The Google Search Relationships team discusses potential issues that can arise from domain changes in the latest episode of the Search Off The Record podcast.
This topic comes up a lot, but it’s examined from a different angle this time.
Google search attorney John Mueller, analyst Gary Ellis, and senior technical writer Lizzie Sussman explore the risks of moving a site to a new top-level domain.
Examine domain changes from a different angle
Roughly ten minutes into the podcast, Mueller breaks up the discussion by presenting a hypothetical scenario.
What happens if I combine the domain change with other changes to the URL?
“What happens if I change the domain, and go from ‘.ch’, which is a Swiss top-level domain, to ‘.com’? Is that a problem? Like if I combine the domain change with other things?”
In Ellis’ response, we learn that these changes need to be done in smaller portions over a period of months.
Making too many changes at once can lead to a drop in rankings and loss of traffic.
Here’s what Ellis says you should do instead.
Domain changes separated from other modifications
Illyes says you should separate domain changes from other mods as much as possible.
When discussing site transfers, it is suggested that breaking it down into smaller parts can be safer, especially for complex changes.
For example, if a website was moving from “example.ch” and “example.fr” to “example.com”, Illyes recommended moving “example.fr” first and waiting before moving “example.ch”.
Post site movements
Mueller and Sussman ask Ellis why he is so concerned about publishing the site’s movements.
Ellis admitted that many of the site moves he was involved in resulted in lost traffic.
He added that if a business’s website is experiencing a loss of traffic, waiting a long time, like a year, might not be an option.
Instead, they will likely pressure website administrators to correct changes and fix any errors.
Illyes also mentioned that misconfigurations, such as improper redirects, are common errors that can cause loss of traffic.
However, traffic should not be lost during a domain change if everything is done correctly.
The recovery time frame is not guaranteed
If all you do is redirect URLs from one site to another, there is a low risk of malicious effects.
On the other hand, if you lose ratings and traffic, there is no set time frame for a full recovery.
Earlier in the podcast, Mueller mentioned that Google is getting better at handling site movements. He “hardly” hears any complaints about them now.
Listen to the full podcast for more site transition insights from the Google Search Relationships team.
source: Search outside the registry
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