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Lost 2,500 links changing hosts

     
10:10 am on Jan 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Hi all. I have a hobby site that I use for my own interests and I was wondering why traffic was way down several weeks after switching hosts(my long time host began having horrible securty issues on their end with a Yahoo java script insertion - you probably know who they are).

Well, I was getting 900 -1200 unique visitors a day on my old host, and now I get 200 visitors a day. I had around 2,530 "links to my site" a few months ago via Webmaster tools and now I have 37! Ouch! It also appears hundreds of pages were dropped. Webcrawl has no issues to report either.
My entire blog is intact and the link structure was kept the same - I checked my own blog pages with the exact pages indexed in Google, and they worked fine when I first switched over, and then everything just dropped! I don't get it.

The only thing I noticed is that my old host had a "www" in front of my domain, and my new host has a no "www" in front of my site name. I am assuming this is some sort of redirect issue? If so, what is the exact kind of text I would need to put in such file to get my "www" links to my new "non www" URL on the new host?

Sorry for the noob questions and lengthy post. This is just really frustrating. It's only a hobby site but it's still very disheartening to lose all those links over the past few years, and to see traffic way down.

10:38 am on Jan 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Who moved your site to the new host? They could explain why the new site "does not have" www before the domain name.

Please elaborate on "does not have". Do you mean that appending www to your domain name fails to bring up the site?

Are you using a host that is reasonably well known, e.g. lots of people recommend it on the web hosting forums? In my limited experience of about a dozen shared hosts, all of them by default treat www and a lack of www the same.

I can't think of a host change affecting backlinks. If the delay is long, you may lose indexed pages and ranks.

If you didn't get a note from Google about your site hosting nasty files, this may have nothing to do with it. Let's see what others think.

10:51 am on Jan 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Set up a Google WMT account, and set the "preferred domain" option to whatever you are currently using. If your links pointed to www.example.com and www.example.com no longer resolves, that is where your links went.

Similarly, you might find pages have gone 'supplemental' if there are no longer enough valid links keeping them in the main index.

10:56 am on Jan 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Hi Anallawalla - I moved the site to the new host because my long time host had a backdoor Yahoo java script insertion for the past several months and did nothing about it(or was unable to, and they still haven't fixed it).

What I mean by "does not have" is that my previous host automatically had "www" in front of my domain name by default, whereas the new host doesn't do that at all, instead using a default without "www".

Yeah the new host I use is well known and recommended by a a lot. In fact, most of the people migrating from my old host ended up at this new one too.

Shaddows - Thanks for the help. I've been in WMT for quite some time. I will set the "preferred domain" in the settings section in WMT and see what happens.

Thanks guys. This sucks :( I wish my old host never had those recurring security issues.

P.S. What's really weird about this is that right after I moved my blog to the new host, I specifically went back through dozens of indexed pages via searches in google to make sure my link structure was correct, and those pages all went exactly to the site as they were supposed to. Now? All those pages are gone. Hundreds of pages no longer indexed and I moved my site at the beginning of January!

Edit: Shaddows - I did change the preferred URL and now I received this message from Google WMT under the "links" section:

You have specified domain.com as the preferred domain for this site. The information for this domain may not be complete. Please add the site domain.com for more complete information

It's asking me to change my domain to the same exact domain? I don't follow.

[edited by: Boulder90 at 11:23 am (utc) on Jan. 30, 2009]

11:29 am on Jan 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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you need to set up a redirect so that every request for example.com gets 301 redirected to www.example.com and that should fix your problem.
how you set up that redirect depends on the server and hosting setup.
11:48 am on Jan 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Thanks phranque! But wouldn't I need to redirect www.example.com to example.com in this case since my new host uses a default of no "www", and all my archived pages and links were indexed with a "www"? Maybe I'm wrong.
12:02 pm on Jan 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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if the request is not for www.example.com

it must be redirected to www.example.com

if the request is for example.com
or wwww.example.com
or junk.example.com
it must be redirected to www.example.com

12:20 pm on Jan 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Does this look right? Thanks:

# Redirect if NOT example.com (exactly) to example.com
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} .
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^example\.com
RewriteRule (.*) http://example.com/$1 [R=301,L]

6:06 pm on Jan 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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There's a major reference thread about this issue:

[webmasterworld.com...]

It's always available in the Hot Topics area [webmasterworld.com], which is always pinned to the top of this forum's index page.

8:06 pm on Jan 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Thanks Tedster. I actually had that page bookmarked already.

At this point I'm just curious if my text here looks "right" for my specific application of redirecting my indexed www url's with my new host url that does not use www.

8:52 pm on Jan 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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That's more of a technical question for the Apache forum. I hesitate to take it on here, first because it's not our core purpose and you may get poor advice. Also, not everyone is using Apache, and the real .htaccess experts hang out at [webmasterworld.com...]
9:50 pm on Jan 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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How can one check how many links it had before, and how many it has now.
10:53 pm on Jan 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Boulder90

I would get a hold of your host and switch it so that the default is www.

The reason being is that from the sounds of it, the VAST majority of your inbound links point to the www version of your site, so that is the version you are best off using.

Once you have your host does that, then setup the redirect so that requests must have the www in front or they get redirected to the www version.

You could do it the other way around, but you'd be redirecting the more highly linked version of your domain to the less linked version which isn't necessarily the best option.

[edited by: Philosopher at 10:54 pm (utc) on Jan. 30, 2009]

3:49 am on Jan 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the information. I will be contacting my host to see if I can switch it to the "www" version.

Erku - I keep a small log of how many links I have for a given site every few months, as well as indexed URL's. It's just some simple text in notepad. I can then compare that with current numbers available on WMT.

4:37 am on Jan 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Well, I talked to tech support via chat and asked them to change my default non "www" to a default with "www", this was their first response:

10:07:26 PM) TECH: We can't actually control this.
(10:07:34 PM) Boulder: why not?
(10:08:33 PM) TECH: I mean, we can't force what google does.

The tech then tells me to hold on, and I wait 10 minutes for his response. He redirects me to the Cpanel and tells me to do a 301 redirect in the admin options area, which I'm not sure is the same thing that Philosopher talked about(in fact I'm pretty sure it's not)
Am I wrong or is the tech support wrong?

10:25 am on Feb 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Sorry, but I still cannot understand what do you mean by "new host has domain without www by default". It's up to you how to open it - using www or not. I suspect that old host had 301 redirect from non-www to www version, but new one doesn't have this by default.
9:08 pm on Feb 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I'm not an expert in htaccess but I've set it up on about 50 sites. The 301 redirect is usually something the owner/web designer sets up and not something the host sets up when you order hosting. Perhaps your old host/designer set it up on your old host. I'd clarify your questions in the Apache forum as suggested above.
11:56 pm on Feb 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

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*** (10:07:26 PM) TECH: We can't actually control this. ***

Yes you can. It's all in how you set up the site.

*** (10:08:33 PM) TECH: I mean, we can't force what google does. ***

Yes you can. That's what the site-wide non-www to www 301 redirect does.

I hate hosts that are this clueless. It looks like it might already be time for you to move hosts again.

If you have a long history of having at site at www with non-www redirecting, you need to get back to that exact same situation as soon as possible.

 

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