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Moving parts of site to subdomain? How quickly will it have an effect?



3:41 pm on Nov 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi there,

to start, some of you may know that I'(along with a lot of you) are fight back at thePanda. Those of you who are members can see here: [webmasterworld.com...]
as i've been outlining some if the measures ive taken to try to recover.

One thing i keep coming across is moving parts or all of the affected site to a sub-domain. I understand that it is widely believed that this is a temporary fix. But it's x-mas and to be frank, I'm getting desperate.

My question is, if i were to test a few categories out using this method, how long would it take google to crawl and reindeer these pages? is there a general time for sub-domains with 301's from the original pages or is it pretty much just like any new pages that we may add to our site that would be indexed usually within a 24 hour period?

Also, i haven't read anything about negative effects of this kind of action, just that it is temporary. Is this correct or am i missing something? For instance, if it works, then reverts back to bad rankings, could i then not just remove the sub-domain pages and go pack to using the original pages OR simply just leave the sub-domain pages and continue the fight?

Again, to be frank, If we lose this x-mas season, that would be a hit i don't think we could recover from so im reaching out for a list ditch effort here. I've already contacted my developer to find out what size job this might be and just how complicate it is (I have no clue). but we don't do much these days without consulting a large group of people like yourselves.

Thanks guys


5:42 am on Nov 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Some of the early sites that experimented with this kind of change in response to Panda saw improvements begin within a months or so. That still might not be enough for you to receive the kind of traffic boost you are talking about in time for holiday sales.

Remember, Panda algorithm scores are not completely integrated with regular scoring on a daily basis the way things like PageRank can be. So even if you make all the nest changes you can, it still takes a Panda "data refresh" at least - if not a full update - to see the effect of the changes in your rankings. Adn the most recent update was November 6, so I would make changes ASAP if you hope to see any benefit for the holidays.


1:26 pm on Nov 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

We did not see any improvement on Nov 6th. We saw about a 20% increase in google traffic on the 4th and the 5th and a massive crawl increase, but no change once it was all said and done.

I'm concerned that there is something more technically wrong with our site (not on the users end, just in the way that google sees us). We've actually made a whole host of changes:
-dealing with all the soft 404's and returning 404's instead.
-noindexed all of our subcategory pages that had duplicate or very similar descriptions to one another (aprox 800 pages)
-removing 95% of out of stock items that could have resulted in a poor user experience
-removing all unused categories from our site (users could not navigate to them but google could index them - which i hadn't realized until recently)
-removed all keyword heavy anchor text from boilerplate navigational images
-removed all keyword heavy descriptions from 100's of categories
-rewriting product descriptions (so that they are better for the user, they do not look like generated descriptions, they were quite formulaic before) which we are only about 30% through of about 4000 products
- updated our preferred domain in EMT to www rather than not specified.

So of all the options I had in front of me when we begin this process the only 2 I have left are
1. finish re-writing product descriptions
2. move to sub-domain as last resort.

I'm just getting concerned, because of no change on the last update, that rewriting all these descriptions is not going to have the effect that I hoped it would.


2:51 pm on Nov 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator phranque is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

have you been checking GWT for messages and reported errors?

do you have a good handle on any errors that are being generated by the server?

are you internally linking to any URLs that return a non-200 status code?

do you have any idea what percentage of your URLs have been recrawled since you made the changes?


4:15 pm on Nov 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Our 301 redirects on Panda content has worked for all internal pages but not the home page. Redirects were fully picked up and indexed within 3 weeks.


6:15 pm on Nov 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

phranque, thanks for weighing in over here :)
--do you have a good handle on any errors that are being generated by the server?

we are on a dedicated server and we have no server errors being reported in GWT ( and have only had a few due to a few minutes of outage at one point earlier in the year)

--are you internally linking to any URLs that return a non-200 status code?

good question. everything on our site is automated in a way that when we remove a product (for instance) any links to that product, such as in related products from other pages, are immediately removed. So our site is basically set up for that to be an impossibility. However, since we have implemented the 404's, I can now check in WMT to see what pages are linking to the 404 page, there are often a few external pages but there are also a lot of internal pages. I am currently on the assumption that those links don't actually exist as many of the 'linked from' pages are pages that are now 404 themselves.

--do you have any idea what percentage of your URLs have been recrawled since you made the changes?

Not exactly, i don't have easy access to my server logs unfortunately, so i pretty much gather all of my information through G Analytics and WMT. However, we have about 6690 pages indexed and the last time we were crawled heavily, On Nov 4th before the last Panda update, GWT shows that it did crawl abotu 7000 pages that day to an average of about 2000-3000 per day.

lewis1 >> 3 weeks sounds about the same time frame that tedster mentioned. You couldnt tell me how quickly new pages on your site are indexed when you add them? just wondering if there is any correlation between that and indexing a subdomain with a 301. As generally our new pages are indexed within 3 hours -24 hours at the longest.


6:34 pm on Nov 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I can now check in WMT to see what pages are linking to the 404 page

You do not need to wait for the WMT report - and if you wait, this may take some time. There are tools that you can run against your site which can tell you this. It is better to fix the problem before Google gets it than to leave it to Google to discover it and then go and fix it.


6:52 pm on Nov 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

aakk9999>>> I'm not actually too sure that there is anything there to fix however. As I mentioned above, our site is designed so that when a product is removed, then it is removed from all places on the site and therefore can not actually be linked. Fir instance, If a page is listed as having a link to a 404 page, I could check that page and every time that link would not exist OR, in some cases, the page listed is a 404 itself.

I would like to hear from anyone who has 404 pages that they can check in WMT. I am curious to know if WMT will report pages that have previously linked to the 404'd page for a period of time (as these are all relatively new 404's within the last 3 weeks)


8:56 pm on Nov 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm surprised that moving content to a subdomain would work. In one of Cutts' latest videos he in essence states google treats subdomains and sub-directories very similarly.



2:11 pm on Nov 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

smithaaa02>> correct me if im wrong, but i don't think that applies to the particular use of a sub domain that im am curious about. I agree with the video that when creating a website google will treat the two varying options the same or similarly. But int he instance of trying to have a whole site or portions of a site reindexed it may be different.

ie. my site may be hit by panda currently, but if i were to build this same exact site today and launch it, had it never existed before, maybe when it were indexed for the first time it would not automatically be launched into the internet with a crappy panda score... maybe...

:/ sorry, that is either going to make sense or my understanding of 301's to a subdomain are way off.


5:16 pm on Nov 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

My developer is swiftly making me realize that I know very little about what I am here asking you folks about as she has posed these questions to me and I don't have an answer for any of them.. I thought i'd post them here so see what the consensus was.

Really, I appreciate anyone who would take the time to read this.

Note: to be clear, we had been discussing moving the site or some parts of it to store.domain.com

1. If you make a category a "store." domain category one, does that mean all subcategories and all products within it also use “store.” instead of www.rockworldeast...?

2. Is a simple 301 redirect be a fine solution such that all the links in the site can still reference the page as a subpage of the main "www" site and if they click on a link to one of the "store." pages we redirect them to the store. version of the page at that time? Or should all links within the site to those pages be modified to point *directly* to the “store.” page in order to avoid that redirect *unless* it's being accessed directly at the non “store.” address?

3. Should we be using a different Google Analytics account when the site is on the “store.” domain?

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