Re-directing to a keyword URL tanked the rankings!


Marie Ysais

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I have a question.........

A client had a great url and was ranking really well organicaly for their keyword terms. They decided to buy a brand new URL that was a keyword rich domain. The issue is it wasn't a keyword that they were trying to rank for.
They old and seasoned domain that was doing well they re-directed to the brand new URL.
Well, the rankings tanked. The only thing that changed was the domain name from an old seasoned domain to a new domain.
My advice has been to revert the change and use their old seasoned URL that had the great rankings.

If they revert back to the old domain......what are the chances their rankings will return? Or will reverting just cause more problems? I need to find the solution to achieve their old rankings the fastest.

Any advice or old pros that has been there done that? :eek:
 

djbaxter

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I'm not sure whether you meant this for organic SEO or Local, but if it's organic I would definitely proceed as you are proposing: Revert the redirect back to the original domain. Then advise them to take the new keyword domain and redirect THAT to the old domain. That's what I would have advised in the first place.

Age of domain has shown itself to be an increasingly valuable factor in search algorithms. You need a really compelling reason to throw that away.

How long has the redirect been in place?
 

Marie Ysais

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Organic local! :) it is not for Google+ but organic local rankings. The new URL was before me as I inherited the issue. I feel the same as you in advice. The new URL has been in place for about four months. When I revert back I would expect old rankings to bounce back. Do you think there will be any issues or pulling out hair? In my mind its simple! :)
 

djbaxter

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You might want to wait for one or more of the Local people to come in tomorrow but I wouldn't expect any issues. There will likely be a bit of a lag but I can't imagine there'd be any real issue with regaining the old rankings.
 

Michael Usov

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Would be good to find out why the decided to to this in the first place. Weird to go to a new domain as opposed to aged. Even more weird if there not using that keyword. Also as you probably know even if the where using the keyword google is no longer giving points for EMD's. Personally would go back but would like to know why they changed first.
 

djbaxter

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EMDs still have some value, despite Google's statements to the contrary. But I agree... it's an odd and very risky thing to do when you have an established domain ranking well. As I said above, if you wanted the EMD, why not do a redirect on that to the existing domain?

But people do have strange ideas and they do strange things...
 
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EMDs still have some value, despite Google's statements to the contrary. But I agree... it's an odd and very risky thing to do when you have an established domain ranking well. As I said above, if you wanted the EMD, why not do a redirect on that to the existing domain?

But people do have strange ideas and they do strange things...
I have a Dentist that got a new EMD. I knew it would eventually rank well because G still loves EMDs for local.

I had his old ugly site ranking A forever and we didn't want to risk that ranking.

So I had him build the new site but with all NAP in an image so G could not read it and it would not interfere with his blended listing. Then I did the SEO on the new site and got it ranking high in organic. Our goal was to switch but I chickened out afraid it would ruin the A ranking. So he ended up building a new site on the old domain and I SEOed that one. He's still A with the old and is #2 organic with the EMD.

Is the new domain good for branding? Is the KW totally unrelated? I'd like to understand more too.

But I'd go back to the mature domain and then either try to build up the new one with a new site and hide NAP in images or just scrap it. I don't really see forwarding the domain if it's not a good fit.
 

djbaxter

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I am assuming the EMD has additional keyword(s) for which the client would like to rank.
 

Marie Ysais

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Yes, the EMD was an additional keyword they wanted to obtain because it had a high search volume. It does match the website in keywords but it was not a keyword the website was optimized for originally. They thought they could get the EMD, 301 re-direct their older domain and still rank really well and rank with their EMD.

They totally tanked all of their original rankings and with applying back links they remain tanked.

I have had hit or miss experience with EMD's. I do think Google still loves them.....but I have seen this kind of behavior or Google takes it and loves it!

They thought by doing the 301 re-direct of their older domain to the newer domain it would help gain the newer domain authority. But all of their social accounts still have their older domain listed.......not the newer domain.

On the same account I had a client do the exact same thing but it worked out really well..... there is no difference in the two accounts that I can find.

what am I missing?
 

Marie Ysais

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Hi Linda,
You mentioned preparing or back linking to the domain first before re-directing. Can we talk a little more in detail about that? Would you have the new domain go live with some content and then back link and gain authority and then do the re-direct?

thanks!
 

Broland

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There are a lot of factors and things to go over...

You said the 301 has been in place for 4 months? And the rankings tanked right after the 301 was implemented?

By tanked, do you mean not in top 50? top 100?

Does the site come up if you search using the site operator? site:domain.com

Was the site platform, and were all files kept the same? Sam site architecture?

How was the 301 implemented? Was a mod rewrite used?

Do you have GWT for the site? Did you have GWT for both domains? Did you check for messages, crawl errors etc? Was the 'Change of Address' feature used? (It is now under the setting drop down on the top right)

Was it a brand new, never been registered domain? Could it have been a dropped domain that was previously penalized?

There is some link flow loss with 301's and you can mess a lot of stuff up with them but if done correctly they shouldn't totally tank rankings. I'm probably forgetting a few things but hopefully answering those questions might help in figuring out what is going on.
 

Marie Ysais

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I have some answers to your questions:
You said the 301 has been in place for 4 months? And the rankings tanked right after the 301 was implemented?
The rankings tanked after the 301 was implemented and Google crawled the site.

By tanked, do you mean not in top 50? top 100?
Not in the top 100. Also, there is a lot of pages ranking for keywords that would typically not rank for that keyword such as blog articles and odd pages instead of the page that was previously ranking for that term.

Does the site come up if you search using the site operator? site:domain.com
Yes

Was the site platform, and were all files kept the same? Sam site architecture?
Yes entirely the same.

How was the 301 implemented? Was a mod rewrite used?
I am not entirely sure on this one but I can ask the developer. Is a particular method better than another?

Do you have GWT for the site? Did you have GWT for both domains? Did you check for messages, crawl errors etc? Was the 'Change of Address' feature used? (It is now under the setting drop down on the top right)
Yes, both sites had GWT. No Crawl messages or crawl errors of any type. The change of address feature was not used.
Was it a brand new, never been registered domain? Could it have been a dropped domain that was previously penalized?
Yes, brand new, no penalties.
There is some link flow loss with 301's and you can mess a lot of stuff up with them but if done correctly they shouldn't totally tank rankings. I'm probably forgetting a few things but hopefully answering those questions might help in figuring out what is going on.
Have you had success with re-directs? I am not a developer but I do explain what I need to happen which is a 301 re-direct of every page. But in this particular case I did not order this re-direct. I only picked this up after the rankings dropped.

I have done previous re-directs and had success over night and did not suffer a rankings drop. Any tips or tricks would be greatly appreciated.
 

Broland

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4 months is a really long time to have a penalty and not have figured out the cause, that may make it very hard to recover from if it was ever possible. Anyways...

For the method of implementing a 301 the important thing is that each existing page on the old domain is 301ed to a new page. A mod rewrite allows you to do that in .htacces without having to enter each page individually. Sometimes people make the mistake of only 301ing the root domain to the new root domain, but if that was the case here you would likely see crawl errors in GWT.

I would look at 'Links to Your Site' in GWT for the new domain and see if the links are coming through. Also take a look at impressions (search queries) on the old domain and confirm that the drop off was at the time of 301. Also compare the drop off dates to Penguin updates.

Also search the new domain in quotes in Google just "domain.com" and see if anything comes up that you don't recognize.

It sounds like it was either a penalized domain or the site was already borderline penalty, perhaps having tripped a filter already and the 301 was the last red flag that put it over the edge.

It also sounds like you "inherited" could mean there was a previous person or company that was doing SEO and they were trying to 301 out of a penalty that just hit or they knew was coming and the 301 may not have anything to do with it. It's hard to tell without all the specifics and being able to test and look at the individual domains - even then it can be hard to tell. But yes, as in your previous experience, shouldn't cause a big ranking drop.

If you want to PM or email me specifics I'll take a closer look when I can, but it may take me a few days or so to get to.
 

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