The Curious Case of the DNS Error

While reviewing a client’s Webmaster Tools data yesterday, we came across something rather odd. WMT reported a DNS error on November 14th. A quick manual check of keyword rankings determined a significant loss, yet the analytics data showed a slight drop in organic search traffic between Nov 15th and 16th with a full recovery by the 17th, but keyword rankings are still slow to recover. We resolved to investigate the issue further and found that we weren’t the only ones seeking answers.

Fast forward to today and there’s a slight buzz in the SEO community from those who have noticed similar occurrences among their own sites. Barry Schwartz over at Search Engine Roundtable wrote an article today bringing attention the issue. Although there has been little official word yet, Barry did receive a comment from Google stating that they were not seeing anything unusual.

Could it be a bug on Google’s end?

Dr. Pete over at has suggested it may very well be. In April 2012 there was a Google bug that affected some domains by treating them as parked domains – which resulted in devaluation. There is speculation that this may be a similar case.tin tin

In the discussion at Search Engine Roundtable yesterday over whether or not there was an algorithm update on Nov 14th that could be related to the occurrence of these DNS errors, Dr. Pete wrote:

“A DNS issue at large scale could absolutely affect the index. If Google had a technical problem that caused them to fail to resolve host records, they could interpret that as a site outage and potentially de-index sites temporarily. That’s speculative, but it’s possible. The fact that many of these warnings seem to be false alarms also indicates that something failed on Google’s end.”

At this point there are no solid answers over the cause of these mysterious DNS errors and what, if anything, it has affected. So, if you too have noticed a DNS error on your site from Nov 14th /15th, hold tight and we will report more information on the issue as it becomes available.

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