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Moving Part Of Site To Subdomain


Best Answer castlebuilder , 06 December 2012 - 01:09 PM

Thanks for all the responses. I think that I do feel more comfortable telling them that it is an OK thing to do.

 

This is part of a redesign, so there are so many factors involved. This content will be linked to in the same way, though, hopefully even better than it was before. I am trying not to (or telling them not to) touch the actual content of the archived articles at all. I figure Google likes it now, if we don't change it, it should still like it!

 

Internal site search (including the archive) will be updated from an ancient (10 years?) script, which may have nothing to do with SEO but will make info easier to find on site.

 

The move kind of has to all happen at once for technical reasons, though your idea is an interesting one, Alan.

 

Good point on the site maps, querty, I will be sure to update. There is going to be new contents, so I need to redo anyway.

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#1 castlebuilder

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 03:32 PM

I have a client who is considering moving old site content to a subdomain (something like archive.website.com). I would set up 301 redirects for all the content moved off the www site.

 

Our question is, will this hurt the search engine results? My research has so far given me different answers, so I thought I would ask here!

 

The pages are well ranked now, and it is very important to the client that they do not lose traffic from search engines, especially, of course, Google.



#2 Jill

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 08:43 AM

It's impossible to say for sure, but I don't see why t would cause any problem. 



#3 Alan Perkins

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 08:49 AM

Hi castlebuilder.

 

Yes, it could hurt rankings. Link->301->page is not quite as good as Link->page.  However, if the page is on a subdomain the impact is likely to be minimal, assuming all other things remain equal, of course.

 

And that's the point.  All other things won't be equal.  Some things may work in your favour, e.g. the new server may be faster and this can help rankings; or it may be slower, and this can harm them.  Also, since the content is being moved to a subdomain, there's a good chance the links between those moved pages (in and of themselves, and to other client pages, and to the rest of the Web) may change and, again, this can make a difference.  In fact, if things AREN'T changing, you need to ask yourself why you're moving the content in the first place.  So, yes, the 301s may make a small difference, but other factors may make a bigger difference.



#4 qwerty

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 10:24 AM

If it's just a question of whether structuring a site with subdomains hurts, the opinions you'll find out there are pretty divergent.. I've read a lot of articles where it's just considered a basic truth that subdomains are bad, but none of them offer any proof to back up the idea.

 

I spent the last two years working on a network of sites that happen to be structured that way, simply because it worked better for our developers. I never saw any reason to believe it hurt us, but some people in the company picked up the idea that it would be worthwhile to restructure everything. That led to me asking Matt Cutts about it:

 


Edited by qwerty, 06 December 2012 - 10:25 AM.

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#5 Alan Perkins

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 11:02 AM

If it's just a question of whether structuring a site with subdomains hurts

 

Bob, I think it's more a question of whether re-structuring (using 301s) something that's already working hurts.

 

When I originally watched that Matt Cutts video, i had no idea you were "Bob in Somerville"!



#6 qwerty

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 12:20 PM

I agree. You know that you have something to lose in restructuring because the redirected links don't have quite as much strength as the direct ones did. The more you need to redirect, the more you have to lose.

 

So the question for me (which was not quite the same as castlebuilder's situation) was whether there was more to potentially gain from restructuring than what we knew we were going to lose. I think the answer to that question was no.

 

For castlebuilder, if you believe that you have to move this content, then you should understand that the only real issue, in my opinion, is the loss of strength because of the redirects you'll need to put in place, and while there's no hard data on how big that loss is, it's generally considered to be fairly small. I don't think you need to be concerned about whether the location to which you move this content happens to be a subdirectory or a subdomain, as long as your internal linking treats this location as a normal part of the entire domain.



#7 Jill

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 12:52 PM

I'm sticking with my original answer that I'd be surprised if there were any problems in moving the content. 


This assumes that you'll continue to be linking to that content the same way you were before, and that nothing else changes other than the fact that you're basically changing the URLs.

 

(As a side note, it's so cool to see Matt Cutts show up here at the forum in videos) ;)



#8 Alan Perkins

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 12:53 PM

castlebuilder, one approach you could try is to move some of the content, wait, and see if it loses rankings.  If it doesn't, move some more, until it's all moved.  If at any point it looks like things aren't working out, then think again.

 

Also, bear in mind (given that you've posted this in the "Internal Links" category) that none of your own internal links should go through the redirects.  Instead, they should link directly to the new pages on the subdomain.  If you're in control, then there is no need to use a redirect.  Redirects are only needed when you're not in control, such as links from an external site or a search engine.


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#9 qwerty

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 01:02 PM

To add to Alan's point, you do need to set up the redirects for links coming from other sites -- you don't want people or search engine spiders following those links to hit a 404. And in addition to making sure your internal links don't rely on the redirects, you'll need to put the new URLs into your XML sitemap if you have one (or more than one if we're talking about a large site). I'm not aware of any official word from Google on this, but Bing has stated in no uncertain terms that they consider it a bad signal for the sitemap to include URLs that hit redirects.



#10 castlebuilder

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 01:09 PM   Best Answer

Thanks for all the responses. I think that I do feel more comfortable telling them that it is an OK thing to do.

 

This is part of a redesign, so there are so many factors involved. This content will be linked to in the same way, though, hopefully even better than it was before. I am trying not to (or telling them not to) touch the actual content of the archived articles at all. I figure Google likes it now, if we don't change it, it should still like it!

 

Internal site search (including the archive) will be updated from an ancient (10 years?) script, which may have nothing to do with SEO but will make info easier to find on site.

 

The move kind of has to all happen at once for technical reasons, though your idea is an interesting one, Alan.

 

Good point on the site maps, querty, I will be sure to update. There is going to be new contents, so I need to redo anyway.



#11 Jill

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 02:23 PM

If you're doing a redesign overall, then things definitely will change in terms of Google traffic. 


If you haven't already be sure to read some of my articles about SEO and Redesigns so that you avoid any major missteps! 



#12 castlebuilder

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 02:56 PM

Thanks! Unfortunately, I am only consulting on the redesign and handling the archive and some of the server/tech matters, I am not directly doing the redesign. I am giving them all the advice I can, though, from several other redesigns I've done and ongoing research. In addition to the url redirects, I've already alerted them about keeping title tags the same. The structure and main pages that make up the navigation are basically the same. None of the old content is changing, they are just adding more that can only be improvements (for example, an About link is being added where there was not one in the past).






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