What’s this about SEO Website Migrations?

This is an extract from TWIS SEO Update 23 June 2017.

Find out why Google Takes 3 Months to Pick Up Large Site Changes in this post. If you are planning a large site move and would like to discuss ways these timings could impact your web business, please feel free to contact me.

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Google Takes 3 Months To Pick Up on Large Website Migration Changes


  • Gary Illyes discussed at SMX, that if moving domains or having significant URL changes, it can take Google up to 3 months to crawl, and discover all new URLs, and then digest them for the ranking algorithms.
  • It’s not surprising, and matches my experience. Larger sites (think 1 million URLs plus) can take up to six months to be fully picked up, and even that Google occasionally doesn’t spot the new data.
  • This contradicts Google’s “two weeks” advice – which is really only appropriate for smaller sites.

Google Redirects Take Three Months

Website Migration Actions to take:

  1. If you are a larger site, adjust your expectations for how long it will take Google to react and re-index new 301 redirects.
  2. You should expect some movement within the first few days / couple of weeks, but full pick up may take 3 -6 months.
  3. Always 301 redirect everything when migrating a site, even if condensing or removing content.
  4. If moving hosts, as well as changing domains, or URLs, keep the old host alive and forwarding requests until internet DNS caches have fully cleared and re-set.
  5. Where possible, separate URL changes, IA changes and design changes as separate project phases.
  6. Contact me if you would like to discuss site migrations and how to do them well.


I always love it when Google finally realises that some of its information is not always accurate. For the majority of sites on the web, the “wait two weeks” migration timing is correct – Google will pick up the redirects, re-index and take into account new designs within that time span (assuming they are actively crawling the website and old URLs 301 redirect).

In the case of larger websites, it has always taken longer for Google to crawl and digest the new information. That is including the new URLs in the index, and interpreting changes in the site’s link graph and content graph to feed back into the ranking algorithms.

Don’t forget – migrations aren’t just about 301 redirects in most instances, even though design change, IA change and URL change should be carried out as separate stages of a project.

More info:

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Thanks for reading. If you would like to discuss what these changes mean for your web property or would like to know how to implement them, please feel free to contact me.

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