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Domain lost 3/4 traffic ever since server upgrade.

htaccess check

     
5:25 pm on May 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I had a folder on my website with an index page that I was treating as a separate site that I later switched to it's own domain. I have had 301 redirects from the old website to the new domain ever since I set up the domain a few years ago and everything was working fine. I had to upgrade my main website to a new server/cpanel and ever since my traffic dropped off on the old page/now on it's own domain. I checked the URLs manually and also in a redirect checker and everything appears to be working correctly. However I lost about 3/4 the traffic I used to have (from 2000 per week down to 500) ever since the upgrade to the new server of the original domain.

Here are the redirects I have in place on the original domain. I had changed the name of the folder twice so the need for both redirects (example_page then switched to examplepage) before switching to it's own domain. I tried listing only one of those but then the pages wouldn't redirect to the new domain so I list them both.

If this isn't a problem can someone tell me what else I need to check?

#page moved to it's own domain
RewriteRule ^examplepage/(.*) http://www.examplepage.com/$1 [R=301,L]
#old url for page:
RewriteRule ^example_page/(.*) http://www.examplepage.com/$1 [R=301,L]



[edited by: not2easy at 6:35 pm (utc) on May 11, 2017]
[edit reason] readability [/edit]

10:53 pm on May 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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is GSC reporting any issues?
12:07 am on May 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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However I lost about 3/4 the traffic I used to have

OK, you need to figure out where exactly it got lost.

Before the server move, what percentage of the new site's traffic was redirects from the old URL? If it was established several years ago, then it doesn't seem as if redirects would be significant at all.

Look at both sites' access logs. The new site's logs show the requests that were made there. But if there are still a lot of requests coming in from the old site, you should be seeing those requests in logs with a 301 response. (Logs don't say where a request got redirected to, and of course they can't say whether the visitor followed up on the redirect, but they will show that a redirect was issued.) If the response is something other than 301, more investigation is needed. And if the requests aren't being made in the first place, there may be some entirely different problem.

I assume you've done the obvious tests, like intentionally typing an outdated URL into your browser's address bar to verify that things are still getting redirected as intended.

Incidentally ...
RewriteRule ^examplepage/(.*) http://www.examplepage.com/$1 [R=301,L]

RewriteRule ^example_page/(.*) http://www.examplepage.com/$1 [R=301,L]

Those can be collapsed into a single rule (note the non-capture):
RewriteRule ^(?:examplepage|example_page)/(.*) http://www.examplepage.com/$1 [R=301,L]
And if the parts you've given as "examplepage" and "example_page" really are that similar it could be even more concise:
RewriteRule ^example_?page/(.*) http://www.examplepage.com/$1 [R=301,L]
This is an advantage if the two different old directory names started out the same; the server doesn't have to throw out the whole thing if it matches the first 7 letters and only failed at the 8th. Similarly if you changed to or from CamelCase:
[Ee]xample[Pp]age
Hm, come to think of it, I actually have the form (FontInput|font_input) in one site's htaccess, thanks to changing my mind twice about names. It could just as well be [Ff]ont_?[Ii]nput. Heh. But that's several years old in any case.
6:01 pm on May 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@ Phranque. GSC doesn't show any problems.

@ Lucy24 I didn't think to copy off log access data before the site was moved. I just set up log analysis (which I've never really used before) and then had to learn how to use it but I don't see any problems with 301s (all pages are being redirected) and 404s are only for minor items like no favicon.ico. I changed the htaccess file as you suggested to include both old directory names in one rule. After checking most popular keywords before and after the move to the new server I think the drop in traffic might be due to loosing some links for the top ranking term while the site wasn't working correctly. This site isn't my main site so I haven't been watching it very closely.

Thanks for your help.
8:42 pm on May 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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When did this marked change in traffic occur? It might be coincidental to one of g's algo changes hitting at the same time you changed servers and have nothing to do with your code/redirects.
8:56 pm on May 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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When it comes to traffic, you can only get a realistic summation by a comprehensive comparison between all factors:

• this day compared to same day last week (prior to server change)

• this day compared to same day last month (prior to server change)

• this week compared to same week last month (prior to server change)

• this month compared to same month last year (prior to server change)
10:25 pm on May 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Heh, heh. In between any of those dates g can insert a Farmyard or Cartoon Character algo change.

Nothing remains the same, though 5 year and 10 year moving averages comes close to finding a median point of what's real and what is not.

Statistics are fun, they also lie, or they mean what you want them to mean.

But it is a pretty good bet that (unless there is a seasonal change like Christmas or Summer) dropping two-thirds one month to the next might have a casual. And it might NOT be changing a server.
10:48 pm on May 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Heh, heh. In between any of those dates g can insert a Farmyard or Cartoon Character algo change.
Of course, but that's not what I was referring to. I explained how to get a more realistic traffic summation using stats. There will always be other factors.

I lost about 3/4 the traffic I used to have (from 2000 per week down to 500) ever since the upgrade to the new server of the original domain.
Lorel - If you are using your server upgrade as a marker, when exactly was that done? Determine that date then look at the latest search update thread [webmasterworld.com...] to see if any changes could have affected your site.

Also, when you say "traffic" what stat are you referring to? File requests? Page loads?
11:21 pm on May 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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There will always be other factors.


As suggested. :)

With a metric of 2000 down to 500 (whether page loads or requests) the indicator there is compounded. It might be competition, algo change(s), site design, etc. What is needed is the DATE when this change occurred. We do have some historical info on g's behavior and launching algo changes.
11:31 pm on May 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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What is needed is the DATE when this change occurred.
As suggested :)
11:41 pm on May 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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(by me first. :) )

Query to keyply, are you stalking me?
12:00 am on May 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Ha ha... Paranoia need not be a factor in traffic loss.
12:37 am on May 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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But it helps!
1:37 am on May 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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you need to segment the sources of your traffic and compare them before and after the server move and determine if they have all fallen off by 75% starting on that date.
if you have some analytics installed on your site that is where you start.

i would also suggest examining your server access and error log files for clues - both the old domain (filter just the relevant subirectories) to monitor traffic and make sure the urls are getting the 301 response, and the new domain to make sure the redirected traffic is getting a proper response.
i would manually examine all requests from googlebot in a combined chronological access log file.
i would do the same for one or more presumably human IP addresses.
a spreadsheet is useful for this but you can also do a lot with command line tools if you are so inclined.
1:54 am on May 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@ Tangor.

This is a long confusing story. The hosting company said they would move everything on my main site from the old server to the new one at no expense so I let them. That was 1-26-17. I didn't notice a problem until I started getting bills for both the old and new server, so I cancelled the old one March 13. The addon domain (example-page.com)was still on the old server but I didn't realize it until the domain went down a few days later. So I called and they mistakenly put it back in a folder where it had been years ago under the main domain (instead of being an add-on domain) i.e., it now showed up as mainsite.com/example_page/ (under the old url also). I didn't notice this until I started getting massive 404s (showed up in GSC) for every page on the example-page.com site.

I called again and they put the example-page.com back where it belonged on March 17th and DNS was changed. I didn't notice until 3-27 that I was getting massive 404s on the example-page.com site, ever since the last move.

Somewhere in here (I didn't record the date) the main site was messed up due to the 301 redirect from the main site to the addon domain so they removed the redirect. I figured out the removal of the redirect was causing the 404s on the addon domain so put it back on about 4-4 (totally fed up with the hosting company by now). This fixed the 404s.

However it was on the 13th that the traffic dropped to about 1/4th of what it was before, and that's where it has stayed ever since. I'm referring to StatCounter Unique visits. GSC also showed a traffic drop around the same date and that also has been steady (GSC shows average position dropping over the last 3 months also from around #10 to 20).

I keep a record of Google algo changes. Fred was on Mar 7/8. Another Apr 16, and another Apr 25/26. Fred was designed to remove low value content created for AdSense (my site contains a lot of text on every page and totally unique from all others). I don't have Adsense on that site so don't think this problem was due to an algo change.

After recording all this info I'm wondering if there could still be a problem ever since they moved the example-page.com site to the new server. As stated earlier I have manually checked the OLD urls to make sure they are still working by typing specific page urls in the browser and they are working correctly.
2:07 am on May 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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A site in turmoil, unstable, conflicting, misdirected,, whatever the reason, will get no love. Ride it out. At this point there's not much more you can do but BE CONSISTENT!

Own up that its your problem and not g and go forward. Human nature to blame someone else, in this case you blame the host ... but in the real world you don't let the host do these kind of things, you do it yourself. Harsh words (and I'll probably get slammed) but is the truth.

It appears you ended up with a duplicate content down check (if not penalty).
3:24 pm on May 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The hosting company said they would move everything on my main site from the old server to the new one at no expense so I let them. That was 1-26-17.
...
I didn't notice until 3-27 that I was getting massive 404s on the example-page.com site, ever since the last move.

that sounds like 2 months of minimal attention to your sites and servers at precisely the time you should have been expecting and staying ahead of these types of issues.
Own up that its your problem
3:53 pm on May 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I'm referring to StatCounter Unique visits.

What about the two sites’ raw access logs?

Is there an echo in here?
5:42 pm on May 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@lucy

What does an echo look like? My host only keeps two months of records so it doesn't go back to when this mess started.
6:30 pm on May 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Lorel - after the fact now of course, but it is prudent to keep an active watch on your daily (if not hourly) raw access logs. I suggest setting it up to start downloading your logs each morning and learn to grep (command line) what you need from them. This is part of webmastering.

Discovering this too late is the problem you have now.
7:13 pm on May 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Raw logs are the first line of defense. Download those logs OFF the server at whatever is the appropriate interval (hourly, daily, or weekly). Then find the time to review those logs!
9:08 pm on May 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The reason I haven't kept very good records on this site is because it is just a hobby. It is not my main site.

Thanks for the tips everyone.
 

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