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Will transferring domain carry over penalty?

     
10:26 am on Aug 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Hello!

I have a big client: very well-known brand, millions of subscribers, monthly pageviews of over 30 million. Let's call it "Cool XYZ Widgets Inc." and its domain xyzwidgets dot com.

For some reason it got penalized or hit by a Google update. The nature of the penalty is unknown. It could be technical, link quality, content-related, etc. Imagine it can't be fixed.

Now, if we transfer to a different domain, say coolxyzwidgets dot com, and retain the brand "Cool XYZ Widgets Inc.", will whatever Google's problem was with xyzwidgets dot com be carried over to coolxyzwidgets dot com since they still know that the new domain is the same brand? Note that any content, article, or page from the old domain will not be transferred to the new, no redirection of any URL whatsoever.

Thanks a lot everyone!
12:01 pm on Aug 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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You are likely going to still have trouble and there is a good chance it will be worse than the current situation.

1) "no redirection of any URL whatsoever"
Ok, so you are launching a new domain without any backlinks. Sites with zero backlinks tend to perform poorly.

2) "any content, article, or page from the old domain will not be transferred"
What value will the new site provide if it has no content? I assume you are creating new content but building a critical mass of valuable content takes time. If you are transferring no content, it also implies to me that your existing content is bad. If your current content is bad, are you hiring new content people or reusing the people that created that content? You may end up creating new content that is still bad.

3) "nature of the penalty is unknown"
If you don't know the penalty you can't fix the problem. You may abandon the old domain, content & links but the site is keeping the same SEO team. If a SEO team can't diagnose a penalty then the odds are good the penalty will reappear on the new site.

Ask yourself if the competition did this to their site/domain, why would it succeed? Looking at it from that POV helps to minimize the bias that comes from working on your own project.
8:45 pm on Aug 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I had in the past some penalities and I lifted them

You must analyze which is the best for you? invest time to think and test which is the issue or create a new site thinking about which features did not like Google and penalize it. As goodroi says, you must think if the penalty is about content, you should write new content and if is about links you must build them again and avoid using redirects that could harm the new site... also think that a new site will perform poorly for a lot of time as goodroi says.

My suggestion is make an effort to solve the issues... I expend 11months analyzing and making tests to know where was the problem lift the manual penalization... today I know that I still have some algorithmical penalizations (about links) but the site slowly is going up

good luck
I
8:15 am on Aug 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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very well-known brand
millions of subscribers
monthly pageviews of over 30 million

The nature of the penalty is unknown.
any content... will not be transferred to the new, no redirection of any URL whatsoever


Right, so without diagnosing the problem, you are going to trash a brand and jeopardise 30 million pageviews and "millions" of subscribers, with no technical mitigation of the traffic loss?

That seems like literally the worst possible approach to take. But to answer your actual question:

No, Google will not carry over the penalty. It does not penalise "brands" - it penalises sites/pages. Redirects might push the penalty on, but anecdotally, that would be unusual.

It is far more likely, as GoodROI says, that you will simply recreate the issue on the new site, since you have no idea what it was/is.

Final point. Why are you more concerned with Google traffic acquisition than losing "millions" of Direct Traffic, in the form of subscribers?
4:29 pm on Aug 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The same site on a new domain might get a penalty, but honestly I doubt Google will detect it. But the OP specifically said the content wasn't moving, so that will definitely not be a "site move". It will be a new site, tied only to the old by a brand name.
So we know that if you have a penalty on your site and you move your site to a new domain and redirect the URLs to that new domain, the penalty will flow because of the redirects. That is known.
That's not actually known. That's theorised. I haven't moved a penalised domain myself, but many reports on this forum over the years have claimed a site with 301s of key pages (not the whole site) has recovered on a new domain.

But I would still not be moving domain without identifying the problem.
4:31 pm on Aug 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Google's John Mueller told me yesterday in a video at 23 minutes and 15 seconds
Is that a publicly available video?
9:50 pm on Aug 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Shaddows, see this in Search Engine Roundtable, from which the sentence you quoted had been scraped. I've had to remove that post....

Google Penalties Might Follow You To A New Domain Name
Feb 25, 2014 - by Barry Schwartz
[seroundtable.com...]

John said that if you have a site with a penalty and you take the site and simply move it to a new domain name, even without using the site migration tool or setting up redirects, Google may figure out it was a site move and pass along the penalty.

Many more side issues were touched upon in Barry's article, which includes the video.

6:55 am on Aug 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Good stuff everyone, thanks for taking time to reply.

2) "any content, article, or page from the old domain will not be transferred"
What value will the new site provide if it has no content? I assume you are creating new content but building a critical mass of valuable content takes time. If you are transferring no content, it also implies to me that your existing content is bad. If your current content is bad, are you hiring new content people or reusing the people that created that content? You may end up creating new content that is still bad.


Yes content is one of our suspects why we're experiencing Google trouble. Not the quality though, it's topnotch. More on the topic/subject of the content.

3) "nature of the penalty is unknown"
If you don't know the penalty you can't fix the problem. You may abandon the old domain, content & links but the site is keeping the same SEO team. If a SEO team can't diagnose a penalty then the odds are good the penalty will reappear on the new site.


OK at this point I'll come out clean... we were hit by the June 24/25 update which as far as we know no one knows what caused yet.

Ask yourself if the competition did this to their site/domain, why would it succeed? Looking at it from that POV helps to minimize the bias that comes from working on your own project.


Good point!

Right, so without diagnosing the problem, you are going to trash a brand and jeopardise 30 million pageviews and "millions" of subscribers, with no technical mitigation of the traffic loss?


We are diagnosing the problem and at the same time exploring options for worst case scenarios, thus this thread :)

Why are you more concerned with Google traffic acquisition than losing "millions" of Direct Traffic, in the form of subscribers?


We are concerned as well with our direct traffic, but Google is our top source of new users so both are equally important.

John said that if you have a site with a penalty and you take the site and simply move it to a new domain name, even without using the site migration tool or setting up redirects, Google may figure out it was a site move and pass along the penalty.


Interesting!

Just to be clear, I am not saying we will do this 100%. This is more of a worst-case scenario option. All efforts are being done to fix the existing site, all repercussions of moving to a new site is being considered and evaluated. The question we have now is if the existing site is penalized, and if we move to a completely new site carrying the same brand name, without transferring content or redirecting anything, will the penalty be carried over?
 

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