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Two weeks ago, we attempted to make the URLs of ca. 12 pages more search-engine friendly. We changed three things.

1. Make URLs more SEF

from: /แอร์-ราคา/brandname.html (meaning: /aircon-price/daikin.html

to: /แอร์-brandnameinenglish-brandnameinthai.html

We set up 301-redirects from the old to the new URLs. You can find an example and the link to our page here: http://bit.ly/XRoTOK There are no direct external links to the old URLs.

2. Added text to img-links from homepage to brand-pages

Before those changes, we only linked to those brands with a picture, so we added some text under the picture. You can see that here, in the left submenu: http://bit.ly/XRpfoF

3. Minor changes to Title, h1-Tags, Meta Description, etc.

Only minor changes, to better match the on-site optimization with targeted keywords. For example, before we used full brand names, after we used what was really searched for:

from: Mitsubishi Electric Mr. Slim

to: แอร์ Mitsubishi (means: Aircon Mitsubishi)

Three days after these changes, we noticed a heavy drop (80% loss in non-paid search traffic) in rankings and traffic for those pages, and also for all pages which are sub-categorized. Rankings for all keywords not affected by the changes stayed the same.

Any ideas, what happened, and how we can regain our old rankings? We have already submitted a new sitemap.

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1 Answer 1

Well these are minor changes as compared to migrating from a old to new domain name. Google does have a set of rules to support that transition

  1. Make URLs more SEF

    • I believe what has happened is that Googlebot thinks that the site has duplicate content which receives negative points. As the old and new links point to almost similar content Googlebot thinks finds a sudden increase in duplicate content. Well first off, it would be great if you could revert your changes and then gradually apply 301 redirects to sets of pages. But I doubt this is possible.
    • 301 redirects are not bad and are actually encourage by Google.
    • My best bet is that you would need to tell Googlebot your preferred domain when it comes across such redirects. You do this by redirecting users to the preferred domain using permanent 301 redirects and emphasizing the new page is THE canonical page by setting the rel="canonical" attribute.
    • You may want to have a look at this link - handling cross-domain content duplication as it is similar to your issue.
  2. Added text to img-links from homepage to brand-pages

    • This again is a minor change. Webcrawlers would this page as a possible duplicate.
  3. Minor changes to Title, h1-Tags, Meta Description, etc.

    • Well Google for one ignore all Meta tags.
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FYI.. Google's notes regarding 301 and Meta tags. –  Kent Pawar Nov 18 '12 at 11:04
    
I think David is already using 301 redirects. Why would Google think of duplicate content? –  unor Nov 18 '12 at 16:41
    
Consider for a domain change, the Googlebot needs to be told that the developer has changed the domain name and Google will over time transfer the pagerank across to the new pages pointed by the original site(assuming there is a 1-1 301 redirect). Now if we dont tell google about this domain chnage it will see the content of site old-domain.com on the new-domain.com site and think it see's duplicate content.. I guess that's what is happening above. Google see's duplicate content when it finds that two URLs pointing to similar content. –  Kent Pawar Nov 19 '12 at 5:50
1  
There was no domain change, only an URL change –  David Nov 19 '12 at 6:31
    
@Kent: Google recognizes 301 redirects. So they see: "Ah, this old URL now points to this new URL, so I'll update my index". You'd get duplicate contant issues if you'd use no 301-redirect at all. What could happen though, is that Google temporarily lowers the ranking to watch what happens to the sites URLs. –  unor Nov 19 '12 at 11:17

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