I had a site that ranked in the top 3 positions for one keyword and in the top 6 positions for another.
At the beginning of October, both terms dropped radically from the search results.
I had recently changed the .htaccess file to stop redirecting 404 errors back to the home page.
This resulted in the following:
- Some old links to non-SEO optimised pages were being reported as crawl errors in Google Webmaster Tools.
- Old pages which had been renamed over the last year were being crawled by googlebot because of the redirect removal back to the homepage.
Also, I noticed that the pages containing the keywords were not included in the Internal Links in Google Webmaster Tools anymore.
I have set up 301 redirects for the crawl errors and 301 redirects for the updated file names and I am waiting for Google Webmaster Tools to clear the crawl errors and for googlebot to start crawling the correct pages. However, I am worried that there is more of a problem for the keyword rankings than the pages errors.
Is there any way of determining if the site has been punished for certain keywords?