution could be to use geotargeting in Webmaster Tools (if you aren't using it already), and to use the "link rel=alternate hreflang" construct to make sure that we understand the relationship between your UK and US pages. You can find out more about this at http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=189077

If you have the same kind of content for other regions (maybe German across the German-speaking countries? or other English-speaking countries?) then I'd recommend expanding that to those versions as well. 

Hope it helps!

John
Re: http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) Grandmaster Flash 4/3/12 10:59 PM
Dean,

I'm back with a few observations

When I visit Burberry.com in Chrome, javascript and cookies on I am currently being forwarded to qa.burberry.com (Qatar) which is odd since I'm in the US. I am not seeing this phenomenon on Firefox or Opera. This was from a computer that had not been previously cookied (that I'm aware of).

Googlebot is being 302 redirected from http://www.burberry.com/store/http://www.burberry.com/store/burberry/global/regionSet.jsp which does not seem desirable

It sure feels to me like geo-targeting has gone awry somewhere and us.burberry.com has been categorized as a duplicate page as one of the other subdomains.

Language version pages such as: http://us.burberry.com/store/?locale=fr_US I see the canonical tag in place but this is an area where duplication of content could be easy

Have you tried "Fetch as Googlebot"? no doubt but worth asking

Saw your question posted on SEOmoz as well, hoping we can find the issue faster:)





















Re: http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) Grandmaster Flash 4/3/12 11:00 PM
Thanks John!
Re: http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) Dean Rowe 4/4/12 1:42 AM
Thanks John. We're already geo-targeting in Webmaster Tools so I will endeavour to add the hreflang links asap, and try to make each homepage unique as quickly as possible (although this part is easier said than done). A quick follow up question please...  Because you mention its caused by duplicate content - is it definitely caused by duplication of the same page across multiple subdomains (UK & US homepages being duplicated) or could it be caused by duplication of the US homepage by other US URL's? For example:

We have lots of old links to old URL's and our web application is responding with a 200 response and incorrectly serve the homepage content - generating duplicate versions of the homepage:

These links are predominantly inherent to our US subdomain, so our US homepage has far more duplicates than say our UK homepage - I've put a temporary quick fix in place in the form of a canonical tag, but I'm wondering if this could be the reason why the US homepage has been DeIndexed, or is it definitely a 'we've picked the UK version over the US version' situation? (presumably its not specifically the UK, it could be the http://pt.burberry.com/store/ causing the problem too?)

Thanks again for your time John, really appreciate it

Dean
Re: http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) JohnMu 4/4/12 2:19 AM
Hi Dean

Those duplicate URLs generally wouldn't be a problem as we try to recognize soft-404 situations and handle them appropriately. Naturally, I think fixing these kinds of issues if you're aware of them is a good practice regardless :). If these are URLs which used to exist but no longer do (or which are just invalid), then returning a 404 would be the best response here. Using a 301 redirect or, if that's not possible, the rel=canonical are both good ways of handling it if these are just normal alternate URLs. 

Cheers
John
Re: http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) Dean Rowe 4/4/12 5:08 AM
Thanks John. Would Google not pick these up as duplicate content rather than a soft-404?  The above URL's serve completely identical content to the homepage so I don't know how Google could tell they are erroneous pages instead of duplicate pages?

Thanks again for your help on understanding this error code.

Dean
Dean Rowe 4/4/12 6:45 AM <This message has been deleted.>
Re: http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) JohnMu 4/4/12 7:11 AM
Hi Dean

Technically, the link element is not a meta tag, so it wouldn't apply to that :). In practice, it's a bit more complicated. We don't use the link-alternate-hreflang construct for geotargeting in that it doesn't promote local results (like normal geotargeting might). However, the ultimate effect is somewhat similar, since we use it to swap out the best match from a list of alternatives should any one of them show up in search results. 

With regards to the soft-404s/duplicate-content-URLs, the final result is very similar and depends a bit on the URLs that we find on your site. If we see a large number of them showing the contents of the homepage (or even redirecting to it), we would probably assume that's a soft-404 and focus on the homepage. If we see a handful of them showing the same content - and perhaps other URLs on the site showing normal 404 errors - then we might see that as duplicate content, which we'd try to combine with the homepage. In both situations, we'll try to focus on the homepage once our algorithms determine that these alternatives do not need to be indexed separately.

Cheers
John
Re: http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) Dean Rowe 4/4/12 10:42 AM
Thank you very much indeed John, you've been incredibly helpful. A final question please to clarify your recommended hreflang solution... the help guide states the canonical tag is 'optional'. I understand canonicals to be an instruction to Google to help remove duplicates so putting a canonical tag on the US homepage (linking to the UK homepage) to me feels like an instruction to Google to remove the US site because its a duplicate of the UK (please let me know if I've misunderstood this). Even though the content across the UK & US URLs are mostly duplicates (the title tags and meta descriptions are being localised soon) the pricing of products is different (it costs more to buy in one country over another, not just exchange rates) so I don't want to encourage Google to serve one set of content (the canonical) to multiple countries - therefore it feels like we'd be best suited to NOT include a canonical on our pages, like this:

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-GB” href=”http://uk.burberry.com/store/” />
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-US” href=”http://us.burberry.com/store/” />
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”es-ES” href=”http://es.burberry.com/store/” />

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-GB” href=”http://uk.burberry.com/store/” />
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-US” href=”http://us.burberry.com/store/” />
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”es-ES” href=”http://es.burberry.com/store/” />

Please let me know if I've understood this as the correct recommendation? I also understand self referencing hreflangs are fine... but are self referencing canonicals also ok? eg:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://us.burberry.com/store/"/>
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-GB” href=”http://uk.burberry.com/store/” />
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-US” href=”http://us.burberry.com/store/” />
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”es-ES” href=”http://es.burberry.com/store/” />

<link rel="canonical" href="http://uk.burberry.com/store/"/> 
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-GB” href=”http://uk.burberry.com/store/” />
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-US” href=”http://us.burberry.com/store/” />
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”es-ES” href=”http://es.burberry.com/store/” />

(a) this should hopefully firm up the instruction NOT to remove it as a duplicate and (b) many sites (including our own) already include self referencing canonical tags because its normally easier to develop that way. Should self-referencing canonicals cause any issues? (hreflangs would be added only when the URL matches the canonical URL). If it does cause problems then I'll make sure we remove the canonical from canonical pages - hope that made sense!

Thanks again for your time John, you've been a godsend on a subject that hasn't (based on my search-foo) been covered very much.

Best regards

Dean
Re: http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) JohnMu 4/5/12 6:44 AM
Hi Dean

Either of these would work. Personally, I'm a big fan of not changing too much at once, so I'd probably tend towards just adding the rel-alternate-hreflang first, and then adding the rel=canonical (with the UK version pointing to the UK version, and the US version pointing to the US version) if you find that you still need it. 

Cheers
John
Re: http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) Dean Rowe 4/5/12 7:30 AM
John, thank you so much for your help - it's really appreciated, thank you.

We already have the canonicals in place so I'll leave them there for now and add in the rel-alternate-hreflang.

Thanks again John

Dean
Re: http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) cristina 4/5/12 7:50 AM
The Google cache of us.your-site.com from 2 April is actually of uk.your-site.com, probably as John wrote because of similar content...
I think the fact that you redirect 301 the home page to the /store/ folder might confuse Googlebot, because the 301 redirect tells search engines to index the URL destination of the redirects, that is a bit confusing in this case, when the URL source of the redirect is the home page, because Google likes to index the home page URL.
Maybe try a 302 redirect from the home page, or try the DirectoryIndex directive in .htaccess, or even better, put some good content on the home page URL.
Another thing, it might not be important, is that your robots.txt starts with a BOM (Byte Order Mark).
Re: http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) Dean Rowe 4/5/12 9:04 AM
Thanks Cristina, I noticed the cache this morning and felt that was further confirmation of John's analysis and gave me a lot more confidence that this is the problem rather than any internal duplication (eg us.burberry.com/store//) or removal due to any perceived bad links. Great spot.

Completely agree, I hate the 301 redirect and '/store/' is essentially gumf - its for removal as part of a wider project, at the moment its too ingrained in too many system (such as SSL) to change or alter immediately. Great eye on the BOM - that's not something I picked up on until I saw the ? in WMT's, it doesn't normally come up in normal browsers. (again, great spot on the debugging! whatever debugging checklist you're using, please drop me a line - I would love to know your process)

Thanks Cristina

Dean
Re: http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) Pelagic 4/5/12 10:18 AM
Hi Dean, I commented about your issue over on G+
Re: http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) Joe Youngblood 4/5/12 1:06 PM
Dean,

Take John's advice and get the HREFLANG installed asap. Google launched support for this to deal with situations like yours and likely started combining these pages shortly after that announcement. In this case the webpages are 99.98% identical, that .02% being the name of the nation that accessed the page (united states vs. united kingdom). Personally I would think that consumers in the UK and consumers in the USA would respond to different designs, copy and fashion differently. 

To avoid future headaches from engines that dont recognized HREFLANG you might consider making the content on the subdomains different from each other.


Re: http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) suzukik. 4/5/12 1:41 PM
Hi John,

You say:
Either of these would work.

 So, you mean self-referencing rel="caonical" is OK. But the help document says like this:
Step 1: Pick a canonical version of each page 

Because the English URLs all contain basically the same content, you can use rel="canonical" to identify your preferred version of the content—the URL you want Google to index and display to users by default. Pick the URL the best reflects the actual locale of the page's main content. In the example above, because the three English-language pages vary only slightly, you can pick any one as canonical. For our example, we'll use http://www.example.com/ as the canonical English-language version of the page.

It seems to me this instruction tells us to point rel="canonical" to one preferred URL not to self-referencing URL.
 
To be or not to be 4/5/12 5:05 PM <This message has been deleted.>
Re: http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) lcg79 4/18/12 4:13 PM
Hi John,

I changed by SEO company back in November. Things seemed to be going really well until about a month ago when my rankings and traffic fell dramatically.

I've just been into my webmaster tools where it says http://www.furnitureplusonline.co.uk/: Big traffic change for top URL and 

Search results clicks for http://www.furnitureplusonline.co.uk/ have decreased significantly.

Details

Message ID: 593f1ceb2d67. Please include this ID in any messages you post in our Help forum.

Do you have any idea why this happening? My SEO company have told me its down to google moving the goal posts....

Is there problems with my site?


Any info would be appreciated.


Thanks

Re: http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) seo101 4/18/12 4:32 PM
Start your own thread rather than hijack this one.
Re: http://us.burberry.com/: Big traffic change for top URL (error 593f1ceb2d67) Danielhaim1 4/18/12 8:23 PM
Thanks for sharing Dean.
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