Our Real-Life, Google SEO Nightmare at DZone!

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Our Real-Life, Google SEO Nightmare at DZone!

DZone consolidated all our subdomains into the parent domain, dzone.com, and we promptly lost half our Google organic inbound sessions. Help!

· DevOps Zone ·
Free Resource

Image titleHi Everyone! About a week ago we deployed major changes to the popular developer and technology site, DZone.com. For years we had been running a mix of applications to provide various services, and our goal was to bring them all together into one integrated platform, our own DZone TeamHub Platform, which is used by all kinds of great companies like IBM, eBay, Microsoft, Pixar and many more.

Before the change most of our traffic was coming to subdomain hosts like java.dzone.com, refcardz.dzone.com, css.dzone.com and so on. There were about a dozen of these that had significant activity, but the main one was our java.dzone.com subdomain, which alone received something over 1.1 million organic google sessions monthly.

We moved them all to the common root domain, dzone.com, and in an effort to hurt ourselves as much as possible, we also made the change from http: to https: at the same time. Our new homepage is now therefore just https://dzone.com for the consolidated content from all the former subdomains. All page types are mapped, and about 98% of the content is now housed at the root domain.

Almost immediately our traffic took a severe hit. We had set up and tested all the required 301's, but we watched as our organic google inbounds dropped to less than half our normal level overnight, and we seem to be disappearing rapidly from the indexes. We built a state-of-the-art AngularJS site, and it was doing well in the GWT "Fetch and Render" tool, but it seems to have fallen very flat in our real deployment. We quickly implemented a system to provide cached html copies of the AngularJS pages so the bots wouldn't have to digest the javascript, and Googlebot has fetched literally hundreds of thousands of pages, but hardly any of it is showing up yet.

We have completed Google "Change of Address" requests for each of the significant subdomains to point to their new home at the root parent domain, and we're carefully monitoring logs (especially for 404's) to make sure we're not just inadvertently leaving out a big segment of our traffic. As far as we can tell, none of the Google rank from any of the subdomains has transferred to the root domain, and very few of our links are surfacing in SERPs. Our high rankings on many developer-related keywords have all but vanished, and we're hanging on with fingers crossed hoping this nightmare will pass.

Thankfully, a lot of people seem to like the new site, so our pages per visit is up by about 50% and our session time is also up by about 50%. The net result is that improved user engagement has helped limit the damage from our nearly instant drop in the Google indexes, but we had really hoped we'd fare better in this dangerous and tricky undertaking.

Does anyone have any knowledge that can help us improve this situation and restore some of our lost Google rank? We're losing sleep over this and really feel powerless over the choices that Google's team and algorithms make behind an opaque black curtain. There may be things we can still do, but at this point it feels like “hurry up and wait.” The options seem pretty limited. Help!

Rick Ross

angularjs, dzone, google, migration, rank, seo

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