Google’s Guidance: Isolate Site Moves from Major Modifications

2 min read

Discover from the Search Relations team at Google how to reduce risks and prevent lost traffic when moving sites.

Renaming a website and other changes may cause it to drop in the search results and lose visitors.
Divining large site moves into smaller ones may be safer, particularly for intricate adjustments.
Misconfigurations resulting in lost traffic during a domain change are frequent and include incorrect redirects.

In the most recent edition of the Search Off The Record podcast, Google’s Search Relations team discusses the possible problems from site moves.

This is a frequently discussed topic looked at this time from a different perspective.

Senior Technical Writer Lizzi Sassman, Analyst Gary Illyes, and Google Search Advocate John Mueller discuss the dangers of transferring a website to a new top-level domain.


Taking a Deeper Look at Site Migrations


Around the ten-minute mark in the podcast, Mueller introduces a more complex angle to the conversation by presenting a hypothetical scenario.
He raises the question: What happens if a domain change is coupled with URL alteration?
Mueller probes, “What happens if I transition from a ‘.ch’ to a ‘.com’ domain? Is this a concern when combining a domain shift with other modifications?”
Illyes responds, emphasizing that such modifications should be executed gradually over several months.
Implementing numerous alterations simultaneously may lead to decreased rankings and traffic loss. Illyes outlines a recommended approach to avoid these pitfalls.


Separate Site Transitions from Other Adjustments


Illyes emphasizes the importance of isolating domain alterations from other modifications whenever possible.
Regarding site transitions, he recommends breaking them down into more miniature stages, particularly for intricate changes.
For instance, in the scenario of a website transitioning from “example.ch” and “example.fr” to “example.com,” Illyes advises executing the move for “example.fr” first, followed by a pause before shifting “example.ch.”


Spacing Out Site Transitions


Mueller and Sassman query Illyes on his emphasis on spreading out site transitions.
Illyes acknowledges that many site transitions he’s encountered resulted in traffic loss. He notes that if a website experiences traffic decline, waiting extensively, like a year, might not be feasible. Instead, there could be pressure on website managers to rectify errors promptly.
Misconfigurations, particularly incorrect redirects, are common mistakes leading to traffic drops, according to Illyes.
However, a domain change should not cause traffic loss if executed correctly.


Uncertain Recovery Period


The risk of adverse impacts is minimal in scenarios where URLs are redirected from one site to another. Nevertheless, there’s no defined timeline for complete recovery if rankings and traffic are affected.

If navigating these strategies feels overwhelming, explore our monthly SEO packages to enlist expert assistance and clarity in optimizing your approach.

Shilpi Mathur
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