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Buy a site, lose the PR?



11:25 pm on Jul 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Great site, everybody! I was referred over here by a friend, and really hope someone can help me out.

I work for a company that buy's sites like candy. They bought one a while back, and was going to begin migrating it over to our servers next week. On the 27th (or so) they changed the nameserver info, but not the location of the site. All of a sudden, the site's SE traffic dropped by 80%. The only thing that we're thinking is that when a site is bought from someone, it loses it's PR since the new owner doesn't have the 'trust' of the old owner, or some #*$! like that. LivePR claims it's still a PR5, but Blogflux (who I normally use) claims it's a PR0.

The site literally went from 14k a day from google to 2k a day, overnight. It's been steady at 2k for a week, after being steady at 14k for at least a year. Seems like a huge coincidence that the day the name server info changed the SE traffic drops.

I highly doubt it's incoming links, because the site's traffic base has historically been from google, and the site never traded hardlinks. Even if the previous owners notified a bunch of sites to pull their links, they all wouldn't hit instantly on the same day.

Also... I just realized something, the domain is registered "Private". You know, like so when you go and whois the thing you don't end up with anything. I'm trying to find out if it was privately registered before, but could that be anything?

Does anyone know anything about this? Heard of it happening before?

[edited by: tedster at 12:43 am (utc) on July 4, 2008]


1:00 am on Jul 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Nah, I've bought sites and never had a problem. heck, you can buy dropped domains and do OK these days. So I would not initially look at the ownership issue as the problem.

I'm guessing there's been a nameserver error when the change was made. Double check that change and make sure the site is live from more than just your internal server :).

The only other possibility is that the site's been banned somehow. If that's the case, check how many pages you've got indexed in Google. If there's none, you've got a problem (though again, could be nameserver perhaps?).

In any event, I suspect the PR is misleading unless the site just got banned. And it's not indicative of much anyway.

My guess? The nameservers or a similiar technical issue.


1:22 pm on Jul 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Bought sites too and if the transfer is trouble free nothing should change. The question is what was the previous owner doing to get the traffic. Many websites owners use traffic sharing programs or advertising or all kinds of shady tricks to inflate traffic prior to selling it. Plus, I have heard that it is easy to manipulate traffic data even in Alexa -- I was able to confirm that even websites with just a dozen visitors daily rank much higher in Alexa than websites with thousands of visitors that I own. When the website is sold traffic will plunge because the previous owner is no longer pushing.


4:56 pm on Jul 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member essex_boy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Its also possible to fake the PR, making look like a 10 when it has no PR at all.


7:58 pm on Jul 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

What software are you using that tells you the traffic has dopped 80%?


3:19 pm on Jul 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Thanks for the reply guys. We're checking our stats through google analytics. Also, it's not all the traffic that has dropped by 80%, it's just google traffic that has dropped. Type in and referral traffic hasn't changed.

I'm going to have them take a look at a nameserver problem, since that's the only thing that I believe could be a problem, but I doubt that's it.


4:30 am on Jul 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Do you have prev stats to know where the old traffic was coming from? Maybe they were doing ppc. After they sold it they stopped the ppc.

Some people do that to hike up the price.. keep in mind that GA is not setup correctly it will tell you that everything is organic. So dont take ga's word for it...

Good luck!


9:41 am on Jul 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I have had issues with changing domain registration before, but by the sounds of it most of you here haven't had the same problem.

I totally agree with Ajaxunion about Analytics not showing the correct data or where its coming from, always had issues with G not making the difference between Paid and Natural Traffic


10:40 am on Jul 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I have a client with same symptoms - all apparently well, and traffic dropped by....well - about 80%! overnight.

Try http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=http://yourdomain.com

...to ensure your site hasn't been hacked - as that what happened to my client (a hack attempt that was stopped in its tracks within an hour or two - but then triggered a major traffic issue). Inquiries through backchannels into G confirmed this was the cause of traffic drop.

With that said, the timing of your nameserver change is a little hard to overlook isnt it.

[edited by: tedster at 5:34 am (utc) on July 11, 2008]
[edit reason] de-linked the url [/edit]


3:56 pm on Jul 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Great link, and yes it says we're clear. You're the first person on two boards to suggest this, and I've bookmarked that link for future use.

That makes sense, but it just doesn't feel right. The previous owner sold us the site months ago, and getting everything transferred has been a slow process (the guy was dragging his feet a little). It took him a month to get us the required server info, and then we took maybe two days to set up the zone file on our nameserver. What are the chances that the same day we change the DNS he pulls all his bought traffic?


7:11 pm on Jul 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Did you do a reverse IP to see what else is hosted by you? That may effect your ranking if you have spam on that IP.

Also look at google WMT and see if you recently lost links to your site. That may have caused the issue it.

Sometimes when people sell domains they pull all the good links they had to it and redirect the links to a better place.

Link juice can really make a difference as to where you appear in the serps.


9:36 pm on Jul 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


Thx. There is a ton of garbage on the server its hosted on, so it might be in our best interest to get the site moved over to our servers asap. We are just scared to tick off G any more than we already have.

I've got someone looking to see if we lost some links, and I'm waiting on an email back from the seller to see if he had anything pulled.


12:04 am on Jul 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

It could also be that the previous owner had bots acting like organic traffic from Google. I've seen distributed bots acting as all sorts of different things and they can be configured with different profiles - to come to a site and click some random number of links and leave... It's trivial to have the bot say it was referred by some page on Google.

However, unless the owner has experience in an industry that has traffic trading in place, I think the best answer so far is a name server issue...


5:03 pm on Jul 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


Man, I really hope that isn't the issue. Other than directly accusing the guy who sold us the site of artificially inflating the site's traffic, is there any way to tell if this is the case?


7:10 pm on Jul 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Distributed bots messing with analytics are very hard to detect. I only caught them on a site because they used the wrong profile for the site and acted differently than regular users... It was an affiliate situation and the other tell tale sign was a very low conversion ratio...


7:19 pm on Jul 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jimbeetle is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Have you happened to have a look at any of the current loss of Google traffic and bouncing positions in Google SERPs threads. A lot has appeared to have happened the past month or so, you might be able to get some ideas from them.

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