Once again, our own Brian Harnish was live with John Mueller on Friday’s hangout!! He asked two questions. The second was about an international SEO implementation.
This is more of a hypothetical, he said. He asked – say you have a site that is generally well-established. They have good links going to it, all that good stuff. Generally, it’s a good site from an SEO perspective.
However, at one point, the website owner decided to change from an international setup to combining them all into one, say MediaNewsUnitedStates.com as opposed to MediaNews.com/en-us/, for example.
Aside from the obvious such as links being combined, perhaps not being redirected properly, things like that—what would cause Google to decide to drop traffic by approximately 90% after the implementation?
John explained that on the surface, it’s hard to say. He said that he would first begin, in a case like this, by figuring out whether things have settled down or not and if the site is still in the flux period. If the site is in the flux period, then it is very hard to determine exactly what’s causing what and how it should normally appear.
Then, he would try to examine both individual pages and individual queries in Search Console. Try and understand what the top 50 queries are/were, and find the top 50 queries now. Then run a comparison and figure out exactly where they all dropped.
Next, he would determine whether everything has slightly dropped overall to figure out – is this based on individual parts of the site? Or, is the drop an extensive change? The same thing would need to be done on a page level as well.
He said he often finds that when he looks at the page level, certain pages that used to get a lot of traffic all of a sudden are not working anymore.
They may have errored out with 404 errors, or they were redirected incorrectly, or similar errors like this that happened during the new implementation.
It’s possible that the top traffic pages are now gone, which is likely why overall traffic would be visibly affected by this too.
Ask an SEO Episode 23: For International Sites Gone Awry, Dig Further On Individual Pages and Individual Queries
You can also watch the full-length version of the John Mueller Google Search Central Office Hours Hangout.
This happens at approximately 51:56 in the video below: