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Site Redesign, 301/302 Redirects, & Lost Rankings

 2:08 am on Jul 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

We've had a very successful site with great rankings, lots of links, and lots of respect within its industry for the last 14 years.

We recently did a full site re-design (the last re-design was about 9-10 years ago), making it more user friendly and bringing it more up-to-date, etc. In doing so, we switch from a straight hand-coded html site to a CMS. All url's changed along with the page titles. Though much of the content remained the same, much of it was updated as well with lots of new content added.

Prior to launching the re-designed site, we went through and made a complete list of all the old site url's and set them to 301 redirects to the appropriate page of the new site.

As soon as we launched, we noticed a 70% drop in traffic. One of the biggest drops came from two of the most popular pages on the old site that no longer received traffic. We discovered that we had accidentally sent the 301 redirect for those two pages to the wrong pages on the new site. While we still retained rankings that we had previously on those two pages, the newly ranked page was somewhat irrelevant and not getting any traffic to it, despite high rankings.

To remedy the situation, we added a more relevant page and did a 302 redirect from the page that was now ranked in an effort to switch the ranked page out with the new page that was more relevant to the old page.

So, we ended up with.....
Original Page --> 301 Redirect to New (but wrong) Page
New (but wrong) Page --> 302 Redirect to Even Newer (more relevant) Page (removed the original 301 when we put this one up)

After doing that, we completely lost many of the rankings that we had with the original 301 redirect and those that we did retain instead went to the main page of the section rather than to the specific page that we did the 302 redirect to.

So, now I feel like we have two options:

1. The original 301 from the old page to the wrong page on the new site transferred links and PR to that page. It maintained rankings but got no traffic. We then did a 302 from that page to the newer more relevant to the old content page. We could remove the newer, more relevant page and the 302 redirect to it and instead just put the old 301 to the less relevant new page back up. Hopefully because it was a 302, the old page will regain old rankings, but it'll be a matter of converting the traffic. Not sure if it's even possible to "un-do" this at this point.

2. The original 301 from the old page to the wrong page on the new site transferred links and PR to that page. It maintained rankings but got no traffic. We then did a 302 from that page to the newer more relevant to the old content page. We can switch the 302 to a 301 and hope that the links and PR that were transferred to the wrong/less-relevant page on the new site transfers to the newer more relevant page.

So, what would you do?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give!



 2:23 am on Jul 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think I got lost in this, but the hit likely came from the 302. Just remove the 302, then point the initial old url, to the new page you just updated.

Like I said, I may have got confused, but it seems the fix for this is rather straightforward. =)


 4:58 am on Jul 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Welcome to the forums, allbooks5

Some short term traffic loss is pretty common after a site redevelopment that changes all your URLs - although 70% is very extreme. How long ago did you make the change?


 2:34 pm on Jul 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

We re-launched the site in April and figured the big drop in traffic would eventually rebound, though we've had no increases since. Last week was when we discovered that we had done the 301 redirect to the wrong page and even though it was still ranking in the top 10 for the keywords (think a buying related page coming up for selling related keywords), we were getting no traffic. That's when we attempted to "fix" the error with by redirecting the new page (that we originally 301 redirect to) via a 302 redirect to the appropriate page. After making this change, we lost the majority of the top 10 rankings and those that stayed are still lower and are pointing to the main section page.

It seemed to me that if we maybe "fixed" it with a 301 instead of a 302 that maybe it would have retained the rankings as it's supposed to pass on links and PR?

I know this is very confusing, so thanks so much for your help!

BTW, with a site that's been around for 14 years and has thousands and thousands of links to it, how long would you expect it take to recover after this big of a redesign?

Thanks again!


 3:17 pm on Jul 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yes, use a 301 to keep [most of] the ranking power of a page, but keep the old URL out of the index.

I would expect recovery for a site like yours to be just a few weeks, unless technical errors come into the picture. Unfortunately, it sounds like you had a least a few of those errors. So now you need to make sure everything is really technically sound - and don't make any more big changes for a while. Redirect troubles can mess up your trust a lot more than something like a broken link. So Google will need some time to trust your site again.

You might find some good food for thought in this thread: Site Relaunch Checklist [webmasterworld.com]


 7:37 pm on Jul 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

So, do you think if we switch the new 302 redirect that we did last week to a 301 and leave it for awhile that it should recover?


 12:39 pm on Jul 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi Everyone, first post here...

For the OP:

I had to move a site recently due to copyright issues. Did everything to the book - 301'ed with wildcard so every url went where it should. Rankings held for a week or two, and then dropped out. They are about 1/10th of the level.

I did this with three sites in total, all at the same time. It's the same scenario with all of them.

I don't know if it's the new update but the sites are ranking like they did when i first started them over two years ago. As far as i've seen, google's talk about 301's preserving rank is BS. It kind of works, but i don't see those old backlinks in WMT.

Interestingly, yahoo and MSN have taken up the old backlinks. Google have not. They're screwing up big time!


 1:14 pm on Jul 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

For the OP:

A = original page
B = new (wrong) page
C = new (correct) page

So you currently have:

A --301--> B --302--> C

I would do the following:

A --301--> C
B --301--> C

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