Domain Merger Case Study – Google is Really Slow & May Not Merge Domain Trust
Considering how fast Google is at doing most things whether it’s indexing new pages or updating rankings for breaking news the whole process of merging Blogstorm into the Branded3 site has been an eye opening demonstration of just how slow a domain migration can be.
We migrated the content on blogstorm.co.uk into the Branded3 website with 301 redirects and a change of address notice in Google Webmaster Tools on 20th November 2012 and here we are almost 2 months later with 1200 pages still indexed according to a site:blogstorm.co.uk query and 687 according to Webmaster Tools.
I could understand if Google had stopped crawling the site but I only had around 4,000 pages and Google has crawled almost 1000 pages per day for 2.5 months now. You can see the spike in crawl activity when the redirect and change of address notice in WMT was submitted.
I’m not the only one reporting on this issue – another post details thousands of pages still indexed after a year.
Did the migration change any rankings?
When we migrated the content we expected that all the content that was moved would rank in the same position as it did before on blogstorm.co.uk and this worked perfectly with no ranking loss at all. We also expected that merging an authority site with thousands of top quality links into a site with a lot less authority would deliver a noticeable improvement in how branded3.com ranked for certain keywords. We have never really built any links to the Branded3 site manually so the rankings are all natural and based on domain authority. We assumed that an increase in overall domain authority by merging in a more trusted domain would also drive the ranking improvement.
Looking at the data so far the results are pretty conclusive. There have not been any noticeable improvements in rankings for branded3.com since we merged blogstorm.co.uk with thousands of quality linking domains into the site.
Either Google hasn’t yet transferred the domain authority, domain authority has no effect on rankings or there is an algorithm to prevent two sites from merging and benefiting from the combined domain authority. The latter seems most probable to me because it would be easy for big brands to buy blogs and merge them into a site just to give an overall boost in domain authority but it’s a shame when the merger happens for non-SEO reasons.
The Searchmetrics charts show a slight change in visibility but mainly for all sorts of random keywords and not for the really relevant ones.