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My client's website website that was well established for some very competitive keywords had some technical hiccups for a week or so.

"Upgrade your browser" page got cached at the server side and somehow got served to all the users visiting the site. This resulted in a 98% bounce rate and an average time spent of 15 seconds compared to 24% and 4.33mins respectively. None of us noticed this as everyone was logged in :(.

We discovered this yesterday as all of a sudden the high ranking pages are nowhere to be found.

There's a mass panic as they had spent thousands on getting the SEO right. My question is that what can we do to recover this website now? Or, can this website be recovered or will it stay in oblivion forever?

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    It should all come back just fine. You were just serving the wrong page. Once Google fetches your pages again, the process will begin anew. You are not penalized. This happens to just about everyone somewhere along the line. It will take time for the pages to make their way through the SERPs to where they should rank. It could take weeks or months on a per page basis, however, everything should be fine in the end. Cheers!! – closetnoc May 20 '16 at 2:51
  • @closetnoc Sounds positive. Can you please answer the question so that I can mark it as accepted answer. How long do you reckon it will take (if it ever happened to you)? It took just Google less than a week to bury it from position 1 - 3 (beating a lot of big brands) to nowhere. Sorry for breaking the commenting rules (if I did) but I am in the middle of a massive panic at the moment. – Anon May 20 '16 at 3:06
  • I just did a url search and the page has been completely removed from Google's index. – Anon May 20 '16 at 3:26
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    Actually, I am sure it is not gone from the index, it is just filtered. Almost nothing is actually removed from the index really without a penalty such as Panda and that takes a fair amount of time. Google realizes that mistakes are made and will often drop some pages during the SERP filter processes. You can check this using Google Search Console. If this is the case, then you likely will see the page recover more quickly. – closetnoc May 20 '16 at 3:40
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This happens to just about everyone somewhere along the line. I had made a bad/silly mistake in an algorithm that detected bad bots and resulted in about 24,000 pages that told Google that it was a bad bot. Kinda funny when you think about it!

You are not penalized.

Your pages rank should all come back just fine. You were just serving the wrong page. Once Google fetches your pages again, the process will begin anew.

It will take time for the pages to make their way through the SERPs to where they should rank. It could take weeks or months on a per page basis, however, everything should be fine in the end.

The recovery speed depends upon how fresh or important Google thinks the pages are. Most of mine came back fairly quickly and some took about two months. I never really lost rank through the process. The only thing I really did was confuse Google.

For pages that are most important, I suggest using Googles Fetch as Google and Submit to Index options. There is a limit per day; the last I looked it was 500 pages. I do not recommend maxing this out. However, you can spread out quite a few fetches and submits over a week. Keep in mind, that the fetch and submit is sorta temporary until the regular googlebot visits the page 1-2 days later.

When this happens, the ranking process begins again. It can take a while to fill in all the ranking metrics, however, as long as nothing has really changed, the SERP results should be the same as before. It may take a while since CTR, Bounce Rate and other metrics can take time to recover. If you remember your college math, think if a rolling average.

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  • It's just a two page website. One page (the important one) got buried because of low engagement and I just submitted to index as something clicked after reading your first comment. – Anon May 20 '16 at 3:36
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    This might be a good time to begin creating content for the site. I found that simple single page websites can rank well, however, sites with just a few pages seem to have a harder time. Bang out about a dozen pages all focused on product, service, industry, people, with Products, Services, About, Contact, and as much mark-up as fits and you should be smokin' in no time! – closetnoc May 20 '16 at 3:45
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Identify the reason for the penalty. Remove the backlink which led to your rankings drop and disavow the ones which you cannot remove.Download all the backlinks from google webmaster tools and use the favorite seo tool to get more information about your links.

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