Google Explains A Weird Domain Migration Outcome

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Why Do Some Domain Name Migrations Fail?

Google’s John Mueller offered an insight into why the domain name migrations between multiple language versions of the same website turned out vastly different even though the same process was followed for each of three websites.

Migrating To Different Domain Names

The person asking the question maintained three websites under three different country code top level domains (ccTLDs). The ccTLDs were .fr (France), .be (Belgium), and .de (Germany). The project was a migration from one domain name to another domain name, each within their respective ccTLD, like example-1.fr to example-2.fr.

Each site had the same content but in different languages that corresponded to the countries targeted by each of their respective ccTLD. Thus, because everything about the migration was equal the reasonable expectation was that the outcome of the migration would be the same for each site.

But that wasn’t the case.

Two out of the three site migrations failed and lost traffic. Only one of them experienced a seamless transition.

What Went Wrong?

The person asking for information about what went wrong tweeted:

“Hi @JohnMu,

AlicesGarden (.fr, .be, .de …) migrated to Sweeek (.fr, .be, .de …)

.FR and .BE lost a lot of traffic in Oct. 23

Other TLD performed well.

Redirects, canonical, hreflang, content, offer = OK
Search console migration = OK

What else could be wrong ?”

Original tweet:

John Mueller Tweets His Response

Google’s John Mueller responded that each site is a different site and should be regarded as differently even if they share the same content assets (in different languages) between them.

Mueller tweeted:

“I don’t know your sites, but even if the content’s the same, they’re essentially different sites (especially with ccTLDs), so it would be normal for a migration to affect them differently (and this seems to be quite a way back in the meantime).”

Here is his tweet:

Are Site Migrations Essentially Equal?

John makes an important observation. It may very well be that how a site fits into the Internet may be affected by a site migration, especially by how users may respond to a change in template or a domain name. I’ve done domain name migrations and those have gone well with a temporary slight dip. But that was just one domain name at a time, not multiple domains.

What Might Be Going On?

Someone in that discussion tweeted to ask if they had used AI content.

The person asking the original question tweeted their response: 

“Yes a bit of AI for short description, mainly in category pages, but nothing which could be deceptive from an end-user perspective.”

Could it be that the two of the site migrations failed and a third was successful because they coincidentally overlapped with an update? Given that the extent of AI content was trivial it’s probably unlikely.

The important takeaway is what Mueller said, that they’re all different sites and so the outcome should naturally be different.

Featured Image by Shutterstock/William Barton

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