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After merging two sites to a third, using proper 301 redirects and transferring the domains in Google webmaster tools, overall traffic dropped by ~50%. One of the original sites was getting a plenty of organic traffic and had lots of backlinks. I have a feeling there are a few SEO mistakes I made during the merge.

This is two part question:

  1. If one is diligent in fixing SEO mistakes and patient, is it possible to regain most of a transferred / merged site's lost traffic?

  2. In this particular case, the traffic loss may have to do with the merged site having ~700 URLs (due to a forum) as opposed to the old site having ~40. Is there a high probability that this is the problem causing the loss in traffic? If not, what is the next thing I should check?

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If you are redirecting old pages to the new pages that have the same content as the redirected pages (and ideally the same URL structure), then patience is needed. I suggest that you look at the analytics of the old domains and see which pages brought most of the traffic. Track those to see whether or not you regained the old traffic.

But, if you are doing a redirect of all URLs of the domain just to the homepage of the new domain, then I doubt how effective this redirect will be.

I'm not sure I got your second question - you believe that the higher number of links is a disadvantage? Anyhow, if it's a forum, the links are probably nofollow'd, so I wouldn't count on it too much. In addition, 700 links from a forum sounds too much for me, it probably comes from a signature of someone and therefore I doubt how powerful it is.

You already mentioned that you made few mistakes, but some others check you can do:

1) Do a HTTP headers check to make sure it's valid 301.

2) Did you redirect ALL the URLs? If not, make sure you have a valid 404 page with good links on page to different parts of the site.

3) Where the drop of traffic comes from? Specific country? Mobile devices? Certain pages? More info could help to analyze it.

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  • Yep, I used 301 redirects from all the old pages to the new pages, not just to the homepage. Nearly the same URL structure too. I checked all the 301s with InternetOfficer's redirect checker. 700 URLs in the forum is genuine. It's roughly the number of topics. A good 404 is in place just in case. Aug 15 '14 at 0:44
  • The drop in traffic seems to be uniform. It's not a particular page, device or country. It seems to boil down to impressions. When I look in webmaster tools, the old site (the one without the forum) was getting around ~8000 impressions per day. After the merge, the new site gets only ~2500 impressions per day. Aug 15 '14 at 0:46
  • BTW, are you answering "yes" to question 1? Aug 15 '14 at 0:47
  • Yes, I am answering yes to question 1, just remember that you might not be able to regain 100% of the traffic. In these cases it's better to take extra efforts to create new traffic. Perhaps extra advertising or extra content, that will drive new links and social shares, to "refresh" the signals for your site. How long ago did you do the migration? If it is couple of months ago, did you already see some slight improvement over time?
    – dm-guy
    Aug 15 '14 at 7:19
  • It was two months ago that I did the migration. I haven't released any new content yet, but I do have plenty in the works. I haven't seen any improvement since. It was a steep drop to the lower amount of impressions and it's stayed there since. Aug 15 '14 at 22:11

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