Migrated to new domain, 70% drop in traffic

8 replies
  • SEO
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11 days ago I moved my Wordpress site from a subdomain to its own new domain with its own branding. It had previously fallen under the branding of the main domain.

There has been a drop in Google search traffic each day since the move. On day 10-11 the traffic appears to have leveled off at 70% below where I was before. I'm concerned about whether this is long term.

I have done the following relevant to SEO so far:
  1. Purchased the new domain 3 weeks prior to the move. It was never used in the past.
  2. Changed my old htaccess to a wildcard 301 redirect for all pages. They are redirecting fine.
  3. Cleaned my new site of all references to the old domain and old name
  4. Updated all my other website links to point to the new site
  5. Registered new social media profiles for the new site, worked on building them
  6. Created a new Google Analytics property. Is recording traffic fine.
  7. Created Search Console site, submitted change of address from old subdomain to new site, submitted sitemap and target country. Search Console shows no significant issues.
  8. Requested backlink updates from authoritative sites

Anything I'm missing?

Any idea how long I may be in the dumps? Could this be a permanent demotion from moving away from the trusted domain?
#70% #domain #drop #migrated #traffic
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  • Profile picture of the author Janice Sperry
    Good job! Maybe someone else will see some glaring thing you missed but I don't. Looks to me like you took all the right steps.

    I have seen big changes like that affect rankings and traffic anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

    It might not be your whole site overall. There might be a few keywords that got a lot of clicks that have dropped in ranking. There might be a few pages/posts that were getting a lot of traffic that have gone down to almost zero. Update those posts with some new content even just a few sentences, a new image, a new H2 subheading, etc. Then "Fetch" it through your Google Search Console. Get a new quality backlink or two to the post(s).

    The idea is not to just wait on Google but to be proactive.
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    • Profile picture of the author squeebo
      It's definitely the site as a whole. All the top pages dropped in views, presumably while Google gradually deindexed the old site over several days and replaced it with the new one that for whatever reason it isn't ranking as high.
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  • Profile picture of the author squeebo
    So it's been 5 weeks, and the traffic volume is not recovering at all. It appeared that it was starting to recover, but then last week it dropped back down to its low that occurred 10 days after the move. If anything now it's going further down.

    Any ideas? I've hired an SEO specialist, asked a former Google employee, and searched endlessly online, but nobody can offer any good suggestions as to what could be wrong or what I should do to fix it.

    I'm not looking for general SEO advice. I need to find out why my traffic has dropped, and what I can do about fixing the problem.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    In spite of all the preparation you did - your site becomes a 'new' site when you change the domain. It will probably come back quicker than the old site initially gained rank and traffic....but no guarantee.


    It's not 'ranking as high' because it is not the same site.
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  • Profile picture of the author ryanbiddulph
    What Kay said Squeebo; you did an awesome job making the site as search friendly as possible but if it is 5 weeks out, and you see the same drop, it's more evidence that Google sees your site as a new site. Just their rules.

    I would immediately let go your heavy attachment to stats and reframe your perspective; your are starting this new site being armed with the latest search knowledge....so give 100% of your attention and energy for this to to creating helpful content and bonding with other bloggers by helping them out. You will get links in and guest posting invites thru friendships formed, and of course, being patient, you'll see your new site age domain-wise. Combined with your creating and connecting, your metrics will improve.

    This is Google's way of ensuring every new domain earns its stripes, on its own. Can be annoying but it leads to a better search experience.

    Ryan
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  • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
    Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

    In spite of all the preparation you did - your site becomes a 'new' site when you change the domain. It will probably come back quicker than the old site initially gained rank and traffic....but no guarantee.


    It's not 'ranking as high' because it is not the same site.
    Originally Posted by ryanbiddulph View Post

    What Kay said Squeebo; you did an awesome job making the site as search friendly as possible but if it is 5 weeks out, and you see the same drop, it's more evidence that Google sees your site as a new site. Just their rules.

    I would immediately let go your heavy attachment to stats and reframe your perspective; your are starting this new site being armed with the latest search knowledge....so give 100% of your attention and energy for this to to creating helpful content and bonding with other bloggers by helping them out. You will get links in and guest posting invites thru friendships formed, and of course, being patient, you'll see your new site age domain-wise. Combined with your creating and connecting, your metrics will improve.

    This is Google's way of ensuring every new domain earns its stripes, on its own. Can be annoying but it leads to a better search experience.

    Ryan
    Both of these responses are just utterly wrong. Your site is not struggling because "Google sees it as new".

    Websites and businesses rebrand all of the time. They move from one domain to a new domain. This is the exact kind of situation that 301 redirects were designed for.

    Within the SEO community itself there was a great example of this just a few years ago when SEOmoz rebranded to just Moz and moved their domain from SEOmoz.org to Moz.com. Google didn't decide it's a new site and they have to start all over. That would be stupid. It was the same company.

    If your traffic is down over 70% after 5 weeks, it is because there is something wrong.

    It is entirely possible that you have just a couple of keywords that were responsible for a large majority of your traffic and they are now ranking 1-2 spots lower than before which can result in a huge drop in traffic.

    Without seeing the sites involved, and probably without having access to things like analytics and maybe even search console it is going to be difficult for anyone to diagnose.

    You could have redirection chains. You may have changed your internal link structure. You may have not updated your internal links. The 301's could be implemented incorrectly (although you did say they are working fine).

    There is a whole host of possible problems.

    Unlike some of the responses in this thread, just burying your head in the sand and hoping it fixes itself over time is not a course of action I would advise.
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    • Profile picture of the author squeebo
      My htaccess on the old site is these 3 lines (redacted).

      Code:
      RewriteEngine on 
      RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !/googlexxxxxxxxxxxx.html$
      RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://www.newdomain.com/$1 [R=301,L]
      It isn't just a couple keywords or pages. I checked my top 10 pages and they all exhibit the same pattern.

      The internal link structure hasn't changed. I packaged and moved the site from one domain to another with a WP plugin. I tested the site for 404 and other errors afterwards. I edited the htaccess file to update the very few domain references.

      I searched and cleaned the databases of all remaining references to the old domain. The links in menus and template files are all correct.
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  • Profile picture of the author paulgl
    You can 301 or htaccess until you are blue in the face.

    You did not just move an old website on an old domain to a new domain.

    I have no idea why you used wordpress anyway...but I digress.

    What you did was toss the baby out with the bathwater.

    The entire structure of a wordpress site are in many ways like comparing spaghetti to lasagna.

    Wordpress is a bloated piece of sewage, with crapola tossed in for good measure, tamped down with the worst CMS on the planet.

    But you shmoozed that POS into a ranking "website."

    Then you over thought it, as many do. Hey, I need a domain...or a better domain.....or a pie in the sky over the top domain! The world is MINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HA HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Unless you actually put your entire wordpress site and files, exactly as created, using the exact same server calls, permissions, includes, scripts, mysql, php, asp, html, kitchen sink, etc.....then you are

    screwed. And the process of actually being able to do that would be dang near impossible.

    What happened was someone putting the skin of a mercedes on top of a ford escort , then thinking they actually have a mercedes.....then wondering why this thing aint performing like a mercedes....

    Paul
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