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New Content, Server, etc.

Pitfalls to avoid

     
5:42 pm on Jun 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

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We are planning a major makeover of our site, which is well established and in the top 5 of Google SERPS for our kws. What should I be careful of?

I may change servers. Is that dangerous? I'm sure the new server wouldn't be on Google's hit list, if there is such a thing.

I may do a complete change of every page all at once. Is that dangerous with Google?

I'm keeping title, description and kw metatags the same, as well as kw density, alt tags, etc. But the content has been completely re-written.

We also are moving to a cleaner, simpler home page with less text. Is this dangerous? The content is still there in the site, just less on the home page for the cleaner look.

Should I do this whole thing slower, and page by page to appease the Google gods?

We will also keep many of our old pages alive, more as archives, so in effect we will be ADDING content, which Google should like.

Any other suggestionS or pitfalls to avoid for Google?

And finally, are 301 re-directs okay with Google for some of the pages?

Thanks.

6:20 am on June 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I recently did the same thing with my domain name. The result: the site was banned. Why? I believe the issue was accidental "cloaking" due to changing DNS/IP/content at the same time. Basically what I did was I migrated my website to a new server with new DNS, etc. On the old server, I put a blank white page since no one should be going there anyway. Harmless, right? Wrong. :( Turns out it was a mistake to leave the old server online still. What ended up happening was that some Googlebots were using the old DNS/old IP and went to the old server and received a blank page. Other Googlebots were going to the new server, using new DNS, and receiving actual content. The result? Google was getting two different pages at basically the same time and I ended up getting banned. I submitted a reclusion request 2 weeks ago (when this happened) and so far have just received one reply that said they couldn't give me individual assistance at this time. I replied again but so far I have not received a second reply.

So in summary, do the following:
- Make sure there are never two servers responding to requests for your domain dishing out different content. Once you migrate your site to the new server, rip the old server out of the wall.
- Do not do all of the changes at the same time. Do the IP change first, wait a while, then do the content change, etc. Make sure you give Google plenty of time. To be ultra safe, I'd space the changes out over weeks if you can afford it.

I hope this helps.

7:52 am on June 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

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hum. not sure i agree with that. I have always left two servers up. What you did was have two different sets of content for the same domain search, leaving your site intact at the old ip would have meant legacy searches on the old ip were serving the same content for the same domain name as for the new ip. I have never personally experienced problems for same content on different ips. This is exactly how you would want to do this to allow users to find your site no matter what ip the dns is giving them. Actually isnt this just what big sites do all the time? isnt this how they load balance by sending users to different servers with the same content depending on load? Why would Google penalise for that? I think they are sharp enough to know that its the domain that counts, not the IP. Have the same information for two domains and of course thats a problem, but the same information on different servers, even 20 or more of them matters not a jot, people search by domain name, they will only ever get served one ip. Wheres the problem?
8:35 am on June 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

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More like google can't rank a blank page.
9:08 am on June 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

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how many servers does Google have? 10,000 plus isnt it? Yup 10,000 blank pages might just cause problems but 10,000 servers with content seems fine by them.

:)

3:22 pm on June 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Yeah my mistake was not leaving the content on the old IP and instead putting a blank page up. So, different content was being displayed for the same domain. Why I didn't just shutdown the old server is beyond me. Live and learn I guess. Oh, and I agree that big companies (such as Google itself) have the same content on multiple IPs without a problem. My issue was different content on different IPs for the same domain. Hopefully my reinclusion request will be processed relatively soon. I don't know what kind of turnaround time to expect though.
3:53 pm on June 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Can anyone tell me please just what exactly is "IP Cloaking"?

I added another "add on" domain to my hosting package, this was a previously pointed domain to my main domain. Now, it's separate with its own true domain and I haven't decided on the content yet. I think I'm going to get a DIFFERENT IP address for it than my current main domain since I was told G would (of course) find some reason to penalize them for being on the same IP if the content were similar and if they linked to each other. It will be on the same server as my current main domain, because my current server is the fastest one they have. I found out I could get a different IP for it for $2 a month. Is this IP cloaking?
Thanks.

1:51 pm on June 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Anyone? ;)
1:59 pm on June 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

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different IP? Or static IP?

difference between shared hosting and dedicated hosting...

shared hosting involves a bunch of different websites all located on the same server, resolving the same IP address...

the latter being 1 IP address for your site only...

the issue with shared hosting comes into play if someone on your server/IP does something to get that IP banned....you go down the toilet too!

personally I've never had it happen to me or to any of my customers, but it DOES happen...

Tera

1:56 pm on July 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Terabytes, thanks.

Well, it will be a different IP but I don't know if you'd call it a static IP. I assume yes since the IP won't be changing. This is shared hosting, but I don't know if I will be only one with this new IP or not. All I know is it will be different than my current domains, and it will be on the same server.

So would this be "IP cloaking" or would it be considered totally legit?
Thanks.

5:01 pm on July 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

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- Make sure there are never two servers responding to requests for your domain dishing out different content. Once you migrate your site to the new server, rip the old server out of the wall.

Well, I am purchasing a domain from someone, and obviously the domain is going to be migrated to my own registrar. Also, I was thinking about continuing using his DNS until I get all the files transferred to my own server (and I complete the redesign). After I obtain all the files, I will then put the files on my server, and change the dns to point to it. (first time I am doing this, so I may say something wrong). I can't control what my seller will do with his server though. He may keep the old files in the same place, and I have no control over it. Are you saying that I should worry about this?

7:35 pm on July 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

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there is no problem with the same content on multiple servers if the content is for a single domain. Whatever dns the user comes in off they get the same content for the same query.
10:54 pm on July 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Clint your case is not "IP Cloaking". It is having two websites on two IPs, sharing the same physical server. That is totally common, and as legit as anything. Don't worry about it.

IP Claking refers to serving up different content based on the IP address of the visitor, which is something entirely different.

11:35 pm on July 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Widestrides:

>> I may change servers. Is that dangerous?

If you don't change your domain name and URLs at the same time, then there are usually no problems. A server change -- by itself -- is mostly transparent to the search engines, so they don't even notice it.

>> I may do a complete change of every page all at once.
>> Is that dangerous with Google?

If you move content from one URL to another, make sure that there is a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one. Otherwise you might see negative sideeffects.

If you change all your content you might drop in rankings for a while (might be a good while, even) until the SE has figured out if your new pages are still as good as the old ones. New pages are new pages, they don't inherit reputation easily (if at all).

Like content, navigation and URLs are very critical - when changing any of these significantly you should always be careful. If you change navigation and URLs you will be making brand new pages and that will influence the whole flow of link power throughout your site.

>> We also are moving to a cleaner, simpler home page with less text.
>> Is this dangerous?

I don't see why it should be, by itself. Of course you can do all kinds of things along with changing the home page that will affect the ranking negatively, but removing a little text should not be a major worry by itself.

>> Should I do this whole thing slower, and page by page to appease the Google gods?

Depends. If you are doing a lot of new pages (say, thousands) and your site is not frequently spidered then publishing them all at once might give the bot indigestion (so go slow). It would also make sense to add pages in small-ish increments in order to be able to monitor the changes in SERPs closer.

Apart from these, i don't really see a reason to hold the pages back once they're written anyway.

>> Any other suggestions or pitfalls to avoid for Google?

Any very large changes to most websites seem to be a bit risky. That does not mean that you should not make any changes. On the contrary, it's always good to update your pages.

Adding pages is good. Updating existing pages is good. Just shuffling pages around isn't. Exchanging one kind of content with another unrelated kind of content isn't either. Some things are discovered, others are ignored. So, watch your steps as there's a potential minefield here.

Also, when you make large changes chances are that something might fail technically or otherwise. Errors do occur. Make sure to check that everything works.

>> 301

Yes, always use them. They are not only "OK", they are required. However, 301'ing a very large amount of pages might "raise flags", so there's another thin line to walk.

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