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The company I worked for changed their domain about a month ago and updated the URLs for all of the pages. We mostly removed the .aspx from the ends and decreased the depth of many of our pages. We created a sitemap.xml for the new site and added 301 redirects from the old pages to the new within the site. We did update our address through Googles Webmaster tool so they know.

Once Google crawled our site we saw a drop in our Google imprints from nearly 1000 to just 20-30 a day. We know we missed a few redirects that have now been fixed (probably less than 10%) but we are still not going back up in impressions.

Is there anything we should be looking into or is this just a natural occurrence caused by us switching pages and domains?

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up vote 12 down vote accepted

While you seem to have solved your problem, you may still experience this same phenomenon going forward. 301 Redirects are Google's recommended way to move content, however they have at least some decaying effect on Page Rank. Google's Matt Cutts was interviewed in March 2010 by Stone Temple Consulting. From the full transcript of his interview:

Eric Enge: Let’s say you move from one domain to another and you write yourself a nice little statement that basically instructs the search engine and, any user agent on how to remap from one domain to the other. In a scenario like this, is there some loss in PageRank that can take place simply because the user who originally implemented a link to the site didn't link to it on the new domain?

Matt Cutts: That's a good question, and I am not 100 percent sure about the answer. I can certainly see how there could be some loss of PageRank. I am not 100 percent sure whether the crawling and indexing team has implemented that sort of natural PageRank decay, so I will have to go and check on that specific case. (Note: in a follow on email, Matt confirmed that this is in fact the case. There is some loss of PR through a 301).

Since your content has not changed, just the paths that get you there, as the new links begin to age your Page Rank should return to its previous levels.

Note that this question referred specifically to changing domains, and not to inter-domain redirects, so the effect may be less noticeable.

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Thanks for posting that; I was only aware of limits on the number of 301s followed, not that there was generational loss as well. +1 –  JasonBirch Jul 13 '10 at 23:24
    
+1 - A fantastic and comprehensive answer! –  Tim Post Jul 15 '10 at 9:54
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I figured out my issue.

You can use a Google Analytics account to track a domain and if you change the domain name and do a 301 redirect from the old to the new you can use the same Analytics tracking code. Note, the 301 isn't required though.

However, Google Webmaster does not work the same. When you switch domain names you will need to add the new domain to your domains in your Webmaster account.

Also, there will be some artifacts on your old domain. For instance Google may try to search for specific pages from its cache on the old domain and any related errors will show up for you old domain. In addition, you will still see some page ranking returns for the old domain for at least 2 weeks afterwords, if not even longer. This seems odd to me but I am assuming it is Google's caching system and if you do all of your redirects correctly it will not be an issue.

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It might be worth expanding out your answer so that people who have the same problem in the future understand what they have to do. Are you talking about Adwords impressions? –  Mark Hatton Jul 13 '10 at 21:46
    
How did you get away with not creating the new domain in GWT? When I used their "change of address" functionality recently, I had to add and verify the new domain before I could set the change of address. –  DisgruntledGoat Jul 14 '10 at 11:14
    
Well there is me and another guy that works for my company and he setup the other domain. He isn't much of a team player so I hadn't talked through my issue with him til yesterday. –  RandomBen Jul 14 '10 at 12:12
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