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How Google Responds to a Site Move



How Google Responds to a Site Move

Google’s John Mueller answered a question about how Google processes a site move, in particular if the site move might trigger a so-called “sandbox effect.” Mueller responded by providing a highly detailed response about how Google deals with site moves.

What is a Sandbox Effect?

There is an old idea from the early 2000s that Google will hold back a site from ranking and put it into a “sandbox” until it can know the site can be trusted.

Although Google has denied there is a sandbox the idea of a sandbox continues today, fifteen years later.

The person asking the question was concerned about a “sandbox effect” happening to their site as a consequence of a site move.

Redirect Entire Site or In Phases?

The person asking the question wanted to know what the best way to move a site was, in sections little by little or all at once.

This is the question:

“What is the best course of action to take when you have to 301 redirect all of the URLs to a new set of URLs?

The number of pages will be over one million.

And you want to minimize the sandbox effect, if there is a sandbox effect, how long could it be?


Would we lose ranking that we might not recover?

We plan on doing a one-to-one redirect and had requested batch redirects but that’s not a possibility so pages, images, URLs, etc would have to flip at the same time.”

No Sandbox Effect in a Site Move

John Mueller began his answer by confirming that there is no “sandbox” involved during a site move.

John Mueller answered:

“To me this sounds like a traditional site move situation. You move from one domain to another and you redirect all of the URLs from your old site to a new one and we have to deal with that.

And there is at least, from my point of view, there’s nothing like a sandbox effect.

There is definitely nothing defined as a sandbox effect on our side when it comes to a site move.”

Do a Site Move All At Once

John Mueller next addressed the question of whether they should move the site in phases or just do it all at once.

Mueller responded:


“So if you have to do a site move, then do a site move and redirect all of your pages.

It’s often the easiest approach is just to redirect all pages at once. Our systems are also tuned to that a little bit
to try to recognize that.”

Google Processes Site Moves Quickly

This next part of his answer is where it gets very interesting because he describes how Google’s systems take note of a site move and actually speed up the site processing rather than slow it down. That makes sense.

Mueller explained how Google processes site moves:

“So when we see that a website starts redirecting all pages to a different website, then we’ll try to reprocess that a little bit faster so that we can process that site move as quickly as possible.

And it’s definitely not the case that we would say, oh they’re doing a site move, therefore we will slow things down.

But rather we try to process things actually a little bit faster when we recognize there is a site move.”

How Google Responds to Site Moves

Mueller’s explanation of how Google responds to site moves makes sense. It’s the rational response to design a system to recognize when a site move is underway and to tune the system to pick up the pace of site processing so that Google can continue to refer sites to pages that are useful to users.

It would be counterproductive to do otherwise.


Sandbox Effect from Redirecting Millions of URLs?

Watch Mueller discuss how Google responds to site moves at the 44:31 Minute Mark



5 Tips to Boost Your Holiday Search Strategy



Student writing on computer

With the global economic downturn, inflation, ongoing supply chain challenges, and uncertainty due to the Ukraine war, this year’s holiday shopping season promises to be very challenging. Will people be in the mood to spend despite the gloom? Or will they rein in their enthusiasm and save for the year ahead?

With these issues in mind, here are five considerations to support your search engine optimization strategy this holiday shopping season:

1. Start early.

Rising prices are likely to mean shoppers will start researching their holiday spending earlier than ever to nab the best bargains. Therefore, retailers must roll out their holiday product and category pages — and launch any promotions — sooner to ensure their pages get crawled and indexed by search engines in good time.

Some e-commerce stores manage to get their pages ranking early by updating and reusing the same section of the website for holiday content and promotions, rotating between content for Christmas, Mother’s Day, Valentine gifts, Fourth of July sales, etc. This approach can help you retain the momentum, links and authority you build up with Google and get your holiday pages visible and ranking quickly.

2. Make research an even bigger priority.

With all the uncertainty this year, it’s vital to use SEO research to identify the trending seasonal keywords and search phrases in your retail vertical — and then optimize content accordingly.

With tools such as Google Trends you can extract helpful insights based on the types of searches people are making. For example, with many fashion retailers now charging for product returns, will prioritizing keywords such as “free returns” get more search traction? And with money being tighter, will consumers stick with brands they trust rather than anything new — meaning brand searches might be higher?

3. Make greater use of Google Shopping.

To get the most out of their holiday spending, consumers are more likely to turn to online marketplaces such as Google Shopping as they make it easier to compare products, features and prices, as well as to identify the best deals both online and in nearby stores.

Therefore, take a combined approach which includes listing in Google Shopping and at the same time optimizing product detail pages on your e-commerce site to ensure they’re unique and provide more value than competitors’ pages. Be precise with product names on Google Shopping (e.g., do the names contain the words people are searching for?); ensure you provide all the must-have information Google requires; and set a price that’s not too far from the competition. 


4. Give other search sources the attention they deserve.

Earlier this year Google itself acknowledged that consumers — especially younger consumers — are starting to use TikTok, Instagram and other social media sites for search. In fact, research suggests 11 percent of product searches now start on TikTok and 15 percent on Instagram. Younger consumers in particular are more engaged by visual content, which may explain why they’re embracing visually focused social sites for search. So, as part of your search strategy, create and share content on popular social media sites that your target customers visit.

Similarly, with people starting their shopping searches on marketplaces such as, optimizing any listings you have on the site should be part of your strategy. And thankfully, the better optimized your product detail pages are for Amazon (with unique, useful content), the better they will rank on Google as well!

5. Hold paid budget for late opportunities.

The greater uncertainty and volatility this holiday season mean you must keep a close eye on shopper behavior and be ready to embrace opportunities that emerge later on. Getting high organic rankings for late promotions is always more challenging, so hold some paid search budget back to help drive traffic to those pages — via Google Ads, for example. Important keywords to include in late season search ad campaigns include “delivery before Christmas” and “same-day-delivery.” For locally targeted search ads, consider “pick up any time before Christmas.”

The prospect of a tough, unpredictable holiday shopping season means search teams must roll out seasonal SEO plans early, closely track shoppers’ behavior, and be ready to adapt as things change.

Marcus Pentzek is chief SEO consultant at Searchmetrics, the global provider of search data, software and consulting solutions.

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