Yes, changing domain names can be an SEO nightmare

Nightmare

I’ve heard countless horror stories about people who have changed domain names and ended up with major SEO problems. If your business depends on traffic from search, this could be devastating, and that’s just what happened to the startup LogoJoy that changed it’s name to Looka.

As detailed by BetaKit, six months ago, logo and brand identity platform Looka changed its name from LogoJoy as it embarked on an expansion beyond its AI-driven logo service. Dawson Whitfield, Looka’s co-founder and CEO, told BetaKit that his company anticipated a 20 to 30% drop in organic traffic as a result of the domain switch from logojoy.com to looka.com, with a three to six month recovery period.

Instead, Whitfield revealed that the company saw its organic traffic drop by a whopping 80%, a huge problem give that organic traffic had accounted for half of the company’s revenue.

(Source – econsultancy)

Its been a sad story to watch unfold as the company ended up laying off 80% of its staff. Twitter has been flooded with people from Looka looking for their next gig and the community has come to their aid with people recommending their friends that are now out of a job.

I think this also highlights just how important it can be to pick the right name the first time around. At the same time, LogoJoy (now Looka) did ignore some of Google’s best-practices when it comes to changing domains such as combining a domain name change with a complete site redesign. Here’s a complete list of things that LogoJoy might have done to upset the Google Gods:

Looka violated Google’s advice about site architecture

It removed or changed the URLs of pages associated with content marketing campaigns that were responsible for much of its organic traffic

The change of the domain from logojoy.com, which contains the keyword “logo”, resulted in the company’s ranking for “logo”-related searches dropping

The new content on the Looka site related to its expansion of services somehow caused a drop in its Google rankings

In highly-competitive markets, the Google hit can be much higher and the time-to-recover much longer than widely believed

(Source – econsultancy)

While nobody actually knows what caused such a precipitous drop in SEO juice, I think more people will make sure to heed Google’s warnings when it comes to changing domains. At the same time, I think many businesses, small and large will think twice about relying so much on Google for traffic. Yes – search engines can provide a nice (free) stream of traffic, but if your whole business is built on this traffic you have a single point of failure, and with that comes a lot of risk.

For any of my readers of the SEO persuasion, what’s your best guess as to what Looka did wrong?

{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Snoopy November 11, 2019, 6:44 pm

    “It removed or changed the URLs of pages associated with content marketing campaigns that were responsible for much of its organic traffic”

    /////

    The sounds like the crux of it. Appears like incompetent management is the problem.

    “Yes – search engines can provide a nice (free) stream of traffic, but if your whole business is built on this traffic you have a single point of failure, and with that comes a lot of risk.”

    Agree Morgan. A business that is reliant on Google for traffic is like a business with only 1 supplier. Needs a focus on repeat customers, word of mouth etc.

    Reply
  • Headquarters November 11, 2019, 8:36 pm

    Fortunately their are case studies online that help show how a few companies transitioned online to a generic domain name. Initially they lose traffic only to gain in the long run.
    In the case of the company referenced above imo of it was “look” and not looka they would have had a greater chance of success. Ctr from users to “look”probably would have been much higher than an unknown name like “looka” and at the end of the day if users arent clicking the listings google will see it as not that relevant to users. Just sayin imo

    Reply
  • Igor Mironyuk November 12, 2019, 7:30 am

    Redirects from old domain to new domain of website is. Why not use this option?

    Reply
  • George In Miami November 12, 2019, 2:41 pm

    Trusting Traffic from Google is like sleeping with a boa…

    Reply
    • HeadQuarters November 13, 2019, 1:35 pm

      Boar? Board? Can’t be boat since youd be sleeping on or in it but not with it.
      Anyways its never good to rely too much on one supplier be it of goods or traffic. Diversification may be difficult considering googles traffic is greater and in most cases better.

      Reply
      • George In Miami November 14, 2019, 11:50 am

        Boar? Board?
        No, Boa as boa constrictor.

        Reply

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