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We have a 3Dcart store and a WordPress blog hosted on a separate server. Originally, we had a CNAME set up to point the blog to http://blog.example.com/. However, in our attempt to boost link-based and traffic-based authority on the main site, we've opted to do a reverse proxy to http://www.example.com/blog/.

It’s been about two months since we finished the reverse proxy migration. It appears that everything is technically working as intended, including some robots and sitemap changes; the new URLs are even generating some traffic, as indicated on Google Analytics.

While Google has been indexing the new URL locations, they’re ranking very poorly, even for non-competitive, long-tail keywords. Meanwhile, the old subdomain URLs are still ranking mostly as well as they used to (even though they aren’t showing meta titles and descriptions due to being blocked by robots.txt).

Our working theory is that Google has an old index of the subdomain URLs, and is considering the new URLs to be duplicate content, since it’s being told not to crawl the subdomain and therefore can’t see the rel canonicals we have in place. To resolve this, we’ve updated the subdomain’s robot.txt to no longer block crawling and indexing. Theoretically, seeing the canonical tag on the subdomain pages will resolve any perceived duplicate content issues.

In the meantime, we were wondering if anyone would have any other ideas. We are very concerned that we’ll be losing valuable traffic, as we’re entering our on season at the moment.

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Either way, canonical tag or blocking using the robots.txt, you will be waiting a quite a while for this to sink in. Both solutions sound fine to me. I prefer using the robots.txt file, however others may argue and they would not necessarily be wrong. You are probably right about duplicate content at least in the short-term. I think you should be okay. You will just have to wait. If someone can give a good answer, I will leave room for that. –  closetnoc Jun 10 at 16:51

1 Answer 1

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You are correct that the robots.txt file is the problem. When you blocked your old subdomain with robots.txt:

  • Google couldn't crawl your blog in its old location and see that it moved.
  • You lost all the value from the external inbound links to your blog.

Your new solution of removing the robots.txt file and using a link rel canonical tag is a much better idea. Now:

  • Google will crawl the old blog and find out that it moved.
  • Your PageRank from external links into your old blog location will get correctly attributed to the new blog location.

The only problem is that your site was unavailable to Google for two months. When a site is unavailable for a long period of time, Google often removes its rankings for a period of time, even after it comes back. I've seen that before with badly applied nofollow meta tags, and with extended server downtime.

In the best case, your blog will be ranking again in a couple weeks when Google recrawls all of it. I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't rank well for two to six months due to its extended unavailability.

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Thank you very much for your response. We're already seeing the subdomain results dropping off of SERPs, while the new links are slowly climbing to take their place. We're still seeking out a couple more opinions on the issue, but we'll probably just sit tight and wait to see results. –  BaButtons Jun 11 at 17:29

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