I recently started working for a new company and they have a lot of white label sites. Just last week I checked Google Webmaster Tools for one of our bigger in-house white label sites (one we personally run) and discovered that Google removed it from the index, though we never got a message in Webmaster Tools. I also performed a site:operator search just to be sure and it definitely isn't listed anymore.

Finding out a little bit more about the site, I discovered it was changed to pretty much be an exact match of our main site and that it used to have canonical tags but they were removed. Not sure why.

I don't have a lot of experience with white labels, so I guess this is more of a general help question, though I was specifically wondering if putting back the canonical tags that were previously removed would be enough.

  • 2
    Is the site that is removed a copy of another site? Can it be considered the original site that the branded sites are mirroring? White label sites are essentially pure duplicate content and an ideal candidate for removal from Google's index.
    – John Conde
    Jan 17 '14 at 20:40
  • The white label site that was removed from the index isn't the original branded site. It was originally differentiated from the main branded site but I'm pretty sure it was turned into a pure copy. The thing is we had canonical tags pointing back to original website that it was copied from and it seemed like that might have been working originally.
    – user35306
    Jan 17 '14 at 21:24
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    If that's a pure copy then it will stay removed from the index. There is no point in having two copies of the exact same thing on the Internet, is there? What would be the purpose really? Jan 19 '14 at 4:05
  • If you used rel=canonical to point to the main site, then it's working as expected: the rel=canonical tells Google to only index the main site. That's a good way of keeping separate sites up, and a good way of making sure that search engines focus on your main site instead of getting confused by the copies. Jan 21 '14 at 21:27
  • I really appreciate the help guys. But just so you are all aware, I discovered that the problem was actually something else. The canonical issues didn't help but that doesn't seem to be the real problem. Still, thanks again.
    – user35306
    Jan 23 '14 at 1:01

I discovered it was changed to pretty much be an exact match of our main site and that it used to have canonical tags but they were removed.

That's most likely why the site was removed. As Google states here:

Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.

Once the canonical links were removed, Google might have thought this exact matching copy of your main site was a deliberate attempt to manipulate search results:

In the rare cases in which Google perceives that duplicate content may be shown with intent to manipulate our rankings and deceive our users, we'll also make appropriate adjustments in the indexing and ranking of the sites involved. As a result, the ranking of the site may suffer, or the site might be removed entirely from the Google index, in which case it will no longer appear in search results.

You can try adding the canonical links back to the site, then add it to Google Webmaster Tools (if not already) and resubmit it using the Fetch as Google tool. It might take some time before it's re-indexed...

However, your best bet would be to significantly modify the content of the site first so that Google would no longer consider it to be a duplicate of your main site.

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