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Traffic dropped by 70% after switching the servers. Is there anything I can do except wait?

Discussion in 'Traffic Analysis' started by qwikad.com, Nov 12, 2015.

  1. #1
    One of my sites outgrew its shared hosting, so I did what anyone would naturally do. But after switching to a dedicated server I've lost about 70% of traffic. The thing is the transition was really fast and smooth. After only about 3-4 hours the nameservers / IPs started pointing to the new cPanel. Leafdns showed no errors for the new nameservers / IPs . Everything seemed to be going great. But the last 4 days have been nothing but great.
    SEMrush
    So... I am sure some of you've been in my shoes. How long did it take for the traffic to get back to where it used to be? Did you do anything specific to help your site to be re-indexed faster?
     
    qwikad.com, Nov 12, 2015 IP
    SEMrush
  2. dcristo

    dcristo Illustrious Member

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    #2
    I'd think it's just a temporary issue. I doubt you would have been "de-indexed" after just 4 days.
     
    dcristo, Nov 12, 2015 IP
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  3. qwikad.com

    qwikad.com Illustrious Member Affiliate Manager

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    #3
    I poorly chose the word "re-indexed". It's still indexed. I checked and rechecked that. I meant to say is there anything I can do to insure the traffic is restored back to where it used to be asap? I read it may take up to a month. Holy moly. A month?
     
    qwikad.com, Nov 12, 2015 IP
  4. deathshadow

    deathshadow Acclaimed Member

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    #4
    If you did it right and those are LEGITIMATE visitors accessing by the domain name, the longest such a dip should have lasted is the typical TTL (Time to live) of the domain name -- usually 48 hours at most.

    IF you are seeing drops beyond that with no other changes to the site apart from where it's hosted and the IP address the domain name resolves to, I would be questioning whatever you are using to track your traffic and NOT the traffic itself. A lot of tracking packages (like GA) return false positives for bots which can often take far longer to notice a DNS changes as they are too busy looking for ways to spam sites than they are in making sure the IP address resolves.

    Just another reason I say don't trust goofy scripttardery like Google Analytics -- pointless statistical BS marketing scam artists use to artificially inflate their ego's and to be frank if you can't get the actual same USEFUL information from log analyzers like Analog or Webalizer, you probably shouldn't be running a website much less worrying about it's traffic.

    Though if we're talking about the site in your signature with its overstuffed keywords meta, gibberish markup, keyword stuffing and little if anything resembling semantics, moving the IP address may have caused Google to re-evaluate how they rank your page so things that they skipped over before are now being penalized. I've seen that happen more than a few places the past six or so years. It's part of why I'm such a stickler and all-around asshole about things like semantic markups, properly formed forms, etc.

    Again see nonsense like this:
    <div id="fav_slider">
    <label class="fav">
    <input type="checkbox" onclick="addremove('<a href=697/posts/20-Income-Opps/43-Network-Marketing/157594-Pocket-2-000-Monthly-Giving-Away-THIS-Report.html>Pocket $2,000 Monthly Giving Away THIS Report</a> - Posted in All Cities, November 15')"
    >
    <span></span>
    </label>
    </div>
    Code (markup):
    or this:

    <div class="citylist_container">
    
    <a href="271-Asheville/" class="citylist_city">Asheville</a> <br>
    <a href="272-Boone/" class="citylist_city">Boone</a> <br>
    <a href="273-Charlotte/" class="citylist_city">Charlotte</a> <br>
    <a href="274-Eastern-NC/" class="citylist_city">Eastern NC</a> <br>
    <a href="275-Fayetteville/" class="citylist_city">Fayetteville</a> <br>
    <a href="276-Greensboro/" class="citylist_city">Greensboro</a> <br>
    <a href="277-Hickory-Lenoir/" class="citylist_city">Hickory / Lenoir</a> <br>
    <a href="278-Jacksonville/" class="citylist_city">Jacksonville</a> <br>
    <a href="279-Outer-Banks/" class="citylist_city">Outer Banks</a> <br>
    <a href="280-Raleigh-Durham/" class="citylist_city">Raleigh / Durham</a> <br>
    <a href="281-Wilmington/" class="citylist_city">Wilmington</a> <br>
    <a href="282-Winston-Salem/" class="citylist_city">Winston / Salem</a> <br>
    </div>
    Code (markup):
    Where if you don't know what's wrong with that, you probably shouldn't be building websites in the first place, and issues like you are encountering are to be expected.
     
    deathshadow, Nov 17, 2015 IP
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  5. qwikad.com

    qwikad.com Illustrious Member Affiliate Manager

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    #5
    Everything seems to be fine now. I should've given it a couple more days before starting the thread, but I was kind of in a panic mode. If anything the traffic has gone up since then (higher than it has ever been!). That VPS hosting I was on had my website down sometimes 3-5 times a day. And lately it became so pathetic that I finally said enough is enough. The $174/mo I'll be paying now for the dedicated server has been a great move despite the initial oops.

    The thing is I switch sites from server to server quite often, but this is the first time I saw this huge drop in traffic. And I do know everything about TTL and all of that. This is how I went. The switch went on the 2d of this month. The old site was up and the new one was waiting for the new IPs to propagate. The propagation happened really fast, I still waited until the 6th to finally cancel the old package. Close to 4 days is enough for TTL to get updated and for everything to point to the new site. The first 24 hours after the cancellation everything was going as usual and then, out of the blue, the traffic went boink! I started this thread on the 12th, by the 14th the traffic started going back up and today it's probably 20-30% higher than what it used to be.

    I found an old article from Matt Cutts on switching servers and in it he's implying that it can be also beneficial to wait until Google bot starts crawling your new site too before cancelling the old one. I am not sure I agree with this. I do not want to be penalized for a duplicate content (if the IPs for whatever reason are still meandering between the sites). That article is dated back to 2005, I believe, so maybe back then it wasn't an issue. And I wasn't sure if adding User-agent: * Disallow: / to the old site's robots.txt file would do the trick.

    Anyway, I am explaining everything in detail in case someone happens to have an issue similar to this. The best thing you can do is wait.
     
    qwikad.com, Nov 18, 2015 IP
  6. deathshadow

    deathshadow Acclaimed Member

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    #6
    If both are at the same DOMAIN NAME there is no chance of being penalized whatsoever, regardless of IP address.

    Setting aside Google it's just good practice to leave the old server up for two to four days after you try the domain switchover so that users will still get the site even if their DNS hasn't refreshed to the new IP address. While many people's DNS is not pointing at the correct server, you don't just blindly take it down -- the most you should do on the old one is disable comments or other methods of user generated content -- and maybe have a little notice explaining why.

    I usually Mr. Scott that figure and plan for a full week of overlap. Figure out how much you need, then double it. Having ANY UA come to the site be it a search engine or a user and presenting them with 404 or even timeout from the old IP not even having any services attached to it is bad, sloppy, and to be avoided. Remember Cutts old "write for the user, not the search engine"? Yeah, kind of like that really. EVERY aspect should be handled so that as many visitors as possible -- if not EVERY visitor -- gets SOMETHING remotely useful.

    Killing the old server before you're sure the domain has propagated? That's a pretty nasty "roll of the dice"

    ... and again don't worry about duplicate content on that, if it's the same domain name there is NO reason for any legitimate search engine to treat it otherwise.

    Side note, what's the new IP addy's history look like? Could the new IP address be on some blacklists from a previous user or scumbags in the same address block? That can happen from time to time.
     
    deathshadow, Nov 19, 2015 IP
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  7. qwikad.com

    qwikad.com Illustrious Member Affiliate Manager

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    #7
    I checked the IPs nothing is wrong or suspicious with them.

    I wonder if I "killed" that server a bit too soon. I guess 3.5 days isn't enough for a full propagation. I'd understand if I did that a day after. I was fully confident that everything got switched (all emails were arriving to the new IP, all activity was happening via the new IP). The reason I am saying this is after the initial improvement I see some decline in traffic yet again. Nothing seems to be like it used to. Sh*t. I just hope and pray that as the time goes by everything returns to normal.
     
    qwikad.com, Nov 19, 2015 IP
  8. deathshadow

    deathshadow Acclaimed Member

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    #8
    Well again, what are you using to determine said "traffic"? Could the tool itself be flawed?

    Far, FAR too many times I've seen people rely on tools (like Google Analytics) that fails miserably on the simplest of changes instead of going to their server logs using a tool like analog or webalizer -- or WORSE relying on uttter and complete guesswork "let's pull a number out our ass" bull like Alexa. (which pathetically makes the TV rating system look sound)

    You can usually tell how full of **** such tools are if you compare their guesses and misinformation to the actual server logs and go "why is it only reporting 50% of my traffic" or "why is it over-reporting my traffic by 80%"
     
    deathshadow, Nov 19, 2015 IP
  9. qwikad.com

    qwikad.com Illustrious Member Affiliate Manager

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    #9
    I am using Google Analytics, mostly. Most importantly I can tell by the overall website's activity. It's not terribly down, but still I can see that it's not the same. You know what even more bizarre? I used to get a ton of spam in my inbox. All spam stopped. I mean all. Is it weird or what?
     
    qwikad.com, Nov 19, 2015 IP
  10. deathshadow

    deathshadow Acclaimed Member

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    #10
    That's not THAT weird, I bet if you were on a crappy shared host they weren't running spamassassin or something similar while the new host probably is. Either that or it hadn't been updated in some time; though if you are on a managed dedicated you are at the whims of when they feel like updating things and their choices for providing things, which is why I prefer unmanaged over managed.

    You also have that a lot -- no, A LOT -- of spambots also only resolve an IP address once in a great while as DNS resolution "takes too long" to constantly check if you're trying to flood mails en-masse to hundreds of domains so it could be weeks or months before they resolve properly. That's a particularly sad state, it takes less time to flood an incorrect IP addy than it does to verify one...

    Hell, Google themselves ages ago used to only update IP resolution monthly on already spidered domains, until they sunk a small fortune into having their own DNS service -- that out of the kindness of their evil user activity tracking hearts allow us to use at 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 for ipV4, and 2001:4860:4860::8888 and 2001:4860:4860::8844 for v6.

    Sadly I pretty much have to use their DNS as the one provided here by Time Warner is useless, and still will intercept 400 and 500 series errors to redirect you to one of their advertising pages; making Google the lesser of two evils. :/

    That drop in activity you are 'feeling' could be that you have less posting bots and scam artists getting in the door; that won't last either.

    Also though, remember traffic is seasonal based on your target audience. Over the decade I managed a site and forums dedicated to a tactical miniatures game traffic always dipped in summer, dipped the week before the holidays and peaked at weeks after. For a good three years in that same period I was assisting with someone's facebook game -- which would see the same dip in activity in summer, but would peak during the week or business hours. Almost like people were wasting time at work on facebook games instead of working, but when they got home from work they liked talking about something on a forums.

    ... and that's why having at least a year of trends to go back to (something else webalizer can provide if you check it regularly) is important -- so you can see a year's "curve" of activity. Being the week before American Thanksgiving you might be seeing a dip that will pick up thanksgiving day through four to five days that follows.

    ... or if the site targets some other region, it could be a region specific holiday or nearing a holiday causing such problems. Again that's why raw traffic logs parsed by analog or webalizer going back a year is far more informative and accurate than other "sources" to get a feel for what's going on.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2015
    deathshadow, Nov 19, 2015 IP
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  11. qwikad.com

    qwikad.com Illustrious Member Affiliate Manager

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    #11
    Yes, I believe I was on a very crappy shared hosting (site was down 3-5 times a day for overusing the memory and CPU. Which I believe the OTHER sites were draining, but since I was allocated only 25% of it I got what was left. Which was not enough.). They didn't care if the site stayed down. Many times I had to restart the service for the site to come back on. It's stupid considering I paid nearly $50 a month for it.

    Will update this thread in a week or so. Thank you for your input. Been very helpful.
     
    qwikad.com, Nov 19, 2015 IP
  12. deathshadow

    deathshadow Acclaimed Member

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    #12
    $50 a month for shared hosting? Christmas on a cracker I can get a top of the line unmanaged VPS for half that; 6 cores, 2.5 gigs RAM, 200 gigs disk space, 1gigabit port unmetered.

    $174 even for a dedicated made my eyeballs bulge a bit, but I'm assuming that's managed.
     
    deathshadow, Nov 19, 2015 IP
  13. qwikad.com

    qwikad.com Illustrious Member Affiliate Manager

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    #13
    It took a total of about 4 weeks for that site to fully regain the traffic. I still see a difference in the traffic pattern though. This is a hand-drawn example of what I mean:

    Untitled.gif
     
    qwikad.com, Dec 26, 2015 IP
  14. deathshadow

    deathshadow Acclaimed Member

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    #14
    What's the time-scale on your hand done charts -- is that daily? Hourly?
     
    deathshadow, Dec 26, 2015 IP
  15. qwikad.com

    qwikad.com Illustrious Member Affiliate Manager

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    #15
    Sorry I forgot to mention that. It's daily. Keep in mind this is just an example. The differences are there but may not be as drastic. I just tried to make a point. Especially the second chart. Some days the dips aren't that deep. I took the cues from the Google webmaster chart.
     
    qwikad.com, Dec 26, 2015 IP
  16. jaguar34

    jaguar34 Well-Known Member

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    #16
    This might be because the hosting company had been running other accounts on same servers and maybe some migrated to other ones as they expected and had gone through increase in traffic.
     
    jaguar34, Feb 21, 2016 IP