- Determine what should be moved
- Examples of partial migration candidates
- When will older content be migrated?
- Why move content to a new TLD?
- Alternatives to partial content migration
- Tips for monitoring the success of your partial migration
- Keep your focus on improving your signal input
Most websites get bigger and develop organically. First, the core of the landing pages in a certain niche is supplemented by some information pages, including contact, information about us, mission statement, job vacancies, etc.
Over time, other complementary landing pages will germinate (which do not cover core business activity, but are somehow needed).
The public relations landing pages deal with inquiries from the media and journalists. The interests of the shareholders are dealt with on the investor information pages.
Much larger chunks of a website are created when you add in an archive, community forum, tech support, one-time event, merchandise channels, and the almost inevitable corporate blog.
Occasionally a staging server hosted by a subdomain duplicates the entire website and multiplies SEO problems.
While this is not an exhaustive list, each of the above scenarios make a website difficult to perform in Google Search. They often dilute content signals and cause loss of ranking visibility over time.
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However, these SEO problems are avoidable and can easily be resolved by partially migrating to a new top-level domain (nTLD).
Determine what should be moved
The reason content signals are relevant and important to SEO is because of the fact that The ranking is all about relationships.
For example, if a website consists of 80% user forums that are not monitored and consequently continuously abused by spammers, the remaining 20% of the website (even if it is of the highest quality) will have a difficult ranking.
This is because the website is mostly made up of low quality or outright spam pages.
Of course, not every forum hosted by subdomains has to become a spam hub. However, many do so over time as priorities and time allocations shift and once promising initiatives are tacitly abandoned.
A similar scenario can be applied to all other potentially out of control and rapidly growing parts of a website that are generating either duplicate, poor quality, lean content or spam pages.
For good placements, however, signal consistency is key. By far the best way to deal with content you no longer need is to delete it and return a custom 404 response.
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Sometimes this is not an option due to policies specific to the prevailing culture within the organization. Even so, the growing impact of this outdated, off-topic, lean content on ranking means that the problem needs to be addressed.
In this case, partial migration becomes the next best option.
Examples of partial migration candidates
The problem wasn't that easy to solve until working TLDs became as widely available as they are now.
TLDs can be used to securely move stale, off-topic, lean, or otherwise undesirable content hosted in a subdomain or directory to a new location.
Here are some practical examples:
staging.example.com -> example.dev
An unprotected staging server hosted on the main website is always a dangerous proposition and should therefore be moved off the site, ideally to a .dev domain.
This domain can (but does not have to) be representative of the brand. However, the content of the staging server must be protected at all times with a secure login.
blog.example.com -> example.blog
A legacy blog that is not for the purpose of enhancing the user experience and is not an integral part of the website may be best moved to a .blog domain.
autors.example.com -> example.expert
In addition to an unwanted blog, there may be fewer lean content author pages that, unless they demonstrate expertise and strengthen the site's authority, can be moved to a new .author domain.
newsroom.example.com -> example.news
pr.example.com -> example.press
Large branded websites often offer media packages as well as PR materials for journalistic purposes. Your media landing pages tend to grow as the archives of press releases swell with older content.
For this reason, it's best to move them to a .press branded domain.
community.example.com -> example.community
status.example.com -> example.report
wiki.example.com -> example.wiki
User generated content is challenging in that it is the most desirable from a marketing perspective and can hugely increase relevance in a given niche.
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At the same time, maintaining communities requires resources and is often abandoned at some point.
Communities "in the wild" without supervision or supervision almost always attract abusive behavior and ultimately undesirable content. Therefore, communities are best moved to a branded .community domain.
The same applies to resource pages edited by the community, which are best moved to a branded .wiki domain. Previous event reports that need to be retained are ideally moved to a .report domain.
support.example.com -> example.support
help.example.com -> example.help
Help and FAQ pages naturally grow over time as online services expand and become more complex.
They often consist of a large and growing volume of individual problems that are briefly outlined along with a brief description of the solution.
These are usually textbook examples for Lean content pages. For this reason, it is best to move help and / or support pages from the main website to a branded .help or .support domain.
In this case, it is even more important to remove content from the main domain, as third-party CMS software is often used, which does not give the website owner control over SEO signals.
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shop.example.com -> example.shop
sale.example.com -> example.sale
For websites that offer goods as a side business, branded .shop (or alternatively .sale) domains can be an attractive alternative to move inventory to another domain and avoid diluting content signals.
events.example.com -> example.events
tickets.example.com -> example.tickets
For one-off and recurring events, TLDs branded .events or .tickets are likely to be attractive alternatives for removing content from the main website.
The highlighted examples are among the most popular for large website owners. However, they are not exhaustive.
Depending on the specific niche, content quality, and volume ratios, there may be other (and equally promising) areas for improvement when outdated content cannot be deleted but moved to other branded TLDs.
For most brands, there are still many functional TLDs available that can be secured inexpensively.
Unavailable TLDs are not a roadblock as there are many alternatives to consider and choose. TLDs like .org, .site, .net, .io or .co are among such generic, popular alternatives.
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When will older content be migrated?
The decision to secure alternative branded TLDs and selectively migrate content should only be made based on thorough evaluation and investigation.
It is only possible to assess what impact additional content can have on the entire website after:
- Review the Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Search Console data.
- Analyze server logs over a representative period of time.
- Crawl the website with a state-of-the-art crawler like Botify, DeepCrawl or Screaming Frog.
In the course of the analysis, only essential parts of the website that no longer serve their originally intended purpose but cannot be deleted should be considered for the migration to an nTLD.
Because of this, some contact information pages are unlikely to be candidates for moving to a .contact or .chat domain (not to mention users may be confused about who to contact).
Every migration, even if it seems unimportant, is not without its risks.
When the process is complete, the more relevant content tends to rank better, even though there is less content overall.
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Why move content to a new TLD?
Deleting content is often an obstacle for a variety of reasons.
Political considerations can play a role, as can a real fear of annoying users.
If significant amounts of landing pages (which have the potential to hold back search engine rankings across the website) cannot be deleted, partial migration is the next best option.
This step alone can go a long way in helping you comply with Google's Webmaster Guidelines.
While there are associated risks – especially if the canonical is incorrectly set – there are benefits, including a positive effects on crawling prioritization.
With significantly fewer landing pages, there is a chance that the entire website could be crawled more frequently.
While hosting and page performance play a crucial role, landing pages that are less relevant and better optimized generally rank better for competitive requests.
However, partial content migrations by no means solve all sorts of problems with the crawl budget, such as: B. indexable filtering or crawler traps that occur with large websites.
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These serious, complicated SEO drawbacks require separate examination and resolution.
Another benefit of the partial migration is the improved prioritization of SEO resources.
Moving user-generated content often relieves the outreach team of repetitive monitoring and surveillance tasks. It can also leave more time for promising outreach operations, including brand awareness initiatives that can increase click-through rates.
Most importantly, the main website can be not associated with inferior content or spam.
At the same time, all the benefits that result from having high quality backlinks can be retained by linking from the new website to the main website, which is legitimate for Google.
Typically, networking – even using highly commercial anchor texts and PageRank redirect links – is approved by leading search engines, provided that it remains clear that there is a legitimate connection between the sites.
Alternatives to partial content migration
Large, non-generic brands that have significant resources following a long-term strategy can adjust the above migration strategy after successfully applying for their own branded TLD.
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You can take part in the application process during certain opening times granted by ICANN. Even so, there is no guarantee that this application will be successful.
The process is relatively costly, especially when compared to buying and maintaining even a large portfolio of functional TLDs.
For these reasons, relatively few organizations have chosen to take this step.
Few have done this so far, and some have had to rethink, reset, and drop their branded TLDs.
For the vast majority of website owners, a branded TLD is not a viable option because the process is too difficult.
For some, their brand name is too general. For others, their very specific brand name is just too long to be legible as a TLD.
For some, it's a luxury option that, when implemented, allows complete control over the branded TLD, including all of its associated domains.
This brings almost unlimited possibilities for giving content signals order and consistency. A branded TLD is an overkill option for all but a select few organizations.
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Tips for monitoring the success of your partial migration
After successfully implementing a partial migration, consider a few other important steps.
First, record and retain the raw web server logs of the new website. If not, lost data cannot be recovered when it is needed for analysis.
At the very least, the new website should be added and reviewed in the Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.
More ambitious website owners want to collect as much free search engine data as possible and may consider adding their websites to the Seznam Webmaster Console and the Yandex Webmaster Console as well.
There are others too, such as Baidu Webmaster Tools and Naver Webmaster Tools. The latter two pose serious challenges for non-native Chinese speakers due to their rigorous screening procedures and language barrier.
Finally, after a migration, it is imperative to ensure continuous monitoring of both the main website and the new websites for some time, and to act quickly in the event of any unintended consequences.
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It is important to check Googlebot and Bingbot first.
Keep your focus on improving your signal input
Organic search rankings are a result of signal input. Search engines and their algorithms continuously collect relevant on- and off-page signals, read them and try to understand their relevance and quality.
They are often successful and thereby generate relevant SERPs. However, the search is complex and currently these search engine algorithms are failing.
In competitive niches, trusting the algorithms to get it right is not a successful strategy. Instead of doing wishful thinking, get your best foot in SEO forward by tweaking these relevant signals whenever possible.
Website owners are in control of their websites' on-page signals. Exercising this control makes all the difference, especially on commercial websites.
The strategy outlined above can bring rewards, including themed, consistent content signals, fewer landing pages for lean content, fewer risks of policy violations, and fewer landing pages that compete for both search engine crawling budget and user attention in the SERPs.
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