joined:Sept 10, 2018
Iím afraid you may be on a long road to recovery. Something similar happened to me at the end of June. Iíll go through it to give you an idea of the timescale and the complications Iíve faced that might have made things worse for me.
In my case I was switching to https, except it wasnít a straightforward move because I couldnít afford a wildcard SSL certificate, so I had to move all of my pages off subdomains onto my www site.
It absolutely trashed my traffic, I was at about 4K at the time, about half of which was from Google. (This is after suffering from an algorithm change in March that dropped me from about 10K). I dropped to about 800 visitors.
All of my rankings fell. Some pages disappeared completely for a couple of weeks.
I believe most of the traffic I lost was from very long tail and unique queries that use the ďneural matchingĒ algorithm, although thatís speculation.
Iíve spoken to a couple of SEOs online who think I might have been put in a spam sandbox because I have a lot of exact match backlinks, just as a result of the way people share my site. I am 100% white hat.
Iíve also considered the possibility of a mobile first ad related penalty, as Google ďhelpfullyĒ switched me to mobile first about four days after I initiated the site move, and a handful of my pages violated the 30% height rule (which I didnít know about) but I just donít know.
I made a lot of site quality improvements. Iíve honestly been working twelve hours a day ever since it happened.
I had a partial recovery during the mini core update on September 27th, and I almost have the same traffic as before the move to SSL.
Iím not sure exactly how it works but Google seems to need to respider and follow backlinks before it really understands that a site has moved.
Google has now respidered all 60k of my backlinks. I still donít have my rankings back. I was in position 1-2 for almost all of my pages. Iím currently in position 3-4 depending on the page, though Iím starting to see the occassional position 2.
Iím starting to get very long tail ďneural matchingĒ type searches back now, though that could be because Iíve made a lot of changes regarding relevancy and ensuring my topic coverage is a lot more comprehensive.
I believe I will have to wait for the next core update before I see a significant improvement. Iím just hoping it comes before Christmas so I can afford to live again!
Iíve read stories from people whoíve had bad site moves who said they just reverted back to their old domain and recovered their rankings and traffic.
If I were to do a site move again I think Iíd try and get a second site ranking with new content and then move things over a page at a time, as not to trigger any sudden shocks to Googleís algorithms and over-zealous spam sandboxes.
(I wanted to move my subdomains one at a time, except Google responded to the SSL certificate install on my www subdomain by changing all of my other subdomain addresses to https in the serps which broke the site for users because I didnít have the wildcard SSL, which forced me to do the site move all at once.)
I think if you have a lot of backlinks coming from one blog that could have triggered a sandboxing effect, if the sandbox is real.
It may just be a case of waiting it out. Iíve heard site moves can take six months to see a full recovery.
Edit: by the way I couldnít do an address change in webmaster tools because you canít redirect to specific urls. That may have made things worse for me.
[edited by: broccoli at 6:25 pm (utc) on Nov 12, 2018]