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Change Of Address Has Changed Back
traffik daddy

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4641563 posted 3:54 pm on Jan 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

Has anyone experienced a websites change of address reverting back to the original address without actually authorising it?

I had a change of address setup in Google WMT and have all 301 redirects setup to the newer domain. The new address has been live for around 6 months, then last week the old domain appeared out of nowhere and the new domain lost its rankings.... just like that. The 301 redirects were still in place at the time. I have since reset the change of address request in WMT but it has been 8 days and still nothing.

This is for a client, so unfortunately I am getting it in the neck :(

I was wondering if this is possibly a bug of some sort? Has anyone here ever experienced this happening, and if so how did you manage to fix it?

Thank you
A confused TD

 

aakk9999

WebmasterWorld Administrator 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4641563 posted 4:41 pm on Jan 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

The 301 redirects were still in place at the time
Does this mean they are not in place any more?

I have since reset the change of address request in WMT
Not sure what you mean there - you withdrew the Change of Address or you have done Change of Address again?

A few questions:
Have you checked the logs to confirm that 301 response is always being returned?
Have you tried "Fetch as Googlebot" in WMT to see what response Google gets?

Also, there were two reports of Google stopped following 301 in the last few months, and you may check these threads too.

Google returns both correct and incorrect versions of 301ed url
15 Nov 2013
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4623582.htm [webmasterworld.com]

Google now chooses my shortest url possible, ignoring 301/canonical
5 Dec 2013
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4627937.htm [webmasterworld.com]

traffik daddy

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4641563 posted 4:51 pm on Jan 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

Hi yes sorry, I should have been more specific.

The 301 redirects have always been in place and have never been removed.

I have done the change of address again.

I have just noticed that the content within the Google verification file has changed and I am not sure how because I have never altered it in any way whatsoever.

Instead of containing just:

google-site-verification: googleXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.html

#it instead contained:


<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//IETF//DTD HTML 2.0//EN">
<html><head>
<title>404 Not Found</title>
</head><body>
<h1>Not Found</h1>
<p>The requested URL /googleXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.html was not found on this server.</p>
<p>Additionally, a 404 Not Found
error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.</p>
<hr>
<address>Apache/2.2.3 Server at <website> Port 80</address>
</body></html>


That above was actually written to the verification file. This was not in the file originally and do not know how the verification file has changed. Could this possibly be the cause?

Anyway, I have overwritten that file now so hopefully it will sort it out.

Thanks for your reply, I will try those suggestions of yours :)

TD

ZydoSEO

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4641563 posted 4:12 am on Feb 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

I have successfully moved many sites and NEVER used WMT to "change its address". All I've ever done was to 301 redirect the old domain to the new domain. And I've never had any issue like the one you've described.

lucy24

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4641563 posted 6:32 am on Feb 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

That above was actually written to the verification file. This was not in the file originally and do not know how the verification file has changed. Could this possibly be the cause?

It looks more like a symptom-- or evidence of some kind of hanky-panky. (Or some kind of computer hiccup: "Never attribute to malice" et cetera.) In a routine request for the verification file, google failed to find it, and therefore revoked all actions ever taken on behalf of the no-longer-verified site. And then somehow the response headers for this failed fetch got turned into file contents. (HTML two? Wow.)

As far as you know, was the verification file present continuously? I suspect that a lot of people automatically delete it after google's first visit (I know I did once), thinking it only gets checked once-and-for-all.

afaik, google doesn't care about the content of the file. They just need to know that it's there.

traffik daddy

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4641563 posted 11:54 am on Feb 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

As far as you know, was the verification file present continuously? I suspect that a lot of people automatically delete it after google's first visit (I know I did once), thinking it only gets checked once-and-for-all.


Yes, I have actually made that mistake myself so I always leave the verification file there for all of our clients.

As of today everything is the same as it was before I finished work on Friday.

Google is still crawling the website and I successfully fetched Google. In fact, everything is showing up fine in WMT

I have recently been changing the .htaccess file to speed up the website, such as Gzip, browser cache, keep-alive, etc, etc. However, to my knowledge that shouldn't cause a problem.

I just get the feeling I am overlooking something simple. I'll just have to sit back and hope it sorts itself out. Thank you for the suggestions, if I manage to find the problem I will post it here.

TD

SEOMa3



 
Msg#: 4641563 posted 12:52 pm on Feb 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

I faced the exact same problem in Oct 2013. My thread [webmasterworld.com...]

The saddest part now is that my old site kept coming back in SERPs and all my rankings dropped to the 4th, 5th page. I used to rank on page 1 for all my keywords.

I have now pulled down my old website hoping that something would change...fingers crossed

traffik daddy

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4641563 posted 3:50 pm on Feb 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

Hello SEOma3

It sounds like a possibility, although I am no htaccess guru

The (original) htaccess file is setup as follows:


RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^site.com
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.site2.com/$1 [R=301,L]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www\.site\.com$
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.site2.com/$1 [R=301,L]


I think it may be possible because recently I did take some coding from another htaccess file that includes rewrite rules and I am starting to wonder if this is causing a conflict. I took it from a Wordpress site that W3 Total Cache had written to the htaccess file and put it into a static website in order to enable keep-alive, Gzip and browser caching. It had worked and it enable all of the above.

Did you make any changes to htaccess around the time of your own problems?

I may just go back to the original and simpler htaccess and try to enable each of those individually rather than trying to be clever :)

As I said I am no htaccess guru so I will wait and see if this fixes the issue.

Thank you for replying.

TD

SEOMa3



 
Msg#: 4641563 posted 4:03 pm on Feb 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

Hey TD

No changes had been made. For 2 months all my keywords were ranking for my new website. Then my old site came into the picture. Then it went off and my new site never came back to page 1 :(

traffik daddy

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4641563 posted 11:38 am on Feb 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

Okay, a quick update:

I have found a canonical tag pointing to the old website that I somehow overlooked, I was looking more at the setup of the .htaccess file and never even considered it. I am guessing this could be the root of the problem.

I have changed this today (it was sitewide) and will post any results.

aakk9999

WebmasterWorld Administrator 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4641563 posted 1:23 am on Feb 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

This is interesting and thank you on the update. So if I understood well, you have:

OLD WEBSITE ---301---> NEW WEBSITE ---Canonical---> OLD WEBSITE

If so, some years back Google used to report "redirect loop" in WMT in such situations - so it seems this is not reported any more.

It is also interesting that Google needed 6 months before reverting. And the most interesting is that in your case Google has decided that the canonical link element is a stronger signal than the explicit 301. So much for canonical being only a "hint".

I have changed this today (it was sitewide) and will post any results.

As a matter of interest, have you only removed the Old Site canonical or have you replaced it with a correct New Site URL?

Please do report back your results, but do not forget that it may take Google some time to re-crawl all the pages from the New Site.

To see if you are on the right track, you may want to try to do WMT "Fetch as Googlebot" and then "Submit to Index" of a few selected pages with fixed canonical and monitor these to give you the indication on whether it would work.

traffik daddy

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4641563 posted 10:25 am on Feb 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

OLD WEBSITE ---301---> NEW WEBSITE ---Canonical---> OLD WEBSITE


Yes, that is exactly right.

As a matter of interest, have you only removed the Old Site canonical or have you replaced it with a correct New Site URL?


Since then I have replaced the canonical tag with the new domain. The website is not really a big website so I am hoping it will be fixed sooner rather than later. I know the transition of a bigger website to a new domain can take longer but we're talking 20 pages at the most. Crawl stats are on the rise again so I am taking that as a positive sign.

Please do report back your results, but do not forget that it may take Google some time to re-crawl all the pages from the New Site.


I will post back in here if there is any change. I understand that it could take longer than expected but I am clinging onto the hope that it will fix itself rather quickly.

To see if you are on the right track, you may want to try to do WMT "Fetch as Googlebot" and then "Submit to Index" of a few selected pages with fixed canonical and monitor these to give you the indication on whether it would work.


I have just done that, thanks for the advice. I had also pinged the changed pages.

traffik daddy

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4641563 posted 9:14 am on Feb 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

Another update and the new domain is back, so it does look like the canonical tag pointing towards the old domain was causing the problem.

I have noticed the homepage came back first and a few more important pages have come back this morning, but some of the other inner landing pages are still showing as the old domain, so I am assuming this is a recaching issue with Google still thinking those pages canonical tags are still pointing towards the old domain? It at least looks that way. If that is the case then I expect the domain to be back fully within the next 2 days.

It is still strange that it took Google up to 6 months to revert back to the old domain when the canonical tag was always there within the website. Why all of a sudden? Either way, it is fixed now and I would like to thank you all for your suggestions.

TD

aakk9999

WebmasterWorld Administrator 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4641563 posted 9:55 am on Feb 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

Google needs to re-crawl each of your pages in order to see the change in canonical. How long does this take depends on the size of your site. This would explain why the home page and more important pages came back first - they are usually crawled more often.

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