Ask Yoast: Site migration and rankings

Site migrations are probably not on most people’s fun list. Alas, sometimes they’re necessary to ensure the continued health of a website. Once you’ve decided you need to do a migration, it’s important to make sure you know what you’re doing and make a plan for how to approach things beforehand. Whether you’re moving from HTTP to HTTPS, switching your TLD, or moving to another domain: think about what you need to change, and make sure you can easily pinpoint the cause if something goes wrong.

In any case, take into account that you may experience lower traffic, the first few weeks after your migration, simply because your new URLs need to be properly indexed again. If everything goes well and you don’t break things, your rankings will improve over time. Let’s discuss a case where this might happen in some more detail in today’s Ask Yoast!

Anthony Spitery emailed us about his situation:

Our website ranks well in Google but it’s a subdomain of another URL that is no longer registered. We want to move to another host and we’re wondering what the SEO impact would be if we turned the subdomain into the primary domain. Do we lose our ranking?

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!

The impact of a site migration

“Well, yes, you’ll lose rankings, because you have to migrate it, so you’ll have to take a bit of a hit. It’s probably a better idea in the long run, though, so I would still do it. But you have to realize that for somewhere between three and six months you will take a loss in traffic. That loss in traffic can vary: I’ve seen less than 10%, but I’ve also seen more than 40%. So, it can be quite a painful experience.

But it’s worth it in the long run, especially if that other domain is not used anymore, because otherwise, that reflects poorly on your business as well. So I would take the hit, and do it. Good luck.”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Do you have an SEO-related question? A pressing SEO dilemma you can’t find the answer to? Send an email to, and your question may be featured in one of our weekly Ask Yoast vlogs.

Note: you may want to check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question could already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about the Yoast SEO plugin not working properly, please contact us through our support page.

Read more: Domain names and their influence on SEO »

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