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301s killed my traffic
Think hard before you do mass 301s

 12:02 am on Oct 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

So after watching the eloquent Matt Cutts on the Google webmaster youtube channel explain how great Google is when it comes to dealing with 301s and how it's just a simple matter of 301-ning the old URL to the new one, I carefully wrote code to do mass 301 redirects from my old web app to my new one.

Everything was going fine for a couple of weeks with Google still sending traffic from search results based on the old URLs which were 301 redirected to my new URLs.

Then last weekend traffic basically dropped to about 10-20% of what it was before. I know it's probably got nothing to do with this whole panda thing because parts of my site on the same domain which didn't get redirected are still getting the same amount of traffic (in fact a little bit more).

What Matt Cutts doesn't tell you is that if you are doing mass 301 redirects, Google logically gets confused and basically has to do a reset of sorts with your pages and, in particular, your links - many of which don't exist anymore if you have gone so far as to change them to the new URLs which. In effect, this results in a significant drop in Google SE traffic.

I'm expecting/hoping to recover from this eventually. How long it takes, who knows.



 4:56 pm on Oct 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

You're sure you did everything right ?

- Issue 301s on old site
- Got new URLs indexed
- Dropped old ones
- Used GWT to set new domain
- Changed old backlinks (Optional)

Oh! Another thing. Do not trust everything Matt Cutts says. He learns new things from us most of the time. :D

All the best.


 11:10 pm on Oct 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thanks TF. If anyone is wondering (and I'm guessing not many since nobody really bothered to reply :p), all of my traffic and then some came back. Only took about a week or so. Hopefully, it stays that way now.


 9:25 pm on Oct 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

For the record, I was very interested. I just had nothing to contribute.

Thank you for the update.


 9:47 pm on Oct 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

jmorgan sorry I have been quite busy and haven't really had time to do much of anytyhing lately. Company demoted our IT guy and I have taken on most of his duties.

I am glad traffic came back I was gonna tell you give it a little time. I did the same thing about 1000 urls and the exact same thing happened. Lost traffic for a week or so but once G sorted it all out the improved URL's came back a little better. One thing though keep the old URL's live you don't know it they are linked or not and deleting them will be an issue.


 9:53 pm on Oct 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

You're lucky that traffic came back in a week.

People have previously reported outcomes ranging from no drop to major problems for very many weeks or months, sometimes anything up to a year or so.


 12:27 am on Oct 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have to assume something was done incorrectly as all major 301's I have done I have experienced no big problems. This could fit moving a site as well some move very well no problems while others report major peoblems. I have to believe there was some errors in both cases.


 12:40 am on Oct 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

No problem bwnbwn.

BTW, I should add that in my case I was 301-ing within the same domain (not moving to a new domain) due to upgrading to a web app with the same (upgraded) features but with different URL schemes.


 10:27 pm on Oct 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

I was hoping you'd have good news to share about this.

I had a section of my non-pandalized site displaying a shortlist of things from a database of thousands. I got the bright idea to add pagination where none existed before. I assumed a canonical tag from the 2nd,3rd etc pages to the first was all I needed to do, according to a matt cutts youtube video, and two things happened.

#1 - traffic dropped to 10-20% of original levels from Google.
#2 - total number of indexed pages grew exponentially.

Needless to say I've removed pagination and used 301's to redirect all extra pages back to the first one. It's been two weeks, no change, thank God this wasn't my primary income earning website.

Doing things as instructed doesn't always work out as intended.

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