While starting any website, the most important decision you have to make is select the appropriate domain name. Domain name plays an important role in social media marketing and search engine optimization. The correct domain name can drive organic traffic to your website and can maintain your search engine rank as well. TheGuardian is the well-known news website in UK. The old name of the website was gurdian.co.uk. The company wants to target more international audience.
The Guardian is the well-known news website in UK. The old name of the website was gurdian.co.uk. The goal was simple as “to serve all desktop and mobile traffic on www.theguardian.com and no longer serve any content on www.guardian.co.uk, m.guardian.co.uk or www.guardiannews.com.” The company aimed to do this change with little impact on web traffic and unify the desktop and mobile sites under one domain. The company wants to target more international audience so decided to change it’s domain name from guardian.co.uk to theguardian.com. But in a very few time company faced some serious issues regarding drop in number of daily visitors.
“Guardian News & Media’s website network reported a 5.83% month-on-month dip in daily browsers to 4,519,849, as a transition to a new global domain, theguardian.com, affected traffic. Monthly browser numbers fell 1.56% to 83,519,898.”
Some major changes company observed in their website analytical data was as follow-
- External backlinks dropped from 91,916,648 to 29,020,869.
- The number of referring domains dropped from 627322 to 113276.
- The number of referring Ip’s dropped from 250820 to 49267.
- Referring subnets dropped from 86252 to 28422.
- Educational ref. backlinks dropped from 284065 to 48523
- Governmental ref. backlinks dropped from 32094 to 2137
- Educational ref. domain numbers dropped from 3331 to 566
- Government ref. domain numbers dropped from 922 to 128
- The number of Indexed URLs dropped from 3062391 to 1269753
Certainly figures were not good for the company. The company was experiencing dropped in almost every sectors which were really troubling in achieving a goal.
In a broad there was only one-word change. But due to which company had to do changes in the number of things. The company had to be made changes in ad server, analytics tool, third-party integrations, syndications, desktop, mobile sites, content API and its identity, discussion platforms. Along with this they had to consider robots and other consumers of their site, change in URL of their Newspaper, etc. Despite the lengthy list coordinated team wants to start all the operations in a day.
The process was not simple and easy. First, the team concentrated on all the external and internal URLs. All the URL’s on the site were still pointing towards the old name www.guardian.co.uk. To divert these links, they wrote filter whose main role was to detect HTTP host header. If the host was www.theguardian.com, they rewrite all the URLs on the site to be www.theguardian.com. If the Host was www.guardian.co.uk they rewrite all the URLs on the site to be www.guardian.co.uk. In parallel, to tis process all the other teams such as the Mobile team, the Identity team, the Discussion team, the Content API team and the ads team all made sure that their products could support both domains.
Next, after the links improvement the team concentrated on SEO, robots, and referrals. As the site receives a lot of traffic from various referrals sites. So, they focused to divert their old traffic to the new domain. For this, they communicated with all the search engines and social media. They read all the official blog posts and implemented all the recommendations suggested by the search engine company like Google. Apart from this they audited their sitemaps and HTML tags. They improved page speed by using Fastly’s CDN. To report dead links or chained redirects or for fixing they wrote page crawlers. In short, The Guardian team tried to remove all the obstacles which came in the path of the new domain.
To check the analytics report after launch team took some extra efforts. Any department could clearly see the real-time graph of traffic and website performance. They implemented multiple tools which aware all the team about the exact happening on the site so that they could overlay this data with what happened yesterday, or this time last week, minute by minute.
Apart from great efforts the company experienced dropped in web traffic in various sectors as indicated in the figures. But the company experts believed that this fall was for a short time and they assured that very soon they will get the good result. Despite the initial short-lived dip in web traffic, the project was an overall success and has not affected with the Guardian’s continual growth.
The given case study is the little bit tricky but interesting to understand. The change is very small. But the effect of that change is long lasting. The Guardian wants to focus or wants to attract customers outside the UK. So they decided to change the domain name. The continuous effort of all the team from various departments results in success in driving the traffic for the new domain. Many times businesses have to take some bitter decisions for the further growth.
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