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After being in fourth position for more than a year, our e-commerce site rankings took a dive around the beginning of May of this year.

Our catalog pages started disappearing from Google's index, and on top of that, Google seems to be showing wrong cached page for many of our previously highly-ranking catalog pages.

Here are a few examples, where Google apparently stores the exact same "New Arrivals" category page in its cache, regardless of the actual URL:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:https://www.justforkix.com/dance-costumes/cat

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:https://www.justforkix.com/dance-shoes/cat

…and many more.

What am I missing here?

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There are several problems with your site that are not immediately apparent, but they do exist - and they're common for e-commerce sites. A full site audit may reveal more issues. Here are a few you can fix, to get started.

First of all, you mentioned you started seeing problems in May of this year. There's a very good chance that Google updated their algorithm, crawled your site, and downgraded a bunch of pages. Google no longer has occasional large updates; they release updates regularly throughout the year. You might have been impacted by one of these updates.

  1. As an e-commerce site, I would recommend not letting search engines cache your content. Your products may change: they may sell out, photos may change, prices, descriptions, reviews, etc. Setting the noarchive meta tag on all your pages will take care of your archiving problem: <meta name="robots" content="noarchive">

  2. Running the site:justforkix.com search query, you appear to have 12,300 results. Does that sound right? If you don't have that many website pages, you may have a problem with duplicate and outdated content. I suggest going through your site, finding things you can noindex (tag archives, content taxonomies you don't want in the index), and cleaning up any pages that go to a 404.

  3. Your canonical tags are not the same as your URL tags. This is your URL: https://www.justforkix.com/dance-shoes/cat - but this is your canonical tag URL: https://www.justforkix.com/dance-shoes/cat?show=all . Google sees that as two separate pages. Make sure that your canonical tags point to the URL you want to see in the index. (This is a common issue with some content management systems, which automatically generate canonicals for all pages, including dynamic pages with parameters.)

  4. If this is your XML sitemap, it's not valid XML: https://www.justforkix.com/sitemap.xml - try to generate an actual XML sitemap and place it at that URL.

  5. Check your Search Console or your Bing Webmaster Tools for any alerts. Re-submit your sitemap. (But update it to valid XML first!) Then use an SEO tool like Screaming Frog to run a technical SEO audit and figure out where you might have issues.

  6. Run your home page URL through Moz's Open Site Explorer. See all those directories and spam sites (Alexandra's Massage, etc.) linking to you? If you bought links from them, that could have earned you a penalty. Start working on getting those spam links removed.

  • I had to come back and tell you what a nicely detailed answer you have left. Cheers!! – closetnoc Jul 29 '17 at 0:56
  • Thank you, @closetnoc ! Happy to contribute to this community and help out -- as well as learn from -- fellow SEO's and webmasters. – Henry Visotski Jul 29 '17 at 4:59
  • I like it here too. I am not sure exactly what it is, however, it seems to me that webmasters are about the nicest people you can know. That and proctologists. I stay away from them though. – closetnoc Jul 29 '17 at 5:17
  • Hahah yes, it's a fortunate thing not to require the services of one! – Henry Visotski Jul 30 '17 at 23:16

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