Last week my site was utterly pummeled in Google's rankings - losing 95% of impressions overnight according to Google Webmaster Tools. It now only shows up if you search for the URL/site name itself.
I've not engaged in any shady link-building (or indeed any link-building at all!) and the site is technically fine (fast pages, no malware, fully responsive). So my first guess is that I'm being penalized for duplicate content. Although there's a huge amount of rich content on the site, there's also a lot of algorithmically-generated pages - for example, one for each town in the UK. (This isn't done for SEO, but I guess maybe Google thinks it is.)
So I need to stop Googlebot finding, and objecting to, this content.
I would rather do it via a meta tag (
<meta name="googlebot" content="noindex" />) on the relevant pages than with using robots.txt.
So my question are:
- Is a meta tag a workable alternative to using robots.txt for hiding "problematic" content?
- Is there anything else I should be doing?