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Google SEO 101: Site Migrations

Google’s Martin Splitt addressed a series of common questions about site migrations in the latest SEO Mythbusting video.

Google’s Martin Splitt, and Glenn Gabe of G-Squared Interactive, get together to discuss the most common questions SEOs ask about site migrations.

Here’s a quick recap of each talking point, along with its corresponding time stamp in the video.

Redirecting images during a site redesign or migration (0:00)

It’s important to set up 301 redirects for images during a site migration, which is something that tends to be overlooked by site owners.

Will you always experience a drop in traffic with a domain name change or a site migration? (1:53)

A site move won’t always result in a loss of traffic.

Splitt says:

“If you are literally just moving from one domain to another, copying the entire URL structure and the entire content over, then you will not necessarily see a drop of traffic.”

Buying a new domain name with history & traffic anomalies (2:40)

There are certain situations when domain history may be a factor, particularly if it was previously used for spamming purposes.

Traffic anomalies may occur during a site move when the new site is not an exact 1:1 copy of the old one.

It’s risky to make changes as part of a site move, Splitt says, because Google will have to re-crawl and re-process everything.

Site merger vs site move (6:24)

A site move refers to moving everything from one domain to another. The end result should be an exact copy of the old site.

A site merger refers to combining two sites, which is by no means the same as a site move. The end result is treated as a whole new site.

What goes on on the Google side once a domain name change is triggered? (8:12)

When a site moves from one domain to another, and all redirects are in place, Google first checks for similarities between the old and new site.

Again, a true site move in Google’s eyes is creating an exact copy of an old site on a new domain.

If Google recognizes that a true site move has occurred, it will begin forwarding all signals from the old domain to the new one.

The speed at which this process is completed will vary from site to site.

Why would one use the Change of Address Tool? (10:16)

The change of address tool is a way for site owners to send additional signals to Google that a site move has taken place.

It’s a more explicit signal that tells Google a site has been moved permanently and it’s not just a temporary change.

If a site moves, is there a reassessment of content quality by Google? (11:15)

Google is constantly reassessing content quality regardless of whether there has been a site move.

Even if your content is considered high quality now, it doesn’t mean that will always be the case.

The reverse is also true. Low quality or spammy content could, in theory, be seen as high quality if improvements are made.

As mentioned earlier, if high quality content is copied from one domain to another during a site move, then the signals will follow as well.

Should you revert back if a site migration results in a major drop in traffic? (14:54)

Before hitting reverse on a site move, first check to make sure there are not any technical issues getting in the way.

Technical issues could be Google not recognizing the redirects, or the old site isn’t being crawled often enough for Google to pick up on the redirects.

If you’ve done everything right, and traffic has not improved after a month, then start looking into some outside help.

A site move should only be reverted if you’re completely out of options.

Should one unblock URLs normally blocked by robots.txt during a site migration? (17:31)

No, blocked URLs should not be unblocked during a site move.

Most common problems after a site moves & doing things step-by-step (18:16)

The most common problem site owners run into, as mentioned before, is making too many changes during a site move.

A site move should not be used as an opportunity to make changes to the site in any way. At least not until Google has crawled and reprocessed the new site.

See the full Google SEO Mythbusting video below:

Category News SEO
SEJ STAFF Matt G. Southern Senior News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt G. Southern, Senior News Writer, has been with Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a bachelor’s degree in communications, ...

Google SEO 101: Site Migrations

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