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Google’s Mueller on Migrating to a Previously Parked Domain

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Google’s Mueller on Migrating to a Previously Parked Domain

Google’s John Mueller answered a question about whether there’s a sandbox effect that holds back a site after changing domain names to a domain name that was previously parked. Mueller responded with details specific to previously parked domains and how Google treats them when they are activated on an existing website.

Background Information

The person asking the question said that she was working on a site that has changed domain name. The site architecture and URLs remained the same. The only thing that changed was the domain name.

The new domain had previously been parked and had been actively used as a site at some earlier point in time. The person asking the question related that currently the site is being indexed 96% of the time by Smartphone Googlebot.

Her question was if there was some kind of sandbox effect caused by the domain name change that was holding the site back from being switched over to mobile first indexing.

It should also be noted that later in the video she mentioned that the rankings had dropped and were slowly recovering in the week since the domain switchover.

Don’t Worry About Mobile First Indexing

John Mueller first mentioned to not worry about the delay in mobile first indexing.

Mueller answered:

“I wouldn’t worry about the mobile first part for something like that because we kind of have the timeline set for switching everything over to mobile first anyway.

So that will happen in (I don’t know what is it, in March or April?)… I don’t know what timeline we had there. So that’ll happen anyway.”

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Previously Parked Domains Can Cause a Temporary Effect

Mueller next addressed the issue of switching a site to a domain that was previously parked. He noted that there can be a temporary effect.

John Mueller explained:

But with regards to moving to a previously existing domain where there was parked content, you can definitely see some temporary effect there.

Not so much in terms of a sandbox effect or something like that but more in terms of if we’ve always seen a noindex page on this site for the longest time, then probably we’re going to assume that it’s still noindex for awhile.

And you might see kind of this… moment where for… I’ve seen it happen for maybe a week or two, maybe up to three weeks, where it’s just our systems assume that this is still a parked site and essentially treat the new content that is there as being parked as well.

And then it either doesn’t get indexed at all or it ranks kind of really badly in the beginning and then at some point, our systems go,  oh, it’s no longer parked and essentially it just pops back in.”

The person who asked the question nodded her head and noted that she is beginning to see some recovery with rankings that had dropped in the week since the domain had been changed.

She also noted that there have been domain mismatch errors reported for AMP. She said that the new AMP content has been crawled but that the old AMP pages are still being reported as existing because the redirect hasn’t been processed.

Mueller responded:

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“That’s something where you might see a temporary effect until all of that settles down a little bit where maybe we have the AMP URL somewhere linked and we go off and crawl it with a desktop crawler initially and then we realize, oh, we have to use mobile because it’s AMP. Then we would pick that up.

But that’s something that I would expect should settle down fairly quickly… like in the order of… I don’t know.. one, two, three weeks, something around that range.”

Mueller further noted that AMP pages and images, anything that was previously on the old domain should be redirected.

Domain Name Changes and Ranking Drops

In my experience, Google is very good at handling changes in domains as well as changing the URL folders of where sections are located.

Dramatic changes in rankings are not unusual. Mueller’s observation that it can take from one to three weeks matches my own experiences changing domain names.

Citation

Watch the Google SEO Office-hours Video

The video begins at about the 15:30 minute mark.

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NEWS

Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

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But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

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One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

[embedded content]

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