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GWT Still Pulls Old Pages

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GWT Still Pulls Old Pages MsBree 4/3/13 6:10 AM
I've read the FAQs and searched the help center.   YES

Does anyone know approximately how long it takes for Google to completely drop old pages to reflect new pages in GWT?

Last year, I completely redid my html website and converted it to Wordpress (new design, new url's), with 301's all in place.  Old sitemap deleted, new sitemap uploaded.  The new site went live December 15, 2012. 

Almost 3-1/2 months later, Google is still detecting some old pages (in GWT), BUT my concern is when I click on "Linked from" on these pages (from URL Errors), Google is still pulling them from the old sitemap and old html pages, which no longer exist.

Also, any idea how long it takes to get my rankings back, if at all?  The site has been indexed and new pages appearing on the web, but most of my pages are ranked 400-600+ in the results.  This site is updated with new content and products almost daily since it went live.

Any idea how long it might take Google to sort through all these new pages and realize the old site has been gone for 3-1/2 months?  I believe I read on the forum that it can take several weeks...but several months?

I've never received any messages from Google about spam/backlinks, etc...

Thank you!
Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages Seoer 4/3/13 6:49 AM
It has already happened in the past for GWT to reporting old files no longer existing. This happens when data centers are not perfectly aligned. 

So it may be a temporary issue?

That said, it's worth asking whether your old files and sitemap are returning a 404 (or even better a 410) error code. Is this the case?
Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages MsBree 4/3/13 6:51 AM
Old sitemap and old files are returning 404.
Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages Seoer 4/3/13 9:23 AM
I would probably say this to be a temporary issue. However only TC can get in touch with their local guide eventually asking whether there are specific issue on your site or at GWT level.
Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages MsBree 4/3/13 11:00 AM
Thanks!  I'm presuming TC is affiliated with Google?  I just can't imagine this being a temporary issue for 3-1/2 months already!

Now to figure out why, after 3-1/2 months of the new site being live, my rankings and organic traffic are the absolute pitts.  I'm using a 'Search Engine Ranking Checker', which is part of a FireFox SEO add on.  I've been running it daily, and keep getting outrageous results on the list of keyword phrases I'm testing.  Two days in a row, one keyword phrase would appear on page 6 (used to be in top 10 for years), and then for weeks, it doesn't even show up in the report!  When I check another report, it shows the same keyword phrase at position 689!  Then it appears again on page 6 a few days later and shows it's linking to another page on my website that has absolutely nothing to do with the keyword phrase!

Something strange is definitely going on, and it's really hurt my business tremendously!

I'd appreciate some guidance with trying to get to the root cause of this issue please!
thank you so much!!!
Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages Seoer 4/4/13 2:33 AM
Don't confuse GWT results with web traffic and rankings.

That said, "checking your ranking daily" is absolutely unnecessary but it also infringes the Google Webmaster Guidelines.

As for TC, this stands for Top Contributors and they are person like me that spend their time for free helping other people on the forum but have also a direct communication channel with the Googlers responsible for the specific forum.

Hope that helps.
Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages Robbo 4/4/13 3:51 AM

Hi MsBree

Could you give us a few examples of old URLs that are being redirected to new URLs but the old URLs are still showing in Google search results and/or Webmaster Tools?


Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages MsBree 4/4/13 3:54 AM
Seoer, thank you, and I also appreciate your explanation on TC!  Thank you for all the help you provide to is much appreciated!

I had no idea that checking keyword phrase ranking was against Google Webmaster Guidelines.  If I may ask though, how would I know if a particular page I was working on improving, was in fact helping it's search results if I didn't check it's particular organic page ranking?  This is the only reason I ran the report on a regular basis, to improve a page's quality.

As far as the issue in GWT still pulling non-existent pages, I hope this will resolve itself soon!
thanks again!
Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages MsBree 4/4/13 4:44 AM
Robbo....thank you offering your assistance!  All old URLs have their respective 301's in place and are working just fine.

I have attached 2 images that show what I am trying to explain. 

You can see the 404 URL in the first image; however, when you look at the second image (linked-from), it appears Google still sees the old sitemap.xml that was deleted December 15th, 2012 and replaced with new xml sitemap to reflect all the new url's with the new site design.  It is the latter here that confuses me as to why Google is still pulling non-existent URL's from non-existent pages, to this date, especially from the old sitemap that was deleted months ago.

I hope this makes things a bit clearer.
thank you!
Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages Seoer 4/4/13 5:40 AM

put in this way, as Cutts often says - though this is a phrase used in science and statistic. 

Correlation does not imply causation

So what you do today, unlikely will have effects tomorrow. Obsessively checking your ranking will necessarily distract yourself from something else like making sure you are effectively working for your users offering them a better web site.

It's ok checking your ranking, but do it once in a while, just to know how the situation looks like. That said, you can even use the GWT as it reports the average position of some keywords that users used to reach your site.
In fact, with the location variable in place, knowing your site ranks pos 5 in Alabama (as an example) and not knowing your ranking in New York is somewhat useless if you are a US retailer.
Different is the case if your a local barber shop that only aim to local shoppers.

Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages MsBree 4/4/13 1:49 PM
Seoer....thank you!  Makes perfect sense, and I appreciate the response!  Lesson learned...
Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages Seoer 4/5/13 1:59 AM

re your problem, bear in mind that GWT offer a sort of "historical archive" of sites registered in the platform, hence unless you don't specifically tick an error as solved you it will keep showing weirdness things.

So my question is, have you ever marked those errors as fixed?
Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages MsBree 4/5/13 4:48 AM
Seoer, yes, I have marked those errors fixed many times! 

These errors don't bother me much because I do understand that IF those pages were quality, they should be 301'd, but as far as I'm concerned, the error pages appearing can simply drop off.  All the high ranking pages (400+) have had 301's in place since the newly designed site went live back in December 2012.

My concern is with the second image I had posted.  Dates are showing that Google recently detected them (even though they were deleted back in Dec), and they're linked from pages that don't exist anymore.  I'm confused as to how Google is finding those non-existent 'linked from' pages (mainly the old sitemap.xml) when they were deleted back in December.

Maybe this nothing to worry about...I just thought something might be odd because I read on the forum a few weeks ago that when a website is completely redesigned with all new URLs, Google treats the site like it's a brand new site, and it could take possibly 4 to 6 weeks to sort through it.  After 3-1/2 months of waiting, I'm getting the feeling my site will never see it's high rankings again, and the honeymoon (after almost 12 years) is definitely over!
Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages jscrto 4/5/13 6:31 AM
MsBree, I have exactly the same problem as you. I have thousands of old pages still showing up in GWT, and it's been well over a year now. As part of my Panda recovery efforts, I deleted thousands of old pages quite some ago, 301 redirected thousands of others; and GWT still gives me 404 errors. I recently started to add back a url with a 301 redirect if GWT says that page contains one or more inbound links from an external source. Why? I don't know. I guess it's just out of frustration. BTW, like you, I'm almost non existent in Google's SERPs for just about all my keywords. I used to dominate, now I have to live off my Bing traffic. I believe I'm doing the right things, but it doesn't seem to matter. Also, like you, I will continue to try. Good luck with your efforts.
Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages MsBree 4/5/13 10:21 AM
My sympathies jscrto...I totally understand where you're coming from!  Like you, most of my traffic is coming from Bing and Yahoo, unlike previously where the bulk was coming from Google.  I'm pretty disheartened by Google these days, as I continually see garbage, spammy sites in search results.  I've read so many sad stories about ethical people's lives being turned upside down in a split second and losing everything.  I will continue and hope for the best, but I believe I need to begin focusing more on an off-line presence.  My best to you too...
Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages JohnMu 4/9/13 12:34 AM
Google has a big memory :) -- if we've seen a URL once, we're likely to retry it again and again, especially if we should run across new links to that URL. This isn't something that you really need to worry about, it's absolutely fine and even expected that a website returns 404 for URLs that don't exist. Assuming these are URLs that you don't want to have indexed, then these 404 errors will not negatively affect your site's performance in search. Having 404s is fine. There's a bit more about this at

Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages Marco2013 4/9/13 12:57 AM!category-topic/webmasters/webmaster-tools/XWaV4zlSh_k

I have the same problem with MsBree, and even if 404 errors don't hurt sites, but I can't remove them by mark them as solved day after day, and this really make it difficult to find usable error message from webmaster tools.
Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages jscrto 4/9/13 5:05 AM
It's not the 404 URL that concerns me, it's the parent URL that links to it. I have many of these parents that I have either deleted or restructured (they no longer link to the 404 URLs). They used to be "index" pages which consisted of nothing but links to subordinate pages. For example, a page for Chicago that had nothing but multiple links to individual house listings. Pre Panda, it didn't seem to matter. Post Panda, these URLs hurt because of the thin content. In spite of removing and/or "fattening up" thin content pages, I am still being punished by Panda. So I wonder, if GWT still processes deleted URLs, does Panda do the same making it difficult, if not impossible, to remove the Panda penalty?
Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages MsBree 4/9/13 7:08 AM
JohnMu...thank you for your reply!

Jscrto, I agree with's the parent URL that concerns me, and in my case, is the OLD sitemap.xml that was deleted December 15, 2012, keeps getting detected, that is showing the 404's that don't exist anymore either!

My other BIG concern now with GWT is the "Search Queries", which, if these 'average positions' were true, I'd be post Penguin, where I was one year ago, which was in a very good place dominating the organic search results! 

Maybe someone could explain to me why my site shows up in GWT for average position of 2.0 for 'probiotics for dogs', yet I am nowhere to found for this keyword phrase?  Funny also how GWT shows my average position as being 3.0 for 'dr'....probably one of the most competitive keywords out there (which I certainly do NOT optimize for in any way).  This list goes on and on and on...
Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages jscrto 4/9/13 8:27 AM
Yep, same here regarding GWT seach queries. I wonder is anyone from Google reads this stuff. It would be appropriate for someone of authority to at least confirm or deny the impact of historical (obsolete) pages on Panda/Penguin.

As a side note, yesterday, GWT blessed me with another 500+ 404's. I have to wait until tomorrow to see where they came from since they always seem to be a day behind.
Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages Seoer 4/13/13 2:36 AM

Yep, same here regarding GWT seach queries. I wonder is anyone from Google reads this stuff. It would be appropriate for someone of authority to at least confirm or deny the impact of historical (obsolete) pages on Panda/Penguin.

I bet you didn't look at the icon close to every author who took part to this thread. John Mueller, a Google employee who specifically works in the Google Webmaster Team is the the "public" icon and link between us (webmasters) and the GWT team. 
At the time he came back to MsBree, I'm confident he has taken a note and passed his feedback to the relevant people in order to improve our experience.

However, you have to remember that we are talking about a big corporation where a bit more than one engineer is working on a platform and problems in Google are tackled in a way they can be scaled up properly so to have the less (negative) impact when changes are made.

I'm not sure you are familiar with coding, but the many billions lines of code in the Google sphere can be quite problematic to be managed as a whole and every change needs testing and proper understanding.

So, it's impossible to get everything happening in a couple of seconds.

Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages jscrto 4/13/13 5:10 AM
You are correct Seoer, I did not look at the icons. Thank you for pointing that out. Also, I do realize Google is a huge organization, and there are billions of lines of code to maintain. However, a time period in excess of one year does exceed a couple of seconds in my book.
Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages Seoer 4/13/13 10:27 PM
Well, it's not just a couple of lines of code, but also a matter of priorities and what else the engineers are working on.

When you do a software you use personally, quite often you don't care about code efficiency, testing and debugging but you exploit and explore everything on the go.
Whereas all these "redundant" things are a must on Google premises.

Not just to defend them, but having somewhat a good experience in programming, and working for big customer on different levels, I do know all this time consuming implications.
Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages MsBree 4/28/13 8:33 AM
I'd like to go back and address one of my original questions:  Also, any idea how long it takes to get my rankings back, if at all?  The site has been indexed and new pages appearing on the web, but most of my pages are ranked 400-600+ in the results.  This site is updated with new content and products almost daily since it went live.

After 4-1/2 months of the newly completely revamp of my website and switching from html to Wordpress, still none of my pages are coming up in google search for any of my keyword phrases (that were dominated for 10 plus years), even though these new pages are indexed.

Does anyone know how long this process takes?  I was initially told last year, and I read it on this forum in several threads, to be patient, that it could take 4 to 6 weeks (maybe even up to 3 months) for my pages to begin showing for my keywords and keyword phrases, but after 4-1/2 months, still nothing!

I work on the site daily, adding new unique content regularly that I know google picks up in the xml sitemap.  I strictly adhere to Google's Webmaster Guidelines.

If anyone has any idea why Google no longer likes my site and content, I'd appreciate some feedback.
thanks so much!
Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages jscrto 4/28/13 9:50 AM

MsBree, it seems like you and I have the exact same problem, along with thousands of others. I wasn’t going to say anything more until I got some definitive results; but since you made this post, I will share my efforts to date. First, like you, I restructured my site by consolidating thin content pages, removing a lot of template boilerplate and removing excessive advertising. BTW, much of the excessive advertising, Adsense 300x250, was inserted above the fold because the Adsense people recommended this to me a few years ago.

I reduced the size of my site from 20k+ pages to 3k+. Most of the 17k+ pages were deleted, but many were left on my server as orphan pages (no internal inbound links).  Then, like you, I waited. I checked many obscure keywords, and my positions remained at 400-600. My pages were picked up and indexed, but I still showed no improvement in the SERPs. After reading this thread and thinking about all the “old” stuff still showing up in my GWT reports, I changed all the orphan and deleted pages to 301 redirects, created text files containing 17k+ urls and submitted to GWT site maps.

As of today, a little over 3k of the redirect urls have been indexed, and I’m starting to see some improvement in the SERPs. I now rank no. 1 for one of my obscure keywords. Even though no one would ask for this kw, I am finally starting to get some results for my efforts. I will keep this thread informed as I get more results.

If this current effort resolves my problem, it would illustrate that one cannot simply delete (or “orphanize”) Panda problem pages. They have to be fixed in some way prior to removing them.

Finally, getting back to excessive advertising, if I am being punished by Google for doing something they told me to do, shame on them. And I don’t want to hear about how they are a large organization, and how one can’t expect yada yada… If what I suspect is true, they hurt thousands of people in addition to me.

Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages MsBree 4/28/13 10:15 AM
@ jscrto...nice to see you again, and I'm so happy to read you're finally beginning to see some improvement.  Do you feel that it has to do with your setting up the 301's on all those pages?  Before my redesigned site went live on December 15th, I had already processed approximately 400+ 301's in my .htaccess file.  I was truly prepared to go live when I did.  It took me and my team almost 4 months to go through each and every page of the site with a fine tooth comb to fix what may have been wrong and optimize as best as we could, according to Google White Hat's updated standards.  I'm not saying I ever used any Black Hat techniques, because I never did...what I mean is that I truly gave each and every updated page the best SEO optimization (alt tags, no more meta keyword phrases, bla, bla, bla) and readability for the visitor I knew how. 

Now when I occasionally search google for some of my 'used-to-be' top ranking keyword phrases, I see junk, junk and more junk and pages after pages with mega keyword phase spamming, along with a host of other NO NO's.  But who am I to judge anyone else's website when, for whatever reason, google must think my entire site is garbage with no value at all to anyone!  Enough of my ranting here...

I just wish someone could tell me what's wrong, if there is anything wrong!

Wishing you all the best @ jscrto, and I sincerely hope you continue to see more and more improvement as time goes on!
Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages jscrto 4/28/13 2:38 PM
MsBree, I simply wanted to point out that you may need to look at things that aren't there. In my case it is (hopefully) pages that I deleted and/or orphaned. If GWT still pulls old pages, I suspect Panda does the same. By putting the 301'd urls into a site map, I'm hoping Google will update all the old garbage, thereby eliminating the Panda penalty. If I'm right, I will see improvement over time. If not, oh well.
Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages MsBree 4/29/13 9:06 AM
@ jscrto..I definitely am looking at other things, and like you, continually work on the site every day to improve it's quality and uniqueness!  I will probably take my dilemma over to the crawling, indexing and ranking section of this forum as I've gotten a bit off topic here!

On the topic here of GWT, I have noticed that Crawl Errors hasn't updated in 4 days, since Thursday, April 25th, which I find is very unusual.  Perhaps some updates are going on back there, a good thing!

Keep up the good work jscrto, as I will!
Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages jscrto 4/29/13 9:59 AM
Good luck and stay in touch.
Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages MsBree 5/11/13 7:05 AM
Another issue I've recently discovered in my GWT, as I've been working feverishly and around the clock cleaning up backlinks.

Under 'Links to Your site' under the 'Traffic' tab, there are still many websites listed with 'Total links' numbers (some high), whose domains no longer exist, along with pages to these domains that were deleted months ago.  Unfortunately, these deleted pages don't show 404's, and the domains seem to be redirected to parked domains.

Do these non-existent backlinks showing up in GWT have any negative effect on how Google sees my site?

How long does it normally take for these sites to fall off of this report?

If they don't automatically fall off, how can I go about removing them from GWT?
Re: GWT Still Pulls Old Pages jscrto 5/11/13 7:36 AM
I disavowed those types of links a couple of months ago, and they still appear on my GWT report. I don't believe there is anything else that can be done, and I don't believe these have any negative effect. However, I do wish Google would somehow flag disavowed links on the reports so we could filter them out. It would make the task of analyzing the other links a lot easier.
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