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So, we have a functionality on example.com/folder that we decided to make as separate site and we're in need of moving it to a new domain (brand it)...

This is what I'm going to make SEO wise (unordered list):

  • make a 301 redirect map to redirect on a page level
  • make sitemaps both for old site's folder and new domain (to make indexing faster)
  • migrate all content to new domain
  • register new domain in GSC (to submit sitemap...)

What other steps do I need to take to keep SE traffic and ranking positions that we currently have and have our new domain indexed as fast as possible?

We can't use change of address in GSC because we don't completely change domains. We are only moving a subdirectory from one domain to a new domain, we aren't completely moving everything from one domain to another.

  • Although discussing a page/URL, the same steps in my answer here would apply for files/URLS in a folder too. – dan Feb 15 '16 at 9:30
  • @CamSpy OK, the edits made that clearer. I'd only add to make sure the robots.txt for the new site isn't disallowing anything the old site wasn't. – dan Feb 15 '16 at 10:07
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You have all the steps correct, but it won't prevent a temporary (up to 8 month) drop in SEO traffic.

Google does not support migrating an entire folder to its own new domain. When you do so, your new domain name will enter the "sandbox" for a new domain and Google won't trust it as much as the content in the folder on your main domain for some months.

For entire sites that are changing domain names, Google has a change of address tool in Google Search Console that will bypass the sandbox period. Google does not allow this tool to be used for a single folder, only for an entire domain.

  • If I only leave the index page of the folder I'm moving to a new domain and link/redirect to all other pages from it, would that make sense in terms of keeping branded SE traffic (that mainly goes to that one index page)? – CamSpy Apr 11 '16 at 9:03
  • Yes, that would probably work. – Stephen Ostermiller Apr 11 '16 at 9:38

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