You have to leave room in your life for serendipity sometimes. For example, without an accident, I never would have discovered the joy of bacon polenta. (All the people who say “Matt, I thought you were going low-carb?” can step off. I’m playing hockey today. I’ll skate it off.) The Google cafe may like to call it creamy polenta, but as a Southern boy, I just think of it as cheese grits. It’s even better with bacon. Mmmm. Bacon-y goodness.
Accidents in crawling/indexing/scoring happen too. Sometimes they’re happy: “If we turn this factor off, scoring gets better? Cool!”. Sometimes they’re unhappy: “What happened to this page?” One of my least favorite accidents is when someone reports a 301 or 302 problem. The heuristics we put into a place have greatly reduced complaints about “302 hijacking.” For the first time in ~1 month, I got an email about a “302 hijacking”. This case was especially interesting because I got an email from both sides: someone from the destination site wrote, and the source site also wrote to say “we didn’t mean for this to happen.” I take that as a kinda good sign; when I hear about it from both ends, 302 problems are hopefully much more rare. I passed the info on to the mailing list we have for that, and I’ve asked a colleague to email both sides when we get it debugged.
What do you do if you suspect a “302 hijacking” but don’t have my email address? There’s a convenient way that should get your report to the same engineering list, where it will get the same level of investigation. Go to http://www.google.com/support/bin/request.py and click “I’m a webmaster inquiring about my website” then select “Why my site disappeared from the search results or dropped in ranking” and click continue. In the webform that you get to, make sure you put “canonicalpage” in the Subject line, then put the details in the Message body. Someone will route that message to an engineering mailing list where we dissect claims of canonicalization problems (that is, picking the wrong url).
I also got one email today about a site being indexed under both www.domain.com and domain.com. The proper procedure (assuming that you want www.domain.com to show up) is to make domain.com do a permanent (301) redirect to www.domain.com. The person that wrote said that we hadn’t crawled domain.com recently to find the 301/permanent redirect. I’d be curious to hear feedback (in the same way as the paragraph above) to see how many other people are running into this issue.