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Website redesign, new URLs indexed but not ranking

 11:31 pm on Jan 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

About a month ago we completely redesigned our website, including a new shopping cart system. The old site did very well in the SERPs for generic terms, but one of the reasons for the redesign was to have more SEF internal URLs to rank better for long tail searches. The site is only a PR2, but it's in a very small niche.

Here's the problem: my new long tail URLs on the new design are not ranking AT ALL. I can't find them anywhere in the SERPs. If I use the site: command Google definitely has them indexed, so that's not the problem.

Is this just a matter of patience? The ironic thing is that we did this to another site of ours at the exact same time, exact same design and shopping cart, and the long tails are ranking well on that site. The only difference is that site is a year older and PR3.

We've been working on the HTML suggestions in Webmastertools but it doesn't seem to be helping.

Basically I am lost, and would appreciate very much some suggestions. Am I way off base at the possibility that it's because it's only a PR2, and it's not crawling "deep" enough? I'm a SEO newbie, doing the best I can.



 12:28 am on Jan 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Did you redirect your old URLs to the new ones or did you just let them drop off and start with a whole bunch of shinny new pages?

Also, in re-reading your post it sounds like Google IS indexing the pages, and not ranking them as high as the old ones... There's a big difference, so just to make sure: The pages are returned for a site: search, but not ranking for regular searches, correct?


 12:44 am on Jan 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

We did not redirect any of the old URLs, just let them die off. All the pages except the home page are basically brand new.

They ARE being indexed I guess? I can see them in the site: command, but they literally do not show up if I use a regular search. I'll actually run out of pages in the search before seeing any URLs that are supposedly indexed. I'm lost.


 12:48 am on Jan 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Well by not redirecting the old URLs to the new ones you basically built a new site... Except for the links to the home page you don't have any inbound links any more, and, again except for the home page, you have no historical data associated with the pages.

It's really no wonder why they are not ranking in the regular results.
Your site is now basically, effectively brand new...

The first I would do is redirect all the old URLs to the new locations...
Otherwise you're going to need to go on a large link building campaign and wait, IMO.


 12:50 am on Jan 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Four weeks is not a long time in this case - particularly not for a month like December into January, when Google is doing all kinds of back-end data massaging for their post-holiday changes.

Did you check your old internal URLs for direct backlinks? If there are any, the lack of a redirect would have cut off any ranking power that those old pages provided. Those legacy URLs, at the very least, deserve a 301 redirect.


 3:09 am on Jan 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Scientist - I understand what you are saying about the site being effectively new, but why did my other site that was done at the same exact time do perfectly fine as far as long tail URL indexing? I'm just trying to understand the difference.

Tedster - If patience was the answer, I would be fine with it, so I hope that is true. The old internal pages had very few backlinks, if any. All the backlinks were/are to the home page.


 3:42 am on Jan 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

why did my other site that was done at the same exact time do perfectly fine as far as long tail URL indexing? I'm just trying to understand the difference.

While no one who's outside Google can say for sure (sand possibly no one person inside Google either) I think you have already mentioned two critical factors: "that site is a year older and PR3". PR is roughly logarithmic rather than linear. That one point difference in PR means a lot.

Also - there's the relative competitiveness of the keywords you are hoping to rank for. That may also play into the picture.

<fixed a typo>

[edited by: tedster at 4:43 pm (utc) on Jan 10, 2011]

Robert Charlton

 6:18 am on Jan 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

The difference of a year, IMO, is huge. There are different types of links for different types of material, but generally I've observed that the most valuable links take a while to "age" and establish trust.

For an excellent discussion on links and age, I suggest you look at this thread....

Does Google "Age" Your Backlinks?
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4176006.htm [webmasterworld.com]

PS: I suggest locating and redirecting as many of your old backlinks as you can to the new domain. Also, if you can, ask sites that had linked to you earlier to change their links to point to the new site.


 9:50 pm on Jan 10, 2011 (gmt 0)


One website was created in 2001, the other in 2002. I know age matters, but would it make a difference if we are talking the difference between 9 and 10 years?

Robert Charlton

 9:58 pm on Jan 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

I thought you were talking about the new sites.


 10:06 pm on Jan 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

These were both site redesigns. Sorry for the confusion.


 10:22 pm on Jan 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

the most valuable links take a while to "age" and establish trust.

Very true ;)


 10:23 pm on Jan 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

301 redirect all the old urls to similar new urls as soon as possible.


 3:45 am on Jan 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

All the old individual products? That would be a ton of redirects, wouldn't it?


 11:00 am on Jan 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

You should be able to handle a large number of redirects with relatively small number of rules using a regular expression if there is a pattern that can be matched between the two sets of URLs... There usually is.

You can actually redirect 1000s (or more) URLs with a single rule in many cases.


 11:21 am on Jan 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

As I understand, it is a question on ranking and not a question on indexing. Generally mass changes to url structure will have effects like these..and if you don't do a 301 redirect of your old urls, G will never know that the pages with the new urls are not something new, but just the same as the old ones...you are also losing all the link juice that you would have had to the old urls.

There are other things as well:

1) G will try to access your old urls and see that it gets 404s for many pages.You will find a huge bunch of 404s in GWT, if the site has many pages.This is a bad sign to google.

2) G also finds many new pages with the same content.(Note that its cache of old urls does not disappear so quickly). This is bad for the new pages as it may look to G as duplicates.

I am not sure how the other site ranks.Is it a smaller site?


 6:58 pm on Jan 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

As I understand, it is a question on ranking and not a question on indexing

From message in the opening post, I'd say you're right. The original title did say "not indexed" and that was probably confusing things. I've now edited the title to help focus our discussion.

Most of the thread is still right on topic - and correct in my opinion. By not redirecting the legacy URLs any site makes the re-ranking job more challenging when URLs are changed. It's not a job to be done casually.

There's a recent thread in our Hot Topics area [webmasterworld.com], that goes into some depth - it's worth a close study: Site Relaunch Checklist [webmasterworld.com]


 3:23 am on Jan 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thank you very much guys, I'm starting to get the picture. Going to get to work on some 301s.

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