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This 246 message thread spans 9 pages: < < 246 ( 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 > >     
The 301 Club
301 permanent redirect's & Google

 9:08 pm on Sep 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

With so much conjecture about 301 redirects I thought it would be nice to discuss experiences others have had and to also explore possible consequences when using a 301 redirect. Letís try to explore alternative redirects and what might help one make a smooth transition if there is such a thing. I realize that this topic has been discussed already in some detail throughout these forums but maybe this thread can serve as a clearing house of the various ideas, theories and myths related to 301 redirects. Iím not speaking of the www vs. non-www redirects but, rather a whole domain redirect for the purposes of rebranding, avoiding copyright issues or any other practical reasons for changing a domain name.

Here is my experience with a recent 301 redirect:

--Popular travel niche website approx 4 years old.
--Actively covering all topics related to my niche but we also sell entire vacationsÖ think of this site as being a vortal covering everything and anything dealing with this niche including up-to-date news, weather, unique articles, forums, interactive tools for planning a vacation and a bunch more all of which are free.
--Very little link trading with the bulk of links coming in naturally
--Very little outbound linking
--Clean HTML (for the most part)
--Some JavaScript but nothing black hat or meant for SEO
--Listed in DMOZ, Yahoo Directory, Zeal and Google Directory
--Was a PR 4 with about 50 inbound links
--Index count was 6,080
--Was in the top 10 results pretty solid even through Bourbon and other various updates

The 301 bomb (website suicide), applied a domain wide 301 redirect via IIS to a domain that is 18 months old. E.G. olddomain.com/widgets --> newdomain.com/widgets
I have seen some people post ďwhy would you do this?Ē Ö this isnít a valid question in my opinion because there are lots of very good reasons to do so.

--301 was put in place roughly 80 days ago
--After approx 5 days the site was nowhere to be found in the SERPís
--Sent a request to help@ and was told the site was not banned or penalized
--Started the long waiting process
--Quasay non existent update Gilligan started
--Old domain was stripped of PR across all DCís
--New domain still has no PR on any DCís
--BLís update to 138 on most DCís
--Google Directory updated showing the new domain as a PR 6 and at the top of my niche
--site:oldsite.com would reveal the new domain
--index count is fluxing between 10,300 and 10,900
--PR begins to return to the old domain!
--alas, no where in the SERPís even after going 50 pages deep.

Sounds like classic sandbox in my opinion but I think a better name would be ďGilliganís IslandĒ because most of us in 301 club feel stranded on a deserted island with no hope of rescue but occasionally there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon.

I also want to point out that until you have been through an experience like this itís not helping anyone to call people in this situation whiners, or something inflammatory because we are simply trying to figure out how to make a some what smooth transition and to avoid the sandbox.

Well, if you are still reading you are probably in this position now but if you are thinking about doing a 301 redirect, do so understanding that you will loss rank for at least several weeks.

Here some alternatives that have been discussed

1)Meta refresh to new domain Ė bad, could get a dupe content filter
2)JavaScript redirect Ė bad, looks too black hat or spammy
3)302 redirect Ė is not permanent and is also very spammy looking
4)404 all old pages Ė donít know how this would work
5)Build a new site which simply wasnít an option for me because I have a lot of unique content that would take weeks to regenerate without having any duplication

Another way to look at this was put best by jd01
It appears...
New Domain with 301 from old site = New Site
New Domain with no redirect from old site = New Site
New Domain with meta refresh from old site = New Site
New Domain and old domain with old content = New Site & Dup Content
IOW New Domain = New Site
Don't change if you don't have to - the, for lack of a better term, sandbox is in play.

I have searched high and wide looking for success stories and only found a few where as horror stories are the norm.

Being that GoogleGuy is the closest thing we have to a direct contact (for most of us anyway) I would greatly appreciate his feedback.



 6:20 am on Sep 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

I just want to reiterate - some of us who are having this 301 problem are not redirecting to "new" domains. In my case the domain I am redirecting to has been registered in my name for the past four years.


 6:42 am on Sep 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

Registered isn't the point. Anything that has not been crawled, indexed and ranked for the past twelve months is "new".


 8:48 am on Sep 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

I still don't understand how others have been able to do the 301 with no problem... I'm baffled and even more confused now.

Almost forgot, the DC's are almost in total alignment for my new domain... all are reporting 10,100 indexed, all but 2 are reporting 138 BL's and the 2 DC's that aren't reporting BL's are the two servers that are holding onto PR for the old domain.

Still hoping for a SERP return when the new domain is recalculated (whatever that means).


 8:52 am on Sep 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

More likely they don't see it as a problem.

If this were true, presumably they would say so.

Kaled, I believe they have mentioned it somewhere. Various others have offered technical explanations in several other threads that strictly speaking, in the narrowest sense of the word, not to put too fine a point on it, technically, Google is following established standards and it's negligent webmasters who've caused the problem. The smart thing about Yahoo is that they've been working on the assumption that not everybody building sites has a PhD in standards, protocols, and procedures. And they don't have this problem - or issue if some prefer - with www and non-www.


 10:12 am on Sep 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

There have been enormous discussions as to the technical rightness of Google's policy on redirects. The fact remains that neither users nor webmasters are being well-served by the way Google handles redirects.

I've been programing for over twenty years on and off - this smells like a bug not a policy. Sometimes there is a gray area between the two, I tend to call these "behavioural anomalies".

For instance, I'm looking at some graphic software for creating perspective views. Unfortunately, one that I like causes diagonal lines to bend and large ellipses to appear distorted. The algorithm is the problem not the implementation so is this a bug?

I've emailed the company explaining where the fault lies but my guess is they know about it and can't be bothered to fix it. Does that sound familiar?



 10:34 am on Sep 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

I've emailed the company explaining where the fault lies

Care to share?



 11:29 am on Sep 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

kaled, not accepting it as a bug means you don't have to provide the webmaster community with a reason why you're not fixing it. Did Matt Cutts say somewhere that they discussed vaious ways of tackling the problem, including using a Yahoo type solution?

I too would be interested in what you care to share about where you believe the fault lies.


 12:21 pm on Sep 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

I emailed the graphics company explaining where the fault lies - I don't think that's relevant to this discussion.

However, I have said previously that if Google always indexed the targets of redirects, the problem of page-hijacking would vanish. That said, I accept that this would not be a perfect solution. Like others, I have made more sophistated suggestions but there comes a point when you give up.

Since GG does not chime in and say "there is no problem" whenever this comes up we must assume that Google recognises that a problems exists. The fact that it has not been fixed means that either they can't fix it or they can't be bothered to fix it. As I said before - you choose.



 9:12 pm on Sep 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

So much for my alignment theory... all DC's are in complete alignment for my new domain and the old domain has no PR... still nothing in the SERP's ... hope is fading :-(


 11:42 pm on Sep 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

GoogleGuy has said in the past that 301s will be handled normally, so I think handling them badly might actually be a glitch.


 12:11 am on Sep 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

will be handled normally

The behavior described in this thread is normal... this is not the exception but rather the rule.


 7:07 am on Sep 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

Whilst I don't know a great deal about the 301 redirect problem, implimenting it on my site does seem to have a negative effect on it.

Before the domain name was added my site ranked within the top 3 for my chosen keyword. Afterwords it hit #1 and it seemed that it was the new domain that caused this. However when I checked Google a few weeks later my site was several pages down in the SERP's. Last time I managed to pick it up was a few weeks ago and that was on page 18.

I'm still not sure it was the redirect that did this. There were no other major changes at the time that could warrent such a drop though (there was a degree of rebranding, with the page title and text which previous held the site name being changed to the new domain name).

Here's how the redirect looks in the .htaccess file;

redirect 301 /folder/
redirect 301 /folder/

The keyword itself is not highly competitive.


 7:20 am on Sep 11, 2005 (gmt 0)


>>There were no other major changes at the time that could warrent such a drop though (there was a degree of rebranding, with the page title and text which previous held the site name being changed to the new domain name).<<

Howmany pages have you done such a change on?


 8:05 am on Sep 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

A fair amount I guess. The site itself is pretty static so changes made are usually done to the root and first sub directories before being rolled out across the site. As things stand now most of the pages now contain the new domain name.


 9:15 am on Sep 11, 2005 (gmt 0)


In this case, you may wish to view this thread.


I hope this help.


 7:34 pm on Sep 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

I've seen it suggested elsewhere that a 302 redirect to the new domain might produce the desired results. The theory being that the old pages would continue to rank while the aging filter started running on the new domain. At some point when the new domain comes out of the sandbox the 302 could be changed to a 301.

Any thoughts on whether or not this would work and what additional problems it might create? It sounds somewhat risky.


 7:50 pm on Sep 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

Has anyone had any experience redirecting to a new subdomain of your current domain? For a number of reasons I'm forced to redirect our old www. domain to our new site in development, but it has to be on a new subdomain. Should I be able to avoid the sandbox, since it's still a part of our established domain?


 8:05 pm on Sep 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

I find this discussion worrying as it appears webmasters have used the correct way to close down a domain and 301 perminent redirect to another domain as per Googles guidelines and are being penalised

I am I correct in my assumption that the way most have handled moving from one site to another is the correct way as per recommendation by all SE's and G seems to be penalising

just what i understand from others comments

maybe GG could comment if webmasters are doing this incorrectly and advise if there is a better way


 11:12 pm on Sep 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

I did the domian name change by the book so-to-speak and was sandboxed... Starting over is to overwhelming and I'm simply giving up. Let this be a warning to others to use anything but a 301 redirect... there has been a lot of talk about how the other methods are risky but to me I'd rather have a chance than to know that 301'ing is starting over.


 11:50 pm on Sep 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

It's not the 301's fault. You are starting over. Google has a blanket, well-known policy, which doesn't make sense overall, but not letting a 301 effect how it views a new domain obviously makes sense or the whole sandbox could be easily circumvented by everyone.


 11:54 pm on Sep 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

The blanket must have holes then because some sites have no problem at all with the 301... seems to be a random policy at best.


 12:01 am on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

1) Google remains non-perfect.

2) Every one of its blankets has many holes in it.

3) Some "new" sites have been indexed with placeholders for months/years and likely get treated differently than first time indexed sites.

The main thing though is if you expect perfection and 100% consistent application from Google (or any search engine) you will live a life of constant disappointment.


 12:16 am on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

I was not claiming that anyone SE (or anyone for that matter) is perfect or is expected to be but this thread may serve as a cautionary tale to other webmasters considering using the guidelines for a domain name change. A 301 redirect is a sandboxer 90% of the time so I say why not try the other methods where your odds of transitioning smooth are far greater?!


 6:36 am on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

So, has anyone tried a 302 redirect instead of a 301 (until the new domain comes out of the sandbox)?



 6:49 am on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

Planet -

Most advise using 301s and NOT 302s, including Google engineers I talked to at WebmasterWorld and SES conferences.

We've had OK luck getting our many 301'd pages back into the index (I credit sitemaps) but they remain effectively out of the SERPs. Duplicate content appears to be an issue and I remain confused about what's up.


 8:28 am on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

I am tempted to use the removal tool on the old domain to see if that clears things up... any thoughts?


 9:40 am on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

When is the next shareholder's meeting? I've said it many times before - the only way to get Google to fix this is to embarass them.

Because search engines have so much power, I believe that a small degree of regulation is required. This is a perfect example of why I believe this. A regulator could instruct Google to fix it or face heavy fines.

Let's not get into a discussion on regulation in this thread



 9:44 am on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hmmmm - Well I just feel that Google cant fix it.

Google must be embarrased a bit anyway as they refuse to comment on the problem.


 11:12 am on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

the only way to get Google to fix this is to embarass them.
I just feel that Google cant fix it.
People said the same about the "canonical page" problem but there have been few reports of page jacking recently...

The canonical page fix seems to have introduced a few new quirks in 301 handling. I'll be surprised if they're not resolved with the next algo update.

Algo updates happen about every three months. One way to tell when an update is due is when webmasters begin accusing Google of being unwilling or unable to fix a problem. ;)


 11:37 am on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

a new subdomain of your current domain?

Blimey - I am just wondering the same thing as we need to do a massive redirect of traffic today or tomorrow, from www.domain to uk.domain

We have actually chosen to keep some of the old www. site running, and then redirect some of the www. to the new uk. site. Plus there are normal OBL for certain areas from the nav.

I am happy to do the 'proper' thing - in the hope that google sorts itself out (if need be) - plus also means that I don't have to do anything else given that Yahoo and MSN can figure out what 301 redirect means by all accounts.

Any one help on this one?


 11:52 am on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

>>>>canonical page fix

What canonical page fix?

302 hijack maybe fixed (well less obvious to see) but canonical page problems are rampant.

This 246 message thread spans 9 pages: < < 246 ( 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 > >
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