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10.3.2 301 Moved Permanently
The requested resource has been assigned a new permanent URI and any future references to this resource SHOULD use one of the returned URIs. Clients with link editing capabilities ought to automatically re-link references to the Request-URI to one or more of the new references returned by the server, where possible. This response is cacheable unless indicated otherwise.
Over the past several months there have been many dicussions concerning issues when using 301s. There are also issues with 302s but I won't address those in this topic.
The suggestion in the search engine marketing community when moving an old domain to a new domain is usually to use a 301 Moved Permanently. While this may be the correct method based on the protocol, it may not be the best option.
I am basing my statements above on personal experience and also a culmination of others who are having similar problems. It has been 113 days since I implemented a 301 from an old established domain to a new branded domain. All three of the majors (Google, Yahoo!, MSN) reacted very similarly in how they treated the 301s.
With Google, there was spidering immediately once the new site was launched. This was due to the 301 from old to new. There was a brief period where the new site appeared in its expected position. And then within 48 hours it was gone, not to be seen again until recently.
From that point forward, the old URI remained indexed and the client did appear for name searches. But, everything else was gone. We spent hours mapping old URIs to new URIs and double checked everything using various server tools prior to launch. This was by the book.
Yahoo! and MSN also maintained the old URI and were very slow to pick up the new URI. After the first of the year, that changed. Both Yahoo! and MSN have now purged the old URIs and have indexed the new ones.
To summarize this...
If you are going to move an old domain to a new domain, you may want to consider other options besides a 301. Figure out a way to keep the old site live while you make the slow transition from old to new. Don't abruptly stop everything to the old and expect it to transfer to the new. It just won't happen, at least in the 15-20 instances that I am aware of it hasn't.
I want to call this the new Kiss of Death in a search engine marketing campaign. That might be a little overboard. Expect to have some major downtime if you run into what I've seen and experienced first hand.
301s within an existing site are no problem. They are usually picked up within 48-96 hours (Google) and the old URI is dropped and replaced with the new URI. Yahoo! and MSN react similarly but take a little longer.
Anyone else care to share their 301 horror stories?
I'd like to widen the scope of investigation just a tiny bit. Can you describe the situation with respect to incoming links to the old and new domains? I'm wondering if you got new backlinks to the new domain, and how many of the old backlinks were updated to point to the new domain, as these factors may have some bearing on the indexing situation.
From that point forward, the old URI remained indexed and the client did appear for name searches.
Ha, we don't even get that with one client; name searches only work with 'filter=0', and at that sometimes the 301'd url shows up #1, otherwise the new site shows up #2.
We have new links pointed at the new site.
It would appear to me that we're sandboxed. This 'new' domain used to redirect to the now redirected domain, but for branding purposes we switched.
There has been the odd spark of light, where the new domain shows up on the first page for a name search, so we do have hope.
IMO it's a reliability issue; tho you'd think a stable aged domain that transfers would still carry it's weight.
Can you describe the situation with respect to incoming links to the old and new domains?
jd, you bring up a good point and it is the last thing on my list of variables that would have affected this.
Yes, there were a few links to the new domain, not many though. There are plenty of links to the old domain. We have been slowly getting those updated as the weeks go by. It is a very difficult task in this instance due to the nature of the subject. There are quite a few personal pages with inbounds.
I'm wondering if you got new backlinks to the new domain, and how many of the old backlinks were updated to point to the new domain, as these factors may have some bearing on the indexing situation.
Oh, no problems with indexing, the site was indexed within 48 hours after launch. Within 30 days Google had grabbed most, if not all of the URIs available for indexing.
We are still waiting for both the ODP and Yahoo! to update their directories with the new URI. The change requests were sent in October. I have a funny feeling that once those change, things may come around a bit.
Still, you would think that with using the 301 that there would be some transferrence of credit from the old URI to the new URI. I do believe there was as the site obtained PR at the beginning of January at the same time the old URI was dropped and the new one appeared consistently.
P.S. When I first posted this topic, I was sure it was going to take off. It sat for a bit which worried me. Now that I see others are having similar issues, it helps me in accepting that it is not me, but them (the search engines)! ;)
(samedomain/oldfolder/samecontent --> samedomain/newfolder/samecontent)
I would like to use 301 redirects in hope that my Page Rank is not lost or badly hurt. My plan is to choose one content section (4-10 pages in the same folder) at a time and redirect them to their new folder location (and new technology). I would probably space out the redirections every few weeks or so.
Does this plan have any loop holes? Does this help anyone else?
Also, if anyone knows of a good JSP/Tomcat5.x 301 Redirect solution, please let me know.