On April 5th, Google accidentally dropped pages from its search index while it was pushing out an update to its data centers.
Apparently, this only affected a small number of documents, but it was not small enough to go unnoticed by SEOs and site owners.
Google even acknowledged all the social media chatter going on at the time, which helped the company become aware of the issue.
That particular problem was fixed on April 11th, but it created a ripple effect with a number of related errors showing up shortly afterward.
The Search Console Problem
The issue with Google’s search index created problems with reports in Search Console.
Those errors occurred because the reports contain data that originate directly from the search index.
For example, the index coverage report in the Search Console depends on the search index being consistent across data centers.
Google had to pause updating the Search Console database while it was fixing the error with its search index. This resulted in unreliable data for some reports.
Annotations have been added to the affected Search Console reports to make it clear some data might not be accurate.
Changes Going Forward
Google intends to make a number of changes to how it communicates with webmasters going forward.
Those changes include:
- Create a central hub in Search Console where Google can quickly share the latest information about widespread bugs.
- More promptly post to the Search Console data anomalies page when issues occur that will have a long term impact on data.
- Send tweets as quickly as possible to inform webmasters about such issues.
Google cites its handling of the recent indexing issue as an example of its improved communications.