Google: Rankings Drop After Change Of Address Because Old URLs Not Indexed

Jun 30, 2015 • 8:34 am | comments (19) by | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Chalkboard Wide Google

I am always nervous quoting 140 character Google responses to complex ranking issues. But I felt this one was interesting enough to share, and almost detailed enough.

A webmaster switched domains from to six-weeks ago but his rankings have significantly dropped since and has not returned, which for a simple domain to domain transfer, with the same content and folder structure, is not normal.

I mean, it is normal, but not if you do the change of address right, if you do it right, it shouldn't have ranking issues that are significant for six-weeks.

Gary Illyes from Google took a look a said the issue might be that Google doesn't have all the old URLs from the original domain name indexed. He said make sure to submit an XML sitemap file of the old URLs via the Google Search Console.

Gary wrote:

This does make sense. Assuming the original site wasn't fully indexed, Google won't be able to pick up on ALL the URL changes. But thinking about it, if those URLs were not fully indexed, they probably didn't get traffic from Google anyway, so why would traffic and ranking differ that much anyway? I suspect the change of address tool may trigger a new XML Sitemap crawl from the old domain, to pick up on the new URLs, even if they are not fully indexed by Google?

I found this Google response to be interesting, so chew it up and let me know your thoughts.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

Update: Gary posted a revised tweet, but I am told the overall message of this post still does apply:

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