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This 39 message thread spans 2 pages: 39 ( [1] 2 > >     
Changing WebHost Service
When is it safe

 4:14 am on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have a rather large site, I have had the same host for over 3 years, always reliable until just recently they have sold and since the service has been much less than desired. I am also paying top dollar. I know I can get better service for much less but I feel trapped.

What are my options - is there a way to move the site without losing my Search Engine positions. I have had an experience moving a smaller site and it never did recover. Is there a way to safely do this and minimize the negative reprucussions.

Is it possible to have 2 hosting platforms for a few months? Doesn't the registrars DNS point just to one or the other?



 5:13 am on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

my first instinct was to say, yes you're right, it's just a dns change and the engines don't know or care about the underlying IP

I still feel that way for my sites, if I want to change host I do it, and generally leave a few weeks overlap from pure superstition (or sense of tidiness), never seen any difference in the engines

But what was your experience with the other site that didn't recover? now you have me spooked ;)


 5:22 am on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

Google kept spidering the old ip - I did leave the old service intact for 3mos and so I kept seeing the logfiles, Googlebot just kept following the old ip and getting 404's, over and over and over - eventually the site just disappeared out of the index. After 4 mos I resubmitted, I threw up links onto my other sites to pull it in, and in it came but now instead of being on the first page its sitting on page 8 to 48. Very disappointing - I have many page 1's and top 5's with my main site and I am terrified and have a trapped feeling - its just not fair to want to go to a better service and not be able to.


 5:25 am on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

It can take Googlebot some time to update its DNS cache and become aware of the new IP.

If possible, you'd want to run the site on the old IP until Googlebot starts visiting the site at the new IP.


 5:38 am on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

How? I can pay and leave it at the old host and sign to a new one. But the minute I switch the DNS at the registrar the old ip dies. Because the registrar will not point at both the old and new DNS at the same time. Correct? At least that's been my past experience.


 5:39 am on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

Please if there is a way, please help.


 5:50 am on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

An IP for a site is not related to nameservers used for a site.

You can have the old site at the old IP while your site reflects/uses the new nameservers. Simply don't cancel service with the old host until Googlebot find the new site.


 5:54 am on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

That sounds OK, but, why did Google keep getting 404's on the old IP, when I left it subscribed with the old webhost as per my comments above? That I don't understand.


 6:03 am on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

OMG I think I am hooped anyway - the new owners moved me to a new sever - would that change my IP automatically? I am sick, just sick thinking about it. I haven't seen the spider for several days........


 6:06 am on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

It does matter what the IP is, Google crawls by domain name and IP.

Keep both alive, but NO duplicate content at both. Use a 301 to forward the whole old space to the new and you should be OK. It's far easier and better with dedicated IPs.

BTW, Inktomi just totally messed up on a site of mine moving from one name-based hosting to another. No problems at ALL with Google on it, but others have had a hard time a while back.


 6:08 am on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

I gather from these forums that Google caches your IP in its own dns bucket - not really a good policy from our point of view but that's what they do, and it takes a while for them to refresh their bucket.

The answer is to move your site over to your new host, keep a duplicate at the old one, wait the 3 days that any modern intelligence requires, and know that the global dns is pointing to the new host. Correct so far.

But for Google you need to keep the old site up for as long as it takes - don't worry, as long as your old site is at the old IP, Google will go there and keep on listing you in the SERPs at the same domain

Your problem is greatest to the extent that your site changes, of course, which is why marcs said "if possible" - but I sense you have some pages you'd be happy never to change, therefore dupes on two IPs are okay, it's just a dupe hosting cost.

fwiw: I never had to wait more than a couple of months to see the new site come up in Google - but I never had to live in times of margins as tight as today's either - but make a few changes in the new IP site and see when Google catches on to the change, when you're sure they have all your pages, not just a partial, then you can drop the old one.

almost seems pathetic doesn't it, dealing with this super artificial intelligence - I need to look back through older posts on this subject, I'm curious if 301 redirect can help out here, surely there's an affirmative action. I'll be back.


 6:18 am on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

What Marcia said .. so you can 301 from IP to IP right?

If so, I take it back about dupe content.

I never thought about the IP changing - I've had really good hosts with dedicated IP who occasionally wanted to change the IP (reasons escape me), I will remember forever now not to let them do that without a 301 (now I have to go check that point)


 6:23 am on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

No you don't want two sites sitting out there with identical content on them.


 6:28 am on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

OK I am a little technically challenged - how do I forward the old space to the new space - is it as simple as uploading the redirect to the old service and redirecting those files - how do you put a 301 onto the old pages?

and please somebody would the IP have changed already with the new server change?


 6:32 am on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

When you move to a new server there's a different IP number at the new host

You use .htaccess for redirection, either using mod_rewrite or a 301 permanent redirect, which is mod_alias.

Do a site search here (top of page), you'll find plenty of discussion with very specific instructions on how to do it.

I assume you're using *nix hosting.


 6:37 am on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

I just got my answer - over 60% of my pages have been dumped by Google - the IP must have changed with the move to the new server by the host I have - I am sick just sick. I am linked to over 1500 other sites - what are the possibilities Google will find me, fast?


 6:40 am on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

Actually that number is 2800 other sites! What a nice surprise when I checked.


 6:45 am on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)


the thing to remember is that all those sites linking to you are linking to your domain name, and that hasn't changed

I was still looking in to 301, I'm not sure what the board's consensus is about the best way to handle this, but your host just made it moot - so go get the new host, Google will find you again soon

<useless_philosophy>when dealing with Google, use a business model that allows 2-4 months fudge factor, all will be well</useless_philosophy>


 6:50 am on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

I want to thank you all for your help - somehow I feel better, one of the few pages I can find actually has a fresh tag on it date Aug 18 which is 3 days after the server change, so I guess the pages are starting to come back already - so now I know. I will be making the change and soon.


 6:54 am on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

I don't think a 301 redirect will work here because the domain name and individual pages are identical. It's really a caching issue because Google caches DNS entries for a longer time. All you'd need to do is keep the old site alive for a while (60 days?) and watch Googlebot in the logs. There won't be any dupe content problems.

But... since they've already switched IPs on you it might make sense to just jump ship now. The worst has already happened. On a positive note, though I may be wrong, if G can't resolve your site to the old IP anymore it may cause them to update their DNS cache sooner.


 7:08 am on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

I was going to let this drop, but here's a link for some background:
[webmasterworld.com ]

jamesa, definitely a feel here that duplicate content is NOT an issue during the period it takes Google to refresh its IP cache - and it makes sense to me

has anybody seen posting to contradict this?

and Marcia, jamesa is saying that 301 doesn't redirect IP to IP - jdMorgan could set us straight in a heartbeat, and you as a *fantastic mod* could set it in stone for the record...

gotta sleep, but thought I oughta figure this one out before the next hosting move(!)


 2:58 pm on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

One last question on this subject.

I am trying to understand how DNS and IP work -

1. DNS supplies the address to searches that look for you using your .com

2. Googlebot looks for you by IP, so they don't pass through DNS

3. As long as you are still being served by the old service, too, then Google will still find you under the address in their cache until they find your new IP and update.

4. As soon as they serve up the info under the new address, disconnect the old address safely

Is this correct?


 4:38 pm on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

I'm not an expert, but:

1. DNS supplies the address to searches that look for you using your .com

the global dns network is specific computers holding the database of "IP=domain name". Everything surfing the Web goes through this dns lookup (very quickly) in order to get to a URL.

Change a host for your domain, you change the nameservers to reflect the new IP, eventually every computer in the global network through its routine updating procedures has caught up to your change of "newIP=domain".

I have heard some lesser elelments in the global system can take a couple of weeks to update their copy of the database, but generally for us as webmasters, the whole world resolves our domain to our new IP within three days.

2. Googlebot looks for you by IP, so they don't pass through DNS

correct, saves resources during their crawling

3. As long as you are still being served by the old service, too, then Google will still find you under the address in their cache until they find your new IP and update.

right, if your webpages still exist at the old IP, then Google is going to them, and it doesn't matter that your web browser can't find the old IP because your domain name now resolves to the new IP, you could enter the old IP in your browser and go to the old pages, just like Google.

4. As soon as they serve up the info under the new address, disconnect the old address safely

this to me seems like the tricky part. I guess you know when the bots come around to your new IP from the logs. I think a little superstition doesn't hurt here, and keep both IPs loaded for a very comfortable overlap time.

Pure reason tells me that you could keep the old IP up for years without hitting a dupe content issue, because your domain doesn't resolve to the old IP, therefore it's completely invisible on the Web, just doesn't exist, except in those sluggish entities like Google that let their own personal cache of IPs get stale.

It seems if you wanted to you could make changes in the new IP site just for the reassurance of seeing those changes reflected in the SERPS - and when you have pages changing anyway, in this situation, it seems you'd be doing a lot of looking just to figure when the engine's index has changed (not just when the bot crawled - as we know, it can take months to turn over all the pages in the index)

I'm pretty sure of all this, but it's so important to get right for all of us, if anything here is incorrect I hope someone will please correct it. Thanks.


 6:19 pm on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

A great analogy is when you move yet the mailman continues to deliver to the old address because he thinks you still live there.


 6:41 pm on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

Would it help to add a link to new pages on the new server to the old server pages, of course not putting those new pages onto the old server, I have some that are crawled every night by google - would the spider follow through to the new IP faster that way?

ie: page on old server "abc.com/widgets/blue.html" - add a link to "abc.com/widgets/yellow.html"

new server: page "abc.com/widgets/blue.html" and page "abc.com/widgets/yellow.html"


 6:54 pm on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

>> 2. Googlebot looks for you by IP, so they don't pass through DNS

hrm... i wouldn't bet on the IP - at least not being the only thing. There's such a thing as "virtual hosting" - it's very popular as well. VH implies that perhaps, say, 50 domains, 100, or even more share the same IP address.

The sites can be really different totally legit good valuable content sites, they just share one IP-address (with different domains/URLs) in stead of having one each.

Say that IP is .. well if you ask to get the content of that IP the server will really not know which pages to deliver as these pages are on virtual domains, that is: In some subfolders on some machine(s) and access is controlled by a script.

If you ask for "www.example.com", then the DNS will point you to but exactly the same will happen if you ask for "www.foo.com". Then, on the server/load-balancer/whatever the request will get interpreted by a script displaying the right page to you.

It's similar to a .htaccess redirect, it's just taking place on a higher level than your domain.



 7:25 pm on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

That's right - so back to square one? Google is passing throught the DNS?


 7:28 pm on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

Would it help to add a link to new pages on the new server to the old server pages

This would scare me to death - I don't have the reasoning to back it up, but I don't believe I'd be putting links between these two entities, personally.

And the way you illustrated it you have domain name linking to domain name, to serve any purpose you'd have to make links to IP addresses - I believe in the end you have to cut your losses, count your blessings, and wait for Google to take its own sweet time to refresh its IP cache

although I think you can write to Google and maybe try to expedite this


 7:34 pm on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

hrm... i wouldn't bet on the IP - at least not being the only thing.

claus, that's right, there's a puzzle there - but is there no consensus yet on this board about how this works?

I've scanned some of these discussions about Google's IP cache, and I haven't made the time to search thoroughly yet, I had assumed we'd have this mapped out by now, but you're one of the people I'd expect to know the answer

It looks like an exploration still in progress?


 8:39 pm on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well, i don't know the answer for sure myself, sorry to dissappoint you there...I'd expect though, that Googles own/internal DNS tables has some latency as compared to an average ISP although not like, say 60 days, that's just way too much as changes are happening out there every second.

Anyway, there's been reporting of such long intervals in the past, so it's not a rumor, they really have been that slow, the question is if they are still so slow?

This thread suggests the 1-2 month interval, but then it's dated February, and there has been so many changes since: [webmasterworld.com...]

Here's the latest thread i found, from around May, it does not give much evidence either: [webmasterworld.com...]

It seems reasonable that they should be faster on the trigger when meeting 404s than when seeing new content as they don't want to show dead links and new sites require link/algo calculations and such, so that would be an explanation for the dropout thing.

That was May and before though... There's been a lot of changes lately in spidering, with freshbot becoming deepfreshbot and deepbot becoming...well, whatever... i don't think anybody really has gotten the full picture yet. The 30-60 days might not be necessary now as freshbot seems to pick up a lot of changes almost instantly.

Then again, this is changes on pages within sites, not changes of sites themselves, so i don't dare to jump to conclusions. On the other hand i'm going to change hosts myself sometime soon, so i'd really like to see any evidence in whatever direction.


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