Websites are removed from search results by Google Weekend Ranking Bug, but just on weekends; on Mondays, the websites are returned.
There has been talk in many Google support forum threads about a potential algorithmic glitch that makes some generic top-level domains (gTLDs) disappear from search engine results pages (SERPs). The Google Weekend Ranking Bug was reported by several publications with the same type of gTLD.
What unites them all is the kind of domain name and their total elimination from Google’s search engine results pages over the weekend, with a few even failing to show for their site names.
Discussions in various Google support forums highlighted a potential bug in the algorithm of Google, which caused certain generic top-level domains (gTLDs) to vanish from SERP. Several publishers with similar gTLD have reported the same problem with weekend ranking.
The only common thing among these publishers is the domain name, with some of them not able to it even find their site name on weekends apart from the rankings.
Olesia Korobka raised awareness of this problem in a tweet. He showed a graph where the traffic to the website crashed during the weekend but returned to normal on Mondays. This issue started in November.
The ICANN-era generic top-level domains, or gTLDs, are impacted by these problems. These domains include. Academy,.car,.care, and so forth.
Questions have been raised about whether this problem was linked to quality issues since such a factor should affect the site all days of the week, month, and not only on weekends. The Google Ranking bug was limited to only certain types of domains and affected only on weekends.
Questions about whether this was a cyclical issue were also analyzed since there are reasonable reasons to believe that traffic goes down on weekends. But here, it is not just the traffic. Even the rankings declined, making it seem that some re-indexing was done on weekends.
Google Weekend Ranking Error
The individual who posted the Google support query provided 14 URLs of other help threads about gTLDs that were having the same issues; nine of the 14 URLs, or 64% of the total, were dated January 2024, while the oldest was posted on November 24, 2023.
Although there is no guarantee this is an exhaustive list of support threads on the subject, it does seem remarkable that so many from this year are exhibiting the same peculiar pattern of weekend de-indexing and that it is affecting these keyword gTLDs.
Why are websites going down on weekends?
There is an ancient problem dating back to Google’s early days: a domain would become trapped in a ranking cycle, being de-indexed for a month, then returning for a week, and then disappearing entirely, not even ranking for its domain name. It occurred in 2003 or 2004, and the problem was that the domain had a history of spam, which would not go away.
Google did not acknowledge the problem until 20 years later.
John Mueller, CEO of Google, said of the Legacy Domain Penalty:
“The other thing that I have rarely seen is that a website gets stuck in a weird in-between state in our systems. At some point, Google’s algorithms reviewed the website and found it in bad shape. Whatever the reason, those portions of the algorithms just took a long time to be updated again.”
Although there are similarities between gTLD rank, crash patterns and the legacy domain penalty, I believe they are not the same issue.
The gTLD weekend rank crashing appears to be primarily limited to keyword gTLD domains, which are not related to previous spam. It is not a quality problem because Google does not address quality issues this way.
The issue appears to be a flaw in Google’s systems, presumably triggered by something new inserted into their algorithms around the end of November and now having an unexpected consequence.