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Big slump after domain migration - plus other oddities

     
8:07 pm on Oct 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Hey guys,

I've been trying to get some advice from anyone who knows anything about domain migrations but there's a lot of people out there who have advice but few who have actually been through it. I stumbled upon this place actually and after reading through quite a bit of stuff, seems like there's some people on here that may be able to help.

Almost 3 months ago I migrated 3 sites into one new domain, about 250 articles. I did my research beforehand and believe I migrated in the 'correct' way, using 301 redirects via htaccess and informing Google via the old GSC. The urls didn't change apart from the actual domain and all domains were https. After the migration, I performed all the usual tests and there weren't any 404's, all the old urls forwarded to new with no problems. I've had no manual actions on the new domain since. The canonicals are all good and I've submitted the sitemap, although not sure that does much anyway.

Organic traffic dropped by about 60% overnight, I knew I'd get a hit but didn't quite think it would be that much. Although some of my articles that were in the snippet previously are also in the same position in the new domain, the vast majority aren't. It seems totally random. The majority of articles are out of the SERP totally, literally not in the top 300. Another thing I notice is that when I used to manually index an article it would rank within a few minutes and be in the SERP somewhere. Now, it can take up to around 5 days to index. Also, sometimes the new article I post will index (visible via site:url) but then disappear a few hours later, why does it disappear? Organic traffic has not recovered and actually continues to drop week on week. None of the ~40 articles I've written since the migration are anywhere to be found in the SERP (although most are now indexed according to the GSC).

I've tried all kinds of things to 'fix' this. Creating a lot of new content, primarily. I've even employed SEO 'experts' who couldn't find anything wrong with the site or how I performed the migration.

I've read a lot of 'stuff' about migrations but not been able to speak to anyone who has been through this as yet.

Does anyone have any experience or thoughts about this? Is it just because the new domain has a lot less authority than the old ones? Doesn't explain why most posts aren't ranking though? Do I need to give it more time or is there a big secret level I can pull which will make everything okay again? :)

Help!

Matt
8:36 am on Oct 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Hello-

I do not have experience in this domain, but here are some thoughts :

- Migrating one site to a new domain, is one thing, merging several sites into a new domain, is a different story. I mean, when you just change the domain name of a site, Google says "okay, same site, different domain", so Google "should" consider the site the same way as before. But what happens, when you merge 3 sites into a single one? This is no longer the "same site", and you are not accumulating the "value" of the 3 sites. So I believe that, if you merge sites like that, Google considers the new domain a brand new site, and handle it that way. But it's just a guess.

- I don't know if this is still accurate, but years ago, Google said that, it was taking up to 6 months, to transfer/carry all the value of a site to a new domain.
10:10 am on Oct 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Welcome to WebmasterWorld biondi

It seems as though you have done all the basics correctly and merging isn't normally an issue if you have 301'd everything well.

My first question has to be is this a WordPress site?

If so then it could possibly be nightmare time with all sorts of conflicting issues however if it is a flat html site, other than waiting for G to "catch-up", I'll have to think further.

It can sometimes be several weeks/months for G to "sort-out" the new site structure however if all the urls are the same, that ought not to be a problem.

Are you 100% sure there's nothing in your htaccess or robots files?
10:40 am on Oct 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Hi guys - thanks for the help so far, appreciate the comments.

Yes, with hindsight - I should not have migrated all three into one but it's my own site and as always you think everything is just going to work out...

It is a Wordpress site yes - may I ask RedBar what conflicting issues there could be?

One of the .htaccess files is below, it's quite long but have just pasted the first few lines as I don't believe it will read further past the redirect? These lines are in all the old .htaccess files:

#Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^/(wp-login.php|wp-admin(.*)?)$
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://example.new/$1 [R=301,L]


The robots file doesn't have anything in. However, I have also manually checked the urls and they do all 301 to the new url.

Thanks,

Matt

[edited by: not2easy at 2:02 pm (utc) on Oct 15, 2019]
[edit reason] code readability [/edit]

12:53 pm on Oct 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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It is a Wordpress site yes - may I ask RedBar what conflicting issues there could be?


And therein may lay the problem plus I haven't a clue! WP is notorious for creating duplicate, triplicate and manifold issues that unless one knows what to look for one may feel one has a clean site yet may be creating back-up files and then G may start to wonder exactly what is going on?.

I honestly do not know enough about WP migration to be able to advise you about anything, hopefully someone else will come along soon, there are plenty of WP users here or go to this forum and ask:

[webmasterworld.com...]
2:00 pm on Oct 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Hi biondi, and Welcome to WebmasterWorld [webmasterworld.com] Using example.com or example.new is preferred to the use of <newurl> - for code readability - I'll fix that ;)

While this is not the forum for WP discussion or htaccess discussions, I have to ask - in addition to redirecting requests for the login to the old wp-admin/wp-login files, have the internal "WordPress Address" and "Site Address" settings been changed to their new URLs? That is under the Settings > General section of each WP site. Without those actual migration to their new URLs you would not have migrated the content - and having that in two places is going to give you a big obstacle to indexing that content somewhere else.

My suggestion is to start at the WP forum that RedBar linked above.
3:16 pm on Oct 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I've migrated single domains but never multiple domains. As JorgeV said this is almost like a new site as while the articles might be the same, but things like the home page, about us and others will not be.

It sound like you migrated everything at once. I would have probably done one at a time so you could monitor the changes between the old and new sites. When things settled down and you are happy with the results then migrate the next one.

You probably already found this 2015 case study from Moz but it is probably a good thing to review just incase you did forget anything

[moz.com...]
3:38 pm on Oct 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Thanks guys - with hindsight, yes migrating one at a time would have been more sensible but didn't predict such an impact as I wrongly assumed that link juice would come across with the 301's and the big G would just sort it all out for me. Live and learn...

I will post on the Wordpress site as instructed but I do appreciate your comments.

Matt