Google’s Search Relations team discusses the potential issues that can arise from site moves in the latest episode of the Search Off The Record podcast.
This topic comes up a lot, but it was examined from a different angle this time.
Google Search Advocate John Mueller, Analyst Gary Illyes, and Senior Technical Writer Lizzi Sassman explore the risks of moving a site to a new top-level domain.
Examining Site Moves From A Different Angle
At roughly ten minutes into the podcast, Mueller complicates the discussion by introducing a hypothetical scenario.
What happens if you combine a domain change with other changes to the URL?
“What happens if I do a domain change, and move from a “.ch”, which is a Swiss top level domain, to “.com”? Is that a problem? Like if I combine a domain change with other stuff?”
In a response from Illyes, we learned these changes should be done in smaller pieces over months.
Making too many changes at once could result in lower rankings and lost traffic.
Here’s what Illyes says you should do instead.
Separate Site Moves From Other Modifications
Illyes says you should separate domain changes from other modifications as much as possible.
When discussing site moves, he suggests that breaking them into smaller pieces can be safer, especially for complex changes.
For example, if a website is moving from “example.ch” and “example.fr” to “example.com,” Illyes recommended moving “example.fr” first and waiting before moving “example.ch.”
Spreading Out Site Moves
Mueller and Sassman question Illyes on why he’s so concerned about spreading out site moves.
Illyes admitted that many site moves he’s been involved with have resulted in lost traffic.
He added that if a business’s website is experiencing traffic loss, waiting for an extended period, such as a year, may not be an option.
Instead, they will likely pressure the website managers to debug the changes and identify any errors.
Illyes also mentioned that misconfigurations, such as incorrect redirects, are common mistakes that can cause traffic loss.
However, traffic shouldn’t be lost during a domain change if everything is done correctly.
Recovery Timeframe Not Guaranteed
If all you’re doing is redirecting URLs from one site to another, there’s a low risk for adverse effects.
On the other hand, if you do lose rankings and traffic, there’s no specific timeframe for a full recovery.
Earlier in the podcast, Mueller mentioned that Google is getting better at handling site moves. He “barely” hears any complaints about them now.
Listen to the full podcast for more insights about site moves from Google’s Search Relations team.
Source: Search Off The Record
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