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Domain forwarding instead of 301 redirect to avoid passing penalty

 9:37 am on Jun 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi Guys,

Would just like to canvas opinion on something. We have a website that had good page 1 rankings which has now dropped severely in April around the dates of penguin and panda refreshes. We have taken action on anything that could be panda related. However, I feel previous domains this site used which have over optimised anchor text backlinks are 301 redirecting to this new domain and passing a penguin problem.

We want one of these domains to forward to the current troubled site because its still 'known' and used a little so we should forward it without a 301 in my opinion. How would you suggest this can be done, URL forwarding?




 5:12 pm on Jun 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

URL forwarding is often just sales speak for a 301 redirect. Google historically has had trouble dealing with multiple redirects. You could try running several consecutive redirects using urls that are blocked via robots.txt. That will make it harder on Google. It does not guarantee Google won't be able to follow it since they can get data from chrome users and users with Google toolbars.


 5:17 pm on Jun 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Mmm, Im not hot on server dns stuff, but cant you change a cname or something so that a domain resolves at the current main site or does is simply show the current main site at the old domain...now Im thinking about it Im sure the later is correct and what I was thinking of . Is there any problem with this from an SEO health perspective?


 5:48 pm on Jun 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

What is URL forwarding if it isn't a 301 or 302 redirect?


 5:55 pm on Jun 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

What is URL forwarding if it isn't a 301 or 302 redirect?

I'll jump in, I think I'm correct:-)

URL forwarding is done using a 301 or 302 at one's domain registrar whereas it is possible to do a 301/302 using htaccess on the actual domain or through CPanel.

Tell me I'm right since that is how I've always understood it:-)


 6:23 pm on Jun 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

@thudufushi this is an idea. I made it myself, I think this minimize 301 redirect effects on 404 responses at the end of the redirect chain. You can host both domains, old domain, and new domain in the same webserver. Make one of them the main domain, say new domain, the other is a serveralias. You can do that configuring the same virtual server in httpd.conf,

ServerName new.com
ServerAlias old.com

This way all requests will go to the same virtual. Then in each page, insert

<link rel="canonical" href="http://new.com/path" />

"path" should be path of each page. This way 404/410 will be handled immediatly and real 301 will be handled by rel canonical. Just an idea but I think it is woking.


 6:35 pm on Jun 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Could try forwarding via meta refresh

<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0;URL='http://example.com/'" />


 6:36 pm on Jun 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Or redirect using javascript

<SCRIPT language="JavaScript">


 6:51 pm on Jun 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

You could, but a proper HTTP 301 redirect is the correct course of action.

Ensure that non-canonical requests are redirected to the canonical URL in a single step. Avoid multiple step redirection chains.

If Not Found and Gone URLs can serve their status without a non-www/www redirect that's even better still.


 7:02 pm on Jun 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

@legaleagle AFAIK meta refresh and / or window.location donīt work as 301, both return OK 200, then Googlebot canīt see the redirect.

@g1smd whatīs your thought about my recipe? TIA


 7:40 pm on Jun 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Dont you just set the old domain as an alias of the new domain, no redirection, the new site just shows at the old domain?


 7:52 pm on Jun 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

It does, but then you have a Duplicate Content problem.

Two ways to fix:
- 301 redirect all non-canonical-hostname requests to the correct URL per page, or
- add the
rel="canonical" tag to all pages, each one including the canonical hostname in the referenced URL.

I have always prefered the former, however there are some advantages (especially in analytics tracking) in using the latter.


 9:03 pm on Jun 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

AFAIK meta refresh and / or window.location donīt work as 301, both return OK 200, then Googlebot canīt see the redirect.

Sorry I must have misunderstood I thought the OP wanted a way to redirect that google couldn't follow so penalty wasn't passed on but users were redirected. If thats not the case I would vote for a 301


 12:49 am on Jun 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Perhaps we should get confirmation on one thing at a time. Can a penalty be passed from one page to another via 301 or are both pages judged individually?


 4:04 am on Jun 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

WMT shows duplicates even for sitemaps using 301 wildcards from original domain extensions and think there is a dup content penalty, but not from the old backlinks that use exact matches to the domain names and get forwarded. Using WMT to "Change of Address" domains of different extension WITH 301 wildcards, I've seen traffic drop on the destination domains soon after the change of addresses expires on forwarded domains with the above mentioned over optimised links, then go back up soon after renewing it.


 4:10 am on Jun 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

RE: the meta-fresh. If you do a short one as a redirect to the new domain, BOTH Google and Bing will consider that a regular 301 redirect. The incoming links from the old domain will appear for the new domain inside both webmaster tools.


 1:31 pm on Jun 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

So basically, the answer is 'don't know' or 'can't be done'. I think this is a huge and growing problem that is going to be quite common given the way google is now bombing sites for over optimisation of backlinks etc. If you need to move forward in real business world timescales you often have to use a new domain and start fresh. You cannot 301 the old domain because in most cases it WILL pass any penalty on to the new site. However, you might have branding and some traffic arriving at the old site which you dont want to lose.

You then get to the point of my original post which if I can clarify it again is:

How can you get traffic arriving at old domain to arrive at new domain without passing a google algo penalty (which a 301 will do)?


 1:59 pm on Jul 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

Would a 302 work? Google doesn't "typically pass PageRank through 302s".


Robert Charlton

 7:50 pm on Jul 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

Mod's note:

Fuller context of the above comment (to explain why we're allowing the link)...

Matt Cutts Interviewed by Eric Enge

Here's the section with Matt's comments about 302s...
Matt Cutts: 302s are intended to be temporary. If you are only going to put something in place for a little amount of time, then 302s are perfectly appropriate to use. Typically, they wouldn't flow PageRank, but they can also be very useful. If a site is doing something for just a small amount of time, 302s can be a perfect case for that sort of situation.


 11:00 pm on Jul 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google also tends to list the redirecting URL in the SERPs when that URL returns a 302 status, and not list the redirected-to URL.

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