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I have a client that recently purchased an industry-related proprietary CMS solution for their website. This company went through the typical designs, and helped them set up their website, etc. etc.

There are quite a few pages (approx 35) that have duplicate content on the new site that I have been rewriting, and a few other CMS related issues that I have no control over.

For the longest time their website ranked at the top of Google (#2 or #3) with the old website I had built for them. The keyword's they want to rank for are local and not that competitive.

The client was in a big rush to get this website launched, so we 301 redirected each corresponding page to the new website on Monday and planned on working on these other changes over time.

The client noticed today they are no longer ranking for any of their desired keywords (I see about a 6 - 7 serp drop) and they are now freaking out about this being their busiest time of the year....

My questions are:

  1. Should I revert the 301 redirect and hope it picks up its placement again until their busy season ends?
  2. Should I leave the site as-is, work through the changes as fast as possible, and wait for Google to finish its fluctuations and return the rank?

Any recommendations are greatly appreciated!

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    Either way, the damage is done. It would take at least a month to regain any ranking for the old pages and probably a good two months to have the new pages properly soak into the SERPs. Never make changes to a site that is working when you need it to. Duh! You knew that. Any changes made will just take time to work out wither way. A 6-7 drop in the SERPs is really not bad and due to the page changes. Pages in the 4-10 positions are said to perform better anyhow. Who knows for sure. If it were my site, I would pay the piper now and just move forward. You know. Live with the consequences. – closetnoc Oct 10 '14 at 4:25
  • That was my overall thought, I wasn't sure if reverting would have any chance of regaining its rank since this drop happened so suddenly. I have changed websites over before without any noticeable drop in ranking and didn't realize the client was already in their busiest season otherwise I might have recommended against it - I suppose I am left doing as much as possible over the new few days to repair it. Hopefully burning out a bunch of new stuff will give it the kick it needs. Thanks for your insight. – Corey Oct 10 '14 at 4:49
  • While you are at it, mimic what was successful about the pages that changed. Even though the content may change, you can still take advantage of links, title tags, h1 tags, and so on to try and regain the same momentum or start a new momentum. I have always seen a shift in the SERPs when changes are made, but a bounce back is sweet when it is planned just right. Perhaps that is what you can hold onto and sell to the customer. Also, during their busy time, they can possibly take advantage of some kind of content promotion especially if they use Twitter or use FB. Get excited over the potential. – closetnoc Oct 10 '14 at 5:16
  • There really wasn't much too the old site - small amounts of content on only a few pages. When I redirected the pages I made sure all of the older pages still existed on the new site and created any ones that were not moved over. Unfortunately in this case if I am unable to get them at least showing up in the ranks within 7ish days I will likely lose the client. Lessons learned I guess - Before switching, always make it clear how important it is the website stays static for 30 days! Again, thanks for your help! – Corey Oct 10 '14 at 5:24
  • I feel your pain. I always plan for changes in performance for about three months and hopefully, I am pleasantly surprised. I have been a consultant for 30 years and we all lose clients from time to time. Sometimes we goof up. Sometimes it is just the way it goes. It is always personally painful especially when your heart is in the right place and you try so hard. But in the end, you will always cherish the ones that really appreciate you and what you bring to the table. Some may go, but others will find you. That is always the way and will always be the way. God Bless and God speed. – closetnoc Oct 10 '14 at 5:34
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What else changed during the redesign, was it simply graphical?

What needs to be remembered here is that if 301 redirects are set, then any off site factors should be passed over to the new domain, any ranking factors from links for example.

However if there are other changes on the new site such as removing large chunks of text (or even simply changing tex), changing headers, changing page titles, site architecture (e.g names of URLs, internal linking), changes to image file names, alt tags, etc; all these (and many other) 'on site' factors could result in the sites' ranking fluctuating.

So bare in mind, its its a simple domain switch, then ranking flucations should be minimised, however if its a new site, there are many factors that could result in the loss of rankings.

Also Did you notify Google about the change of address in Webmaster Tools. If not do that ASAP, as that can help.

But in answer to your question, I'd leave what's already been done, but if the site has changed maybe go through and check the old site and try to replicate (or better) the on-site optimisation that was already in place on every page throughout the site.

It also might just simply be that Google needs to chew through the new site, redirects and the rankings will settle after a small while.

  • I gave the CMS providers the webmasters tools link today (I can't even modify the headers of the website!!). I am going to re-write the duplicate content pages over the next few days and hopefully drive this site back up quickly. I also set up PPC to drive more traffic quickly. I told the client it is likely Google fluctuating because of the change but since it is a fairly decent paying client I am in a tight spot and need to do everything possible to get this back ASAP. Thanks for your help, I will definitely try it out! – Corey Oct 10 '14 at 5:15
  • Sometimes just switching a site to a CMS can change things and performance can suffer for a period. Some CMS do not do SEO well and others like Wordpress have great potential. Make sure to document and guide the CMS development toward good search performance since this is so important to your client. You may have to explain the SEO procceses in more detail this time around than ever before. Good luck. Pay attention to the details. – closetnoc Oct 10 '14 at 5:28

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