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Moving domain, diverting traffic without letting Google know about it

 3:46 am on Jan 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

One my site has been hit by Penguin penalty. Without waiting for next Penguin release I want to move my site to another domain. Using 301 for pages could pass the penalty back to the new domain. I've done my best already by disavowing links.

So what is the best way to divert traffic to my site without letting Google know?

I could ask visitors to click on a nofollow link for the moved page. Or I could use Javascript to set the link target instead of using href in <a tag. But Google can figure this out.

Or I can use use a form submit button to be clicked to go the "moved" page.

So what is the best way in this situation?



 6:42 am on Jan 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

I could ask visitors to click on a nofollow link for the moved page.

And the googlebot would close its eyes and pretend it never saw the link?

Or I could use Javascript

Major search engines understand javascript just fine.

You could check for UA and/or IP before issuing a server-side redirect. It should work perfectly for, oh, up to three or four days.


 7:01 am on Jan 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

Lucy good idea about checking UA. Excluding Googlebot IP could be risky as it is called cloaking. What about form submit?

Mine is a small site so Googlebot should not be submitting the form to find the redirected url.

I mean Penguin penalty should not pass back to my new domain but only the human visitors.


 8:43 am on Jan 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

you could pass the URLs through a redirect script and use robots.txt to disallow googlebot from crawling any URLs redirected through that script.


 9:04 am on Jan 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

Phranque superb ! That's the best & simplest.

So the old pages will be redirected to another page named say hiddenredirect.php which does a redirect to the new domain.

And I'd need to add this rule in the Robots.txt:

Disallow : /hiddenredirect.php*

 12:28 pm on Jan 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

From my experience, you can't hide any published pages and any links between pages from search engines. They know it all.


 12:54 pm on Jan 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

We had a few recent discussions on this subject and reading these threads may also help:

Best Way To Redirect Home Page Without Forwarding Penalty / Penguin
31st August 2013
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4606464.htm [webmasterworld.com]

What is best way to redirect traffic without passing on penalty?
13th Auigust 2013
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4599116.htm [webmasterworld.com]

Domain forwarding instead of 301 redirect to avoid passing penalty
18th June 2012
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4466649.htm [webmasterworld.com]


 8:42 pm on Jan 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

Is this possible? Can someone walk me through this?

Is your home page the one that has the most bad links (that generated the Penguin penalty)? In theory, until you can remove enough links, if you get lots of direct traffic, you could have your home page serve a 404 response, but still keep the functionality of it for direct traffic landings.

Or you could make a new home page (/home.html) and again 404 your original home page.

I've waited since Mid-December with my disavow request with no change.

As far as I can tell, my site wide penalty is a result of constant spam to the homepage only (the home page is located on a template used literally by tens of thousands of Chinese domains. Every time I look at new links on a backlink checker, new Chinese domains appear. My most used keyword are the Chinese characters to my home page (literally over 30% of total links. It looks as if I can never solve the penalty problem.

I might be able to take a hit to losing all the links to my homepage, because, after 12 years, many of my inner pages built up their own backlink profiles.

as far as I can tell, my only success in three years has been seeing one of my keywords move in the serps before the tumbler version of the same keyword with the title f****yeah[keyword]


 10:40 pm on Jan 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

JD_Toims provides the complete solution here - Best Way To Redirect Home Page Without Forwarding Penalty / Penguin:
User-Agent: *
Disallow: /blocked-page.php

RewriteEngine on
RewriteRule !^(:?robots\.txt|blocked-page\.php)$ http://www.example.com/blocked-page.php?goto=%{REQUEST_URI} [R=301,L]

Added Note on the Preceding RewriteRule: I had one host (years ago) where I had to code the left-side of the rule as: (:?robots\.txt)|(:?blocked-page\.php) to get it to work on a full file location match for some reason. It's definitely non-standard to the best of my knowledge, but after hours of head scratching and even posting to see if anyone could find a flaw with the initial rule I finally changed the pattern to parenthesis on both side of the | and got it to work. Go figure.


if(filter_var('http://www.new-site.com'.$_GET['goto'],FILTER_VALIDATE_URL)!==FALSE)) {
header('Location: http://www.new-site.com'.$_GET['goto'],TRUE,301);

else {
echo 'Sorry, the URL you have requested appears to be invalid. Please double check the URL and try again.';



 12:33 am on Jan 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

JD_Toims provides the complete solution here - Best Way To Redirect Home Page Without Forwarding Penalty / Penguin:

saw the post, still feeling as if I'm stuck on stupid....

HTML5 site...I want to redirect the home page

domain.com to a new home page, domain.com/home.html

without dragging the penalty with it (same domain different page)

I guess I could add a few lines of php code to the current index.html page for the redirect, robots.txt...no problem

what am I missing?


 12:42 am on Jan 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

you want to redirect your old home page to a page on the same domain?


 12:48 am on Jan 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

you want to redirect your old home page to a page on the same domain?

yes...without dragging the penguin penalty along...

from domain.com (index.html is the current page) to domain.com/home.html


 5:25 am on Jan 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

itsjustme2 you can give a 404 for the home page and also show the page normally to the visitors. That is sure way to remove penalty due to backlinks to your home page.

But this thread : https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!msg/webmasters/6q3p5ulrVgk/a87A3-RoopcJ shows that even if our pages don't exist then also Google can penalize our sites just because of poor backlinks.

So we must disavow links.


 7:23 am on Mar 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

Google Penalties Might Follow You To A New Domain Name
http://www.seroundtable.com/google-penalty-site-move-18163.html [seroundtable.com]

If the site is basically a copy of the site and all you are doing is moving it to a new domain in order to leave your link or other Google penalty behind, it might back fire on you. Google's John Mueller told me yesterday in a video at 23 minutes and 15 seconds in that it is very possible that the penalty will follow the new domain even without redirects.

English Google Webmaster Central B&M SMB Site-Clinic office-hours hangout
trt 1:03:40

This is new roadblock to moving site without letting Google know of it. So I think I should disallow in robots.txt the old site and delete all url's from Google's cache.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 9:23 am (utc) on Mar 1, 2014]
[edit reason] added titles, urls, quote [/edit]


 8:59 am on Mar 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

John said that if you have a site with a penalty and you take the site and simply move it to a new domain name, even without using the site migration tool or setting up redirects, Google may figure out it was a site move and pass along the penalty.

If only they were half as good at picking up scraped, copied, duplicated content.

Seriously? Sometimes I wish they'd stop and rethink their theories for even half-a-second, because it's totally ridiculous to transfer a penalty from one site to another when an original content generator moves to a new domain without trying to transfer any links, or anything other than visitors, while at the same time not tanking all the scrapers and content thieves out there.

There's some seriously "I don't get it" thinking, theory and practice on G's part sometimes -- And, imo, this is one of those times.

[edited by: JD_Toims at 9:17 am (utc) on Mar 1, 2014]


 7:32 am on Mar 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

< moved from another location >

If I use Disallow:/ in the first line in robots.txt will Google immediately delete the url it is trying to crawl?

I mean will it:
  • Delete the cache of the URL from it's index
  • Delete the URL Page Rank and it's history
  • Delete the URL as if it never saw it ever before?

I'm looking for a way that will meet all three points as I'd like to move my existing site.

Otherwise this problem [seroundtable.com] can come back.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 9:05 am (utc) on Mar 1, 2014]


 5:12 pm on Mar 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

Blocking Googlebot in that way will not remove your page, AKAIK, because it's not allowed to actually access the page. To remove a page from the index, you need to have an on-site no-index meta tag (or use the remove URL tool in WMT).

As for the page rank and URL history, no it won't. There is a history of answered questions by Matt Cutts and others that a penalty can follow a domain for a long time, even after it's been abandoned.

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