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Redirecting to new site

Old and new sites co-existing

     
2:36 pm on Jul 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I have a very small domain which has being functioning for the last 2 or three years as an "online presence" rather than a serious online business site. All this is going to change. I know where I'm going with changes to the content but I would like some advice on handling the redirects that are going to be required.

The existing PR5 site is named after the actual company so the existing domain is "myname.co.za" - not a good choice from an SEO point of view. I have registered new domain names of "reallygoodwidgets.com" and "really-good-widgets.com".

As I understand a permanent redirect (please correct me if I have got this wrong), if someone is redirected from really-good-widgets.com to myname.co.za then the user's browser will display the url of the resultant page at the myname.co.za site. With the domain names being so different, the user will feel very hijacked. So I think that I actually need to put my new content physically at both domains. All requests for reallygoodwidgets.com would be permanently redirected to really-good-widgets.com.

The existing site has a PR5 despite having only 2 external backlinks (GoogleDir and Dmoz).

What should my redirect strategy be? If I duplicate the content will Google get upset? Am I overestimating the effect of redirect on the user? How can I pass the benefit of the existing PR to the new domain?

Thanks in advance for any comments / assistance.

5:30 pm on July 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

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OldFatherTime,

> As I understand a permanent redirect (please correct me if I have got this wrong), if someone is redirected from really-good-widgets.com to myname.co.za then the user's browser will display the url of the resultant page at the myname.co.za site.

Yes, correct.

> With the domain names being so different, the user will feel very hijacked. So I think that I actually need to put my new content physically at both domains. All requests for reallygoodwidgets.com would be permanently redirected to really-good-widgets.com.

> The existing site has a PR5 despite having only 2 external backlinks (GoogleDir and Dmoz).
What should my redirect strategy be? If I duplicate the content will Google get upset?

Google will only get upset if you have a large number of duplicate content domains, and try to obscure the fact that they all lead to the same company. In this case, your competitors may report you, and cause many of them to be removed. If you only have a few domains - not enough for someone to complain about - then Google's response to finding duplicate content will simply be to pick the one with the highest PR, list that one, and assign all PR to it, dropping the rest. However, using a redirect allows *you* to designate the single domain that you want listed, and avoids the possibility of Google picking the wrong one.

> Am I overestimating the effect of redirect on the user?

I don't know your market, but since this concerns you, trust your instincts.

> How can I pass the benefit of the existing PR to the new domain?

A 301-Moved Permanently redirect will pass the PR.

For best results, I believe it is best to promote and use only one domain name per site. I do not allow anyone to link to my sites using anything but the exact "correct" domain name. This keeps PR and link popularity focused on a single URL per page. However, this may not apply to very large, hugely-popular sites that already have high brand-awareness; they can afford to "split" PR and link-pop more than smaller sites can.

If I was in your situation, I would be thinking about how to smoothly transition current users from myname.co.za to really-good-widgets.com without making them feel hijacked. But my ultimate goal would be to use and promote only one domain, keeping the others for long-term "brand retention" only.

I should note here that I'm assuming you've made up your mind to use the keyword-in-domain approach. Many members here will say that long-term, the branded domain is the best approach if you foresee your company becoming larger and selling multiple products in the future. In this case, the small short-term benefit of the keyword-in-domain approach is overshadowed by the importance of long-term brand awareness. Think of really-great-books.com vs. Amazon.com, or really-great-shoes.com vs. Nike.com for example. There is a huge amount of discussion here concerning branding vs. keyword-in-domain. A WebmasterWorld site search for "branding (or brandable) keyword in domain" will turn up many threads.

However, without knowing your visitors and cultural sensitivities, I'd say the safest way to do this is to "talk about it" on your existing domain. You could mention that "We're moving soon" or maybe use something more subtle and indirect, like adding a "Hosted by really-great-widgets.com" message in an area of the page where it is sure to be seen... but it really depends on your market. If you're visitors are VERY sensitive to being redirected, then you may have to leave the old index page up forever, and redirect from there... Maybe redirect all sub-page requests on the old domain to the old domain home page, then explain that you have moved, and then link and redirect from there to really-great-widgets.com.

Then do your best to get all your incoming links changed to point to the new domain.

Changing domain names is always messy, and how you do it depends on what you think will be best from your visitors' perspective. In some cases, all you can do is get the technical solution 100% right, and take a best guess at what will work for your market. If you are big and have the budget to do it, you could redirect a small percentage of visitors, and then track them to see how that affects your conversion rate.

HTH,
Jim

7:26 am on July 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Many thanks Jim for a thorough and well thought-out response.

On reflection, since the existing traffic is quite small (and I can contact a fair number of them), I shall worry less about "hijacking" the users and more about creating the new content. In addition, a prominent link at myname.co.za indicating the new "home domain" should help to divert the traffic in the right direction. When the hits at myname.co.za finally tail off then the domain can be set to a simple permanent redirect.

I'm just about to search WW for your recommended topic of branding vs keyword-in-domain. What about using both e.g. really-good-widgets-at-myname.com (assuming the user doesn't have to type it too often ;) )

6:21 am on July 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I've got a couple of domain names with GoDaddy. They both re-direct, and they use GoDaddy's "masking" feature which keeps the url in the browser address bar the same so that the user doesn't feel hijacked.

This would solve OldFatherTime's problem, and I've always assumed that this feature is OK with SEs, but does anyone know what Google's treatment of this trick is?

Thanks in advance!

3:38 am on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

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> How can I pass the benefit of the existing pr to the new domain?
A 301-Moved Permanently redirect will pass the pr.

What happens to all your incoming links? Does google consider the links pointing to the 301 page now part of the new URL? And vise versa, since google only sees my old domain right now, but it redirects to the new addy, do all the links pointing to the new addy just become a part of the old addy?
Am i making any sense at all?

I have really good listings for some great keywords, but my client wants to change his URL (because he is crazy). Help me out if you can, thanks.

4:35 am on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Purple_Martin,
> They both re-direct, and they use GoDaddy's "masking" feature which keeps the url in the browser address bar the same so that the user doesn't feel hijacked.
>
>This would solve OldFatherTime's problem, and I've always assumed that this feature is OK with SEs, but does anyone know what Google's treatment of this trick is?

Use the WebmasterWorld server headers checker [webmasterworld.com] to access your redirected domains and find out what response the SE spiders see when requesting those "masked" pages; It is likely that you've got frame-forwarding on these domains, and the use of frames is "non-optimal" if you want good spidering results.

A straight-up 301-Moved Permanently redirect is the "clean" way to go; The search engines pretty much all have a "one page, one domain, one listing" policy, and will likely consider frame-forwarding to be either domain spamming or duplicate content. If you don't have a compelling reason to use frame-forwarding, then don't.

mrwhy2k,
>What happens to all your incoming links? Does google consider the links pointing to the 301 page now part of the new URL?

Yes, sort of, but there is an extra step involved, which increases complexity. And less-sophisticated SEs may not. The best approach here is to use the 301 as a "jump start" in moving the site, and then make a concerted effort to get those old incoming links updated. Using the 301 can be considered as a good way to buy time to get this done.

> And vise versa, since google only sees my old domain right now, but it redirects to the new addy, do all the links pointing to the new addy just become a part of the old addy?

No, 301s are not bidirectional. If an SE is spidering the new address, it may not "know" that an older domain exists.

I'll admit that the above statements are "fuzzy" and rather non-commital. The truth is that SEs change their policies and procedures, and improve their capabilities constantly. The best approach is always to be thorough, getting all incoming links updated rather than relying soley on redirects or any other technical solution. Yeah, it's more work, but it keeps things simple and there are less things that can go wrong. However, the 301 redirect can help make a move more quickly, and help retain the benefit of those old incoming links that are not updated quickly (or ever).

Jim

4:52 am on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Thanks Jim.

I just put in one of my goDaddy domains (let's call it www.abc.com) and the header checker returned the following:

HTTP/1.0 302 Found
Date: Tue, 05 Aug 2003 03:06:38 GMT
Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1
Server: Apache/1.3.27 (Unix) PHP/4.3.1
Location: [xyz...]
Via: 1.1 netcache01 (NetCache NetApp/5.4R1)

where "xyz" is the full real non-tld URL that www.abc.com is redirected to.

It doesn't mention frames, so does this mean that goDaddy's masked forwarding is good for SEs? Maybe goDaddy uses 301s?

Thanks

5:34 am on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Purple_Martin,

A frame-forward would just gove you a 200-OK response, I believe.

A 302 is a temporary redirect, so this setup is not going to pass PR to the xyz domain pages, and the SEs will not update their SERPs to show the xyz domain... which may be what you want.

Jim

5:50 am on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Ah. I'd missed the "302" in the header.

So the goDaddy masked redirect uses the 302 temporary redirect: it's SE safe (won't be considered to be either domain spamming or duplicate content) but may not be SE advantageous (won't transfer PR).

I don't want SEs to update their SERPs to show my xyz domain, so I'm happy with the way it's working.

It's good to know how it's all happening. Thanks for your help.

 

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