Search engine traffic down after vB to XF migration

JacquiiDesigns

Formerly MsJacquiiC
Migrated a bigboard with 1,200,000+ posts from vB3.x with vBSEO/PhotoPost pro board to Xenforo 1.5 and XFMG maybe 7-8 weeks ago and I'm being told that search engine traffic is waaaay down. We have put in place some 700+ lines of custom code (301 redirects) in the .htaccess file. I've confirmed that the redirects are actually working as to be expected. But still ... Search engine traffic is down. In fact - I've been told, "I look at my traffics status I lost 95% of my search traffic."

3.jpg

How is this even possible?!? During my brief research of bigboard vB to XF migrations - I'd read mostly 99% very positive response from topics regarding membership feedback to SEO improvements. Nothing at all so drastic as a 95% reduction in search engine traffic. So I'm really perplexed.

I'm not an SEO guru by any stretch of the imagination. I don't know what at all to suggest in order to 'fix' something that may or may not be broken. I've performed quite a few vB -> XF migrations and never heard of such results as for search engine traffic.

Short of saying 'it'll take time for search engines to re-index the millions of posts - please be patient' ... Is there anything at all I can do in order to improve the situation? All suggestions & advice welcome.

Thanks!

J.
 

Alfa1

Well-known member
It is probably a matter of redirecting your Photopost and vb albums urls to XFMG. You can check google webmaster tools for crawl errors.
I had a redirection script developed for it. it quickly resolve tens of thousands of crawl errors.
 

JacquiiDesigns

Formerly MsJacquiiC
It is probably a matter of redirecting your Photopost and vb albums urls to XFMG. You can check google webmaster tools for crawl errors.
I had a redirection script developed for it. it quickly resolve tens of thousands of crawl errors.
Are they 301 redirects?



This is key.
Thanks for the replies fellas. I actually did specify that the redirects are 301 redirects:
We have put in place some 700+ lines of custom code (301 redirects) in the .htaccess file.
Part of those .htaccess redirects are specifically targeted at the old PhotoPost Pro install.

Looking in Google analytics for crawl errors - and the overwhelming majority of the 'not found' (404 I imagine...) errors are old vB archive links which simply no longer exist. Others are from old member profile pages where the member no longer exists. There are 113 Access denied errors, which are basically to links where members restrict who can see their profile or what seems like forums for premium members that aren't accessible by guests.

Interestingly enough - I've just identified a forum whose permissions should be set to viewable by guests group .. but permissions are set that guests cannot even view the node. And that's really the only thing that I can think of that would cause such a drastic drop in search engine traffic... Hmmm... It may be time to go through (once again sigh...) usergroup permissions per node? IDK... Any reason at all why or how usergroup node view permissions can be changed from 'allow' to 'inherit' without having made any manual permissions adjustments?! Ugh... So frustrating. And aside from permissions issues - can you guys suggest anything at all so that the search engine traffic resumes to what it was prior to the migration?

Thanks!

J.
 

JacquiiDesigns

Formerly MsJacquiiC
IDK... Seems like content is being indexed quite nicely:
2017-04-03_21-34-40.png

A huge jump after sorting some guest view permissions that seemingly changed themselves from 'allow' to 'inherit' and/or 'revoke' It's very bizarre. But then how do you explain this:
^B268C35C3B530F8AB7028B971875AFF74B926F6110142CADAF^pimgpsh_fullsize_distr.png

I honestly am quite perplexed.
Have others experienced such stats during a vB4 to XF migration? And when can you expect a reversal in the downward trajectory???? I'm like, "HELP PLEASE!!!"
Ugh.

J.
 
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JacquiiDesigns

Formerly MsJacquiiC
http to https? because if it is, you need to create a new https site in webmaster....
It is https:// and I have both http:// and https:// in google analytics search control. So it's not an issue with https:// as far as I can understand anyway... Any other clues? And thanks for your concern and suggestion.

J.
 

Amin Sabet

Well-known member
Have others experienced such stats during a vB4 to XF migration?
I did not. Here are the number of sessions from organic search on one of my sites that migrated from vB4 to XF in Feb 2015. The day of migration is indicated by the red arrow:

2017-04-04_0757.png

The total dropouts were times that I briefly uninstalled Google Analytics and should be disregarded as they represent a lack of data collection rather than a drop in sessions from search.

As you can see, my sessions from search were slowly declining prior to the XF transition and continued in that trajectory after the migration, but there was no sudden loss of search traffic in the migration.

Do you have Google Analytics installed, and if so, does it show the same drop in traffic that you are seeing in Webmaster Tools?
 

Curious

Member
This is so bizarre because I was coming to the forums to start a very similar thread.

I'm embarrassed to post mine though since I rarely check my Google Analytics (and it cost me). I knew my traffic was down but assumed it was more as a result of fewer pageviews with newer software. I noticed this morning in my "All Traffic > Referrals" report in Google Analytics that it shows almost no referral traffic from Google.com since switching to Xenforo about six months ago. My average before switching was about 22-23% of my sessions by referral came from Google. Since then, it's well under 1%.

October 2016: 1.74%
November 2016: 1.22%
December 2016: 0.68%
January 2017: 0.47%
February 2017: 0.23%
March 2017: 0.06%

I don't know what other search reports I should be looking for and don't know if this is the correct one, but it clearly shows a huge drop. I have my VBulletin redirects set up. I do not have a robots.txt file.

I know this is not a Xenforo problem (I certainly assume it isn't) but I'm at a loss trying to figure out what it could be. I assumed since XF is mobile-friendly (and my VB layout was not) that it would only improve. Google Webmaster Tools seems to show indexing.

I never had VBSEO and very few mods if any. My conversion should have been straight forward. My forum has over 11 million posts.
 

Pierce

Well-known member
Did you change your title? Like the board title?

How about meta description?

Best way to check these is waybackmachine
 

Curious

Member
Did you change your title? Like the board title?

How about meta description?

Best way to check these is waybackmachine
In our case, there were some changes made to both, but it should have only impacted the front page of the forums. It should not have impacted the threads since the title of threads were the exact same (thread title, board name). I've restored the exact title and description of the front page but not sure that's our problem.

Webmaster Tools shows search hits, but they only allow you to go back 90 days. Google Analytics shows almost complete loss on referrals from Google.com.
 

Anthony Parsons

Well-known member
It could be coincidence, with Google algorithm updates. Sep / Oct 2016 Google changed its Penguin algorithm to devalue a whole bunch of links vs penalise for them. They rolled out some significant changes. That sounds like an easy swap, especially when you weren't enduring a penalty to begin with, but a whole bunch of people suddenly found their traffic rocketing downwards as Google determined links to no longer be of value.

Were you / had you done any paid or spammy type link building prior to this time?

Google really did a number on a whole bunch of link types, devaluing them in rapid order. Sites dropped 50% in traffic overnight, without recovery.
 
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