Rank Theory #7
It’s another edition of I’ve got 99 problems already WHY DID GOOGLE DEINDEX MY ENTIRE SITE, the newsletter.
Y’all still reading this thing?
Hmm. That’s unexpected. Okay… guess I’ll still dance at the end of my strings and produce this newsletter. How did I get here? Who am I and where am I going. WHAT DO YOU PEOPLE WANT FROM ME
Keep it light, Markey, people just want to read some SEO stuff and go about their day.
Okay, small talk. Banter.
Hey, how’s the weather?
Floods in the northeast you say? Tornadoes in New Jersey? The gulf coast devastated by unprecedented storms strengthening to catastrophic levels in the blink of an eye. On fire out west or blanketed by the smoke that lays heavy on the land, choking everything in its—
—God damn, the weather. I’m trying to keep it light.
Well, up here in Vermont, fall is in the air! Temps in the 60s, brisk October-feeling breeze blowing the early-turning leaves off the trees. My favorite time of year.
A time of winding down, of reflecting on the previous 8 months and making peace with a year that’s entering its final act.
Also? PUMPKIN SPICE, BITCH.
Haha. Pumpkin Spice Ranch Dressing!
Talk about a visceral reaction.
I’m pretty sure that picture’s fake, but here’s an actual recipe from Hidden Valley called “Pumpkin Spice Empanadas” if you hate yourself or want to suffer to help clear your mind…
Wow. Okay, no more banter.
This Week’s Newsletter
Random Site Deindexation For No Reason
My friend bought a site that has thousands of pages that is just HTML and not running on a CMS. The site has been getting about 300,000 page views per month recently and he'd like to add display ads, affiliate links, and be able to customize everything on WordPress instead of HTML.
The web dev question: What is the best way to convert a site from HTML to Wordpress? I did some googling and didn't find any tools that do this automatically. I ran into some services that will do it but it cost thousands of dollars. Do you know of anything?
The SEO question: let's say that the above problem is solved in the site is now on Wordpress. What are the implications of doing this on the site's rankings?
Because I’m a shit developer, I asked Kris Roadruck, a WP dev I’ve worked with on several different projects to weigh in.
Without knowing the specifics of your site there are basically 3 ways to tackle this:
Option one - Create a new WordPress theme based off the look of your existing site, and then work on migrating all of the content into WordPress on a page by page basis manually.
Option two - Depending on how complex the site is you may be able to use a premade plugin like HTML Import 2, or write a script to parse the files and automate parts of the content importation into MySQL (the database WordPress uses to store it's content).
Alternatively - You could always hire a company to do this for you (they may use the first or second option or some combination thereof). The price will probably scale with the size and complexity of the job.
The unfortunate TL;DR for a large site is it is likely going to involve either a lot of someone's time, or a lot of money for someone's expertise - maybe both.
Kris has been involved in tech for 20 years and marketing for just over a decade. He runs a small marketing agency that provides technical SEO and fractional WordPress development services for affiliate marketers and B2B SaaS companies in the US and Canada. You can catch him on twitter @krisroadruck
SEO response (me):
I have limited experience changing a site from something with .htm or something at the end to… not that.
The one time I’ve done it, the site didn’t do so hot, but could be because it was not updated and not really active for a while. Ahrefs still hasn’t recognized the URL structure update, but I think Google has.
I know this isn’t very helpful, but my best advice here is:
Make sure each and every page is 301’d to from the old URL structure to the new one, and make sure to submit the updated sitemap to Google.
If you redirect an expired domain, do you do that also in the search console? Would you redirect only the articles even when the root domain has nice links?
I have used SC *once* when redirecting a domain. It was a site doing 100k visits/mo and I thought it was worth doing it “the right way” and not the Markey Special: half-assed and just enough to get it done.
The result was a disaster. I’m not sure exactly why—I had a friend or two really smart with technical SEO look at it, and no one could figure anything out. I ended up rolling back the 301 and everything worked out, luckily.
I usually just use a redirect plugin and make sure each page gets redirected to another page. It has served me BETTER THAN FINE for a couple years now.
You can try the SC method if you want, but in my personal extensive experience, that’s overkill (and in my case, was a terrible experience).
As for the root domain: I’ve mentioned this before, but I don’t like to redirect root domain >> root domain. It gets confusing with anchor text and such. Much better to 301 it to a page like /blog or /about, or a blog post that explains the rebrand. I try and redirect the pages 1:1, so url1.com/post-1 >> url2.com/post-1, etc., for every URL.
Google’s Totally Cool Random Site DeIndexer
So I have a friend that is very good at SEO email me his site URL.
“Can you look at this and let me know if there’s any reason this site would have been deindexed?”
I looked and… the site was FINE. The links built were not inherently toxic. The content was solid. The site’s performance in the SERPs was very established and steady:
There as literally NO REASON it should have been completely deindexed (instead of, say, banished to page 10 or something. Stupid algorithmic penalties happen but this wholesale slaughter?) damn…
No manual penalties
No search console messages
Just the random, brutal destruction of a site that has existed for several years and done quite well to answer reader queries and recommend products.
Calls to mind this passage from Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe:
Naked and alone we came into exile. In her dark womb we did not know our mother's face; from the prison of her flesh have we come into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison of this earth.
Which of us has known his brother? Which of us has looked into his father's heart? Which of us has not remained forever prison-pent? Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?
O waste of lost, in the hot mazes, lost, among bright stars on this weary, unbright cinder, lost! Remembering speechlessly we seek the great forgotten language, the lost lane-end into heaven, a stone, a leaf, an unfound door. Where? When?
O lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back again.”
Rankings, come back again!
I’ll let you know how it shakes out. The site owner has bought an alternate domain and redirect the whole thing. Upon doing this the site was IMMEDIATELY indexed, but has yet to rank for much of anything.
I didn’t have a lot to say this week, but I still want to deliver the usual amount of bullshit you’re used to, so please enjoy these random buttons:
Hope you found at least one of those buttons useful!
Adult Swim just released this live action Rick and Morty clip with Doc Fucking Brown aka Christopher Lloyd. I don’t know what it is, but omg
That’s it for this week!
Thanks for subscribing. If you have ANY SEO questions, please shoot me an email and I’ll answer them in a future edition of this newsletter.
Quick post-email favor: if you’d just fwd this email to one SEO Influencer with 50k+ twitter followers and tell them to share with their whole audience, that’d be great.
Until next week,