Ok, so I took my own advice and was patient, very patient, to see all the good things we’d done would have the desired effect on traffic and sales. Now, you might argue that we didn’t wait that long but, to be honest, it was getting difficult to see a way out. When we transferred about 70% of our traffic from UKTW to SeatChoice we saw an immediate improvement in SeatChoice traffic, but not to the extent that we’d damaged UKTW. Over the days and weeks that followed, the improvement to SeatChoice slowly fell away back to worse than previous levels and the UKTW traffic started a long slow recovery.
From this set of circumstances I formed the idea that seatchoice.com was somehow toxic in that whatever I did the overall traffic on that site never seemed to recover, indeed, any new traffic delivered to this site was pretty soon leached away somewhere else. And so, eventually, I came to the conculsion that I was flogging a dead horse (domain) and would never win. Questions asked on the Google Webmaster Forum got answers basically denying that such a thing as toxic domains might exist but I could see no other explanation.
And so I decided, after discussion with interested parties, to ditch the seatchoice.om domain and revert to uktw.co.uk which we have been running since the mid-1990s, which seems to have a great reputation and has been almost impossible to “damage”! A couple of late nights later I had a new clean design up on UKTW (moving it from a “slower than 70%” to a “faster than 68%” site!) and put in place the 301 redirects and edits to kick all the traffic from seatchoice.com to uktw.co.uk
Within a couple of days the loss of traffic on seatchoice.com was major (as expected) but the growth in traffic for uktw was even better – in other words not only did I move the traffic successfully but I picked up some new people en route! Checking some key phrases on several search engines we dropped from the SERPs for SeatChoice where we had been on pages 5 to 10 and arrived, immediately, on page 2 for UKTW … from nowhere! Now that’s impressive. Its only been 4 days or so and yet traffic is up, sales are up and, if this were to continue, the road to recovery would be visible at last! In fact, we’re already better placed for our important search phrases using UKTW than we ever achieved with SeatChoice in months of trying.
This was a hard decision but I think the right one. We are not dropping the SeatChoice brand, just making it a “service” within the UKTW listings – which is actually where it started a few years ago … perhaps we should have stuck with it that way from day 1 … live and learn.
The journey is not over yet, and we’re still deep in the woods .. but at least now I have found a small path …