Have you ever wondered how can a change of the language of your blog posts affect overall traffic on your blog? How do search engines cope with the fact the content they encounter is suddenly in the completely different language? Is Google quick in indexing new content and how early does it find 301 permanent redirects and index the well-known old content on the new URLs? I have tried to find all these things out as a part of my small real-life experiment.
Day 0 – Settting things up
I have uploaded my new English WordPress blog and set everything up on Wednesday evening, January 20, 2010. At the same time my old Slovak blog has been moved to www.ambience.sk/old/. I assured myself everything was up and running and 301 permanent redirects working. I have not provided a sitemap (XML sitemap protocol) to the Google, instead believing in its natural (algorithmic) abilities.
Day 2 – Google notices the change
Nothing interesting happened the first day, but on the second day after using site:.ambience.sk in Google, first new English blog post showed up in the results. Homepage of Ambience.sk was also indexed with the new English title and description. No changes were reflected by Google regarding the old Slovak content, same old URLs were showing.
A week after – Google slowly indexes new URLs
Every new day Google was slowly finding changes and indexing 301 redirects as the new URLs. English blog posts were also slowly showing up in the fresh part of the search engine results at the top.
Day 13 – lots of changes, few URLs still to go
Google continues to pick up the new URLs, but it is doing so very slowly (the Slovak blog had only about 800 posts and pages). I now see most of the former Slovak content showing up at the new URLs with the old/ prefix. However, it looks that Google either forgot about or still plans on indexing few Slovak posts that has moved to the new URLs.
Another interesting fact is that original Slovak blog now (www.ambience.sk/old/) now shows up at first position compared to the new English blog at www.ambience.sk. Although, I have not redirected homepage www.ambience.sk, all the former Slovak blog content has the internal link to www.ambience.sk/old/, which gives more importance to this page than to the domain root. Few days ago I have put another link from every /old/ page pointing to the domain root / new English blog, so let’s see if the order Google uses changes.
Google is rather slow indexing the changes, specially for the pages that did not used to change a lot (e.g. About blog). I could have used XML sitemap to speed up the new URLs indexing rate, but this experiment confirms Google is able to find and use 301 redirects without any further help.
I will keep you updated on the changes. Expect another post on how the language change impacted the traffic. You will also get a peek into some screenshots from Google Analytics.