Fixing “Error in the Site Data Web Service” crawl error in SharePoint 2010

I ran into the following issue with search in SharePoint Server 2010 – the crawl job was failing to index the entire site collection. 

Crawl log error:  Error in the Site Data Web Service. (Value does not fall within the expected range.)
ULS log error:   “Error from SharePoint site: Data is Null. This method or property cannot be called on Null values.”

If you turn your diagnostic logging to Verbose, you might see the following error in the ULS log file:

GetSite fail. error 2147755542, strSiteUrl

I was able to fix the problem with the following steps:

1) Ran stsadm -o export command with -includeusersecurity switch to export the site.

2) Additionally, created a full backup of the site (just in case I needed to roll back) using stsadm -o backup command.

3) Deleted the original site collection.

4) Re-created a blank site collection with the same URL and using the same site template.

5) Ran stsadm -o import command with -includeusersecurity switch to import the site.

6) In the Search service application, deleted the original content source containing the problem site collection URL and re-created it with a different name.

7) Reset search index and run a full crawl job.

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