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Our company recently had a new website designed for them to replace the old one that was literally made sometime in the mid-90's. The new site went live a couple of months ago. I have just been asked to figure out why our search ranking went from top 5 to 2nd+ page oblivion in the Google organic results for our target keywords. I am an application developer not a web designer, but on my initial investigations I notice that our old sub-pages (pages describing certain products and services) do a 301 redirect straight to the new homepage.

The problem here is that I believe all of the search authority for the old site came from these pages located off the main domain, i.e. - www..com/. Because our home page was basically just a collection of links that pointed to these other pages, which actually had a bit of text on them. Ideally I think these would need to redirect to pages on the new site that serve as a replacement. Is it too late to re-redirect the bots. It appears that all browsers will have permanently cached the redirect, but perhaps not the crawlers? Would it be too late to try and tell the bots exactly what new pages replace the old ones and provide a similar amount of text on the new page with similar content to regain our search ranking?

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    Ideally I think these would need to redirect to pages on the new site that serve as a replacement. Is it too late to re-redirect the bots. Short answer? No. You are right about redirecting to relevant content. While it has been a while, it is never too late for a proper redirect. However, do not expect immediate success. It will take a while for these redirects to be noticed and the SE metrics to be updated. Cheers!! – closetnoc Oct 5 '17 at 17:02
  • FWIW, mass redirects to the home-page are likely to be seen as soft-404s by Google, regardless of the content on the page. You should register the property with GSC to be alerted to these types of errors. – MrWhite Oct 6 '17 at 9:44
  • The browser might have cached the redirect, but you may still be able to send them some HTTP headers that tell them to ignore the cache and force reload. You should be able to control your website's cache policy to a degree. – xji Oct 21 '17 at 11:19
  • @JIXiang - You can only send the browser headers if it requests a file. The whole point of the cache is to not request the file, in which case you will not be able to tell the browser how long to cache a file for which the cache has not expired. – Ian Oct 22 '17 at 14:52
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In my experience it is not too late even a year later if the site had a good reputation in Google's eyes. I have seen a site be off-line for months and then reappear after it has been found live again.

The strategy to do a 301 redirect is an important one in SEO and it is based on relevance. What the OP says about the first redirect is clearly not relevant, ie. pages deep on the site had different topics to the home page of the site and they ranked for those subjects. Now a redirect from off-topic (ie other than the home page) will lose the relevance factor and thusly drop in the rankings.

The reason why a change in a redirect will work even much later, is the fact that Google keeps on indexing your site and its pages and when it finds changes, it will simply take these into account. Thusly a change can't ever be too late.

I am going to be doing a site revamp with several hundreds of pages later this year and the job of 301 is a top priority on my list of todos.

  • I still think you are missing part of my question. Wouldn't Google have already cached the 301 redirects pointing to the new homepage? – Ian Oct 9 '17 at 23:33
  • Google re-crawls redirecting URLs periodically. It is fine to change them and Gooogle will pick up on the changes in time. – Stephen Ostermiller Oct 10 '17 at 1:14
  • Thanks Stephen for pointing out why it works later on, I added this to my answer as the OP has a point about not explaining it thoroughly – sakumatto Oct 11 '17 at 3:56
  • Hello, I have a similar problem. I made a new site for our company but registered it in google first, and then made a 301 redirect from cPanel (from our hosting). Now the old site appears as it did before in the SERP, but the new one isn't coming up, it has been about 10 days or so and still no progress. I have sent a couple of requests to the google crawling machine for both the old and the new site. The site isn't too big (40 pages at ~350 rows of code each). They are on the same hosting server, but they use different domains (the old site was as a subdomain, now we bought a separate one). – Denislav Karagiozov Oct 13 '17 at 12:06
  • If a site isn't showing up on the Google results it might also be that you need to wait a little. Google has lately started slowing down the rate it shows a site that a couple of years ago would have shown up in the rankings. My recommendation is that 10 days is too short a time to panic. – sakumatto Oct 15 '17 at 5:38
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Imo it's never too late to upgrade seo. There are so many factors that affect seo (estimated 200ish) with Google. Definitely need to get your text optimized for rank brain and Google search (long tail conversational searches) I'm reworking one from the early 90s old Yahoo Builder. If you rebuilt it why do you need the redirects? Are you sitting on the old URL? What program is the new site built in?

  • The design was outsourced and the site was built in WordPress by someone else. I cloned it out to a static HTML site so I can easily minify the CSS and JS and pick through the stuff. It's a pretty simple site. I wasn't asking if its too late to do SEO in general, but if it was too late to regain the authority of those old pages and apply them to the new ones. – Ian Oct 6 '17 at 14:28
  • Ok i hear you, I saw on reading it the second time something about a bunch of links (sorry missed that b4) I have been upgrading a ton of old sites i just rebuild and park the new site when it's done at the url the old one was on but i havent had any links to other peoples content to deal with. – Epic Equine Oct 6 '17 at 16:45
  • Its not links to other peoples stuff. It's the sites own pages that weren't redirected to new pages with the same content. Basically we reduced the amount of pages and ended up redirecting all old pages to the home page, which I think resulted in us losing a bunch of authority we built on the old pages over the years. – Ian Oct 6 '17 at 17:19
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Firstly, it’s definitely not too late to sort out the redirects. As others have mentioned search engines will periodically crawl old URLs and pick up any changes and update where appropriate. I’m actually working on fixing some redirects at the moment that are over 3 years old

From the situation you describe it is quite likely that most of the problem is the fact that you are redirecting the old content pages to the homepage of the new site rather than doing one to one mapping where possible to the same or similar content on the new URL

Google provide a good guide on the steps of moving to a new domain which obviously you would normally go through during the process but it can certainly be used in retrospect as well.

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6033085?hl=en&ref_topic=6033084

Although it sounds like there have been issues with this migration. even with all content mapping and redirects correctly set up it is quite normal to see some fluctuations in the first month or so after a move.

Also bear in mind that there are a lot of other factors that can have an impact such as page layout, quality of code, site performance, whether content is being dynamically served, internal linking etc and all of these can also impact rankings.

Google have some fairly clear guidelines on what they are looking for in a good site in terms of general performance, quality and content

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en

If you are able to post the old and new URL’s then we might be able to see if there are any other issues with the new site.

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Oh yeah OK i see. So you redirected the links for pages you didn't want to use anymore to go to the homepage thus elimination that content.

I ran into something similar with this site i'm on now. it had TONS of pages and text i wanted to pare it down to something reasonable.... when i cut out a lot of the text overloaded pages we dropped in seo which i attribute to visitors spending less time on the site as well as a few other things

Can you add the content back in as archived blog posts? or if not blog just maybe a menu item called archive or something? My gut says your right about the seo drop I would look for ways to optimize what you have and possibly add the old stuff in some organized way Also try running Youst (SP) if the sites on WP i've had really good luck with it and have several rebuilt sites ranking top 3 for our most used keywords

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