There are times when you want to merge two or more websites into a single one for convenience, both yours and the end users’. There are also times when you want to split your existing larger website into smaller sites to handle matters in a better way.
For example, you may have 3 sites in 3 different languages for your customers. However, on analysis, you find that these three sites are not feasible to maintain. You want to merge them into a single one. Another example could be that you sell 3 different products and each has several sub-sections. Having them under one umbrella is confusing the users. So, you want a site each for each product.
Once you do that, your next question will be, how will this affect my website rankings on Google’s SERPs?
The answer is, your rankings will be affected and they will remain unstable for months! That is the answer provided by John Mueller on Google Webmaster Central hangout zone in response to a question put forward by a user. Mueller feels that such a move, of merging or splitting websites, is actually ‘unrealistic’ and will pave the way for instability in the SERP ranks for some time.
Here’s the full transcript of what Mueller said on the video in response to this question:
“I think what you’re doing is splitting an existing website and kind of taking part of that content and putting it on a different website.
I think the main thing that you need to be aware of is that when you split a website, or when you merge a website, it’s a lot harder for us to process that compared to a normal site. So that’s something where I would go with the expectation that it’s going to take a bit of time for everything to settle down, and it’s not absolutely clear what the final state will be.
If you split out some content from one website and put it on a new website, does that mean the new website will be getting just as many clicks and impressions as the old website got? Probably not, there will probably be a difference. If you’re also adding new content to the new website then you will see differences anyway. I think just from an expectations point of view it’s worth keeping in mind that this is not a trivial change, for a larger website at least. So you need to be a bit patient.
With regards to what you need to do there is, primarily, to make sure you have redirects set up for the individual pages from the old one to the new one. With regards to internal linking on the old website and the new website you can kind of have that covered as well. So, for example, if someone linked to one of those pages internally within the website then make sure that internal link points to the new website instead. So then we really have all of the signals that tell us “this content piece here moved to this website and we should index it as this website.”
So I think that’s the primary thing from a technical point of view. To make the new website multilingual I think that’s a great thing to do in any case, and I would just make sure that you have hreflang set up properly for those pages. Usually that’s less complicated if you don’t have a lot of different language versions, but in general that’s something that’s kind of standard nowadays. A lot of people have those kind of things set up.
I think this is a good move, you just have to be patient.”