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Redirection to a new domain

Google indexed issue



11:11 am on Sep 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Please kindly help me with the problem described below:

I have an old site which has a excellent on Google, and the PR is 5 now. But for certain reasons, it must be abolished in the coming months. So I built a bran-new site and submitted to google a month ago. To my great surprise, the new site has not been listed on Google yet when I do a search [site:mydomain.com], no results... ;(

I just don't know why. I haven't tried any sneaky, spammy tactics, the sitemap.xml file has been submitted OK, and I have added a few quality links. Yahoo, MSN has included my new site, but google...

I conside using domain redirection, such as 301 redirection. But I am afraid it may influence the rank of old site. And I also attempt to use Javascipt code to redirect as follows:
<script language="javascript">location.replace("http://www.example.com/index.html")</script>
Is it feasible way? Or what should I do to list the new domain in Google ASAP and not slide down my old site rank on Google. It will be greatly appreciated if you can guide me how can I, or the best way should I do now.

Regards and thanks.

[edited by: trillianjedi at 11:40 am (utc) on Sep. 1, 2005]
[edit reason] Please examplify code snippets - thanks. [/edit]


1:33 am on Sep 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Please help me sort the above problem out, thanks for your time.


3:39 am on Sep 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm assuming your new site is on a new domain. In the old days I would have suggested doing a 301 redirect from the old site to the new site. However, I can tell you from personal experience that approach will likely send you straight to the sandbox.

This is a very good question and one that needs to be answered. Google's webmaster guidelines are not much help in this area. What should we do if we need to move an established site from one domain to a new domain?


5:52 am on Sep 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

If you have an old domain with PR5, it's most unfortunate to move the site from it to freshly registered one, and you should avoid it at any price. But it nothing can be done about it, you could do some redirects to help new domain as much as possible.

First, if you registered new domain a few months before launching a site under it, you could risk putting 301 redirect from new domain to old domain - after next toolbar PR a new domain will have stolen PR from old page, but this redirect will prevent from indexing new domain, so it's very tricky and crazy idea. Though someone might want to try this.

When new site is launched, any redirect like above has to be cancelled, and you need quality links. If you're shutting down the old site, do 301 redirect from its main page, and also try to 301 redirect all deeper urls from old site to pages in new site with the same subject. But ensure, that each deep url you 301 from what you're redirecting still has some inbound links so Googlebot will crawl it.

I'd avoid javascript redirects, they do mess in Google index - Google indexes new url but sometimes doesn't forget the old one. 301 doesn't work perfectly too, but I think works better at least.

If old site was listed in DMOZ, send them URL update. If old url has 301 to new, after such request DMOZ changes the url. DMOZ link would be great help for your new domain.

This are my opinions, and I'm not stating it definitely, some members may know better, but this is what I would think about if I were facing your problem. I don't know how to ensure avoiding sandbox in this situation, mayby someone could point a way.


4:20 pm on Sep 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Wizard - your suggestions are exactly what I did a few months back with one of my sites. Page Rank and backlinks transfered as expected. However, I've been in the sandbox for over three months now.

It doesn't seem right that an established site should be filtered just because the domain changed. Especially if 301 redirects are done from the original site and the new domain has been registered for a while (a couple of years in my case).

It would be nice for Google to acknowledge that webmasters occasionally have a need to change domains and to provide some guidance on the best way to make the transition without loosing the site's ranking.


6:32 pm on Sep 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Yeah, it leads to sandbox, but if anyone a better solution please share it with us.

Of course there are soo many weird things to try. You could leave old domain for Google, and cloak all requests sending the content for Googlebot and redirect to new domain for users. So users will be directed to new domain while in Google index there will be the old one. And as you didn't need to have new pages in Google index, you could give them cloaky redirects for Googlebot to high PR pages so all your pages would appear to have PR 8 or higher.

But clearly it could end up with a penalty, so I don't think it's worth risking.


8:18 pm on Sep 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have also done a 301 redirect recently from a well established domain to a domain that is now 18 months old yet I'm stuck in the sandbox. The 301 was put in place June 10th, over 4k pages indexed, listed in DMOZ & Yahoo and GBot has used nearly 4GB in bandwidth over the last month. I have checked everything including making sure my robots.txt was corrected, checked my IP for abuse history (well I checked the IP for blacklisting), made sure my meta tags are correct, submitted a G Sitemap, got most of my BL's updated and sacrificed a chicken under the full moon.

Why-O-Why are sites punished for this?
Do I have any hope for this next update?

Just as a side note all of the PR prediction tools are predicting a 6 for this site… I know PR doesn’t matter much but I grasping at straws here.


2:19 am on Sep 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I would like to add my case to the sandbox issue. I changed domain name 4 months ago and used 301 redirects on all pages, now I only appear in complex searches or typos. I'm pretty happy with the new name, but boy, there is sure a price to pay. Add to that pages from your old site may get into supplemental results and your new site will be penalised for having duplicates.

You know, for Google being the top dog and all, I didn't have any problem whatsoever with Yahoo! or MSN during that domain change. What gives?

Just make sure you REALLY want that new domain name, cause you may not perform as well with Google for quite a while after that (4 months so far for me... who knows how long still). Hopefully you have alternative marketing methods, cause you'll need them.


2:38 am on Sep 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

My old domain is still fully indexed does this mean that my new domain is getting a dupe content penalty? Seems like a catch 22 but would explain alot! Should I use the removal option for the old domain? Do the 301 redirected domains come back to life in the SERP's after an update like the one we could see between now and December?


6:21 am on Sep 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I agree with many of the comments above that these days it seems to be pretty impossible to transition to a new domain name and hope that PR will follow.

These days, if you realize that you MUST drop the old domain, I am afraid that we must accept that the new domain has to start from scratch. Hopefully you have enough time for the transition period that the new domain will be able to overcome the sandbox and start gaining rank on its own.

When you create the new domain's website, but make sure that it has absolutely no duplicate content. It can be on topic, but totally different new unique content. Start it the same way you would start any new domain. Get some links pointed to it so that the spiders have a way to get to it. "Submitting" is chancy, good backlinks are best to get the spiders in quickly.

Sad as it sounds, when you get ready to take down the old domain, do just that. Take the pages down and let them all 404. Make sure that they have all been spidered and 404'd (this might take some time) before you attempt to "update" the new domain website with the old pages' content. Take heart - if you were able to build a good website before, you will be able to do so again.

I urge you NOT to use the Google removal tool. This seems to just remove them from the public index, but Google still has them in it's memory somewhere. And they will pop back into the public index after 6 months. Once again, even though they have been "gone" for 6 months, Google already knows they are duplicate content, so the minute they return to the public index as supplemental results, bam, duplicate content penalty on the new site.


6:25 am on Sep 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

modemmike - I did a 301 redirect from all old pages to new pages. It took a couple of weeks, but Google eventually picked up the pages at the new domain and dropped the pages from the old domain. Shortly after that there was a period where I was briefly out of the index entirely, then back in again.

Sounds like you've got a lot of pages. If they're scripted at all you might try modifying your script to generate the 301 for each page.

BTW, PageRank ultimately carried over (in fact, new pages have shown up as PR5 since the last update) but I'm still not showing up in the G SERPs.


6:29 am on Sep 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

cws3di - Not sure I agree with your suggestion to let pages on the old domain go 404. With a 301 redirect Google recognizes backlinks to the old pages when I do a links: search for my new domain. I'm assuming this will ultimately help me when I finally do come out of the sandbox. Also, I'm pretty sure my PR would not have transefered if I'd just let the old site go 404.

I sure wish someone from Google would take note of this thread and comment on the correct way to move a site to a new domain without being penalized. There should be some best practice recommendations.


7:27 am on Sep 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

PlanetTokyo, thanks for the feedback...

I have IIS setup to 301 redirect every page to the same page on the new domain (siteA.com/widgets.htm will convert to siteB.com/widgets.htm).

I sure wish someone from Google would take note of this thread...

I second that, because I have read so many conflicting threads (here and elsewhere) from "the 301 took 3 weeks and all is well" to "it's been over a year and still nothing". This area of "domain name changes" seems to be a very unstable and problematic thing for Google or maybe it's simply a way to make expamles of sites not to do this very thing.

PlanetTokyo, how many months since you invoked the 301?


5:25 pm on Sep 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I did my 301 redirects towards the end of May (around the time Bourbon hit, although I wasn't aware of that until shortly after I made the change). I was completely out of all SERPs by June 1.


2:26 am on Sep 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

you're right PlanetTokyo - I don't like my suggestion either :-) It's just totally distasteful to 404 the pages and lose the past work.

But I haven't had any long-lasting luck with 301s. At first they seem to work, but then the new site just starts sliding downhill.

I have a not-too-well-formed guess/theory that some sort of penalty eventually catches up to the new site because the "old" site suddenly "lost" a bunch of backlinks. Does that make any sense?

So, lately I have just been trying to start clean sites from scratch and build them up to a PR 4 or 5 on their own, rather than risk these esoteric penalties because I'm not sure of the exact steps that Google expects me to take. It takes a lot of time to start from scratch, but it takes even MORE time to dig out of a penalty that you aren't even sure of the reason for.

There seem to be multiple factors involved, and apparently I'm not taking them ALL into account with just a 301 perm redirect.


5:19 pm on Sep 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

cws3di - you hit on an interesting question that I've been wondering about recently. That is, "Would I have been better off just starting a new site from scratch instead of redirecting the old site to my new domain".

I'm not sure what the answer is as far as Google goes. Yahoo and MSN have recognized the redirect and are still sending me traffic.


8:09 pm on Sep 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Like I said before it appears to me that 301's are a gamble and there is no correct recipe for doing one efficiently but having said that I think that 301's eventually catch-up so I would still do a 301 just to prevent dupe content filters. My domain change was unavoidable so for those that might ask “why would you change your domain name?”, well some of us simply have no other choice. I did a text book redirect and still felt the pinch so for anyone thinking about 301 redirecting a domain name you better be darn sure you really have too because you could end up oblivion grasping at silly BL updates waiting for a miracle to happen.


3:08 pm on Sep 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I guess it depends who you build your website for.

If it is for humane visitors they will benefit from a 310 redirect in that they wil 'land' on the proper (new) URL.

If it is for search engines it may be a different game altogether.

I am in the same situation, I just transferred a part of my old website to a new domain and made a 301 to the new domain.

I always showed up in the first 5 results of a Google SERP for the terms I was targetting for, now I am down to position 60. So what? People who have bookmarked my site still can find me. If they use MSN of Yahoo search engines they can find me. So *beep* Google ;-)


3:59 pm on Sep 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

That's fine hermanp, but I'd like to think that I also built my site for people who use Google and have not yet found or bookmarked my site.


5:07 pm on Sep 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Yes, I have build my site so that it scores high in Google searches too. However, Google seems to have their own rules these days which nobody understands but Google.
My point is that if you don't know the rules of the game you'd better forget about playing it. Just do the best you can, build your site for human visitors with lots of good content. Rely on the other search engines and forget about Google.
I also expect that, as soon as people discover that other search engines do deliver results that Google does not, they will use alternative engines more and more. That may be a welcome change given the current dominant position of Google.....


2:33 am on Sep 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Many thanks for your input. I am really very confused now. Combine with your practical experience, I think my new domain has been filtered into G sandbox because of duplicate content. But I have updated the content and meta, and resubmit to Google two weeks ago. But the new domain have not indexed yet;( If this comes true, how long it will back into sandbox? What should I do now? Perform the 301 redirection? It would rapidly slide down my old domain ranking, and I am not sure whether the new one will be indexed immediately. :(


3:02 am on Sep 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

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.



8:27 am on Sep 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

As I said a couple of days ago my site appeared to be sandboxed by Google. I just noticed the site is listed #1 again for the relevant search terms. Although Google shows no data yet when I search for link:www.mysite.yy, I am quite happy again. Just for the record, here is what I did.....

I had to move to a new domain and re-write part of the site content. Some pages had to be deleted, some to be changed, a lot could survive with unchanged content but perhaps a new URL because the directory structure could not be maintained entirely.

First of all I loaded the site to the new domain. Tested everything, especially internal links and the error trap '404-page not found' as that was needed to tell visitors and spiders that some pages did not exist anymore. On the IIS-based system my new ISP uses that 404 failed initially when a custom error page was installed, but that was fixed in a day or two. So you'd better test the server headers as wel.......

When things tested OK on the new domain I removed everything from the old domain and installed a redirect 301. From that moment on visitors and spiders would land on the new site and either find the information they want or be confronted with a customised 404 page explaining things and offering some help. That point was reached in the last week of August.

Only then I then submitted the old AND new domain to search engines, hoping to 'push' them to notice to the changes.
Immidiately following that I wrote the directories (DMOZ and some local ones) about the change, asking them to remove and/or change their links.

My old site used to show up in the first 5 results of most search engines for the search terms I am interested in.
MSN, FAST, Altavista and Yahoo! showed the new site within a couple of days, ranking as I expected, Google moved the new site to position 60 or so. I assumed that was the sandbox effect.

On September 2 DMOZ changed the links in their directory. Yesterday I noticed that Google used the updated DMOZ directory, this morning I found my site on #1 in Google again.

On a daily basis I now analyze the traffic, just to detect which referring URLs result in a 404. If that is a link on website somewhere I mail the owner and tell him what happened. That should result in less 404s after some time.

Hope this helps somebody out there in decision making ;-)



9:26 am on Sep 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi, hermanp

Thanks for your input. But which is the best way to do the 301 domain redirection, IIS setting or Javascript? Can you guide me how can I? Thanks again.


9:39 am on Sep 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I don't know anything about scripting, be it Java or other flavors ;-)
I used just a .htaccess with a single line saying

redirect 301 / [newdomain.xyz...]


12:28 pm on Sep 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I've had a similar experience having implemented a 301 at the beginning of August. Within a week the old domain was well down the rankings and Google has yet to even acknowledge the new domain even though Googlebot has given it several good crawls.

I'd like to join those calling for Google to be a bit more open about the best way to move domain names. Thousand of sites must have to do this every year for completely legitimate reasons. I'm sure that most businesses would even pay a small fee to have Google do the switch for them. Google could then afford to employ humans to check whether the switch was legitimate.


3:07 pm on Sep 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have 2 sites SiteA.com and Site-B.com. The only files on SiteA where an index page (very similar to the index page of Site-B.com and a directory with hand edited links) I also had some subdirectories such as Widget.SiteA.com which resolved (via host headers) to Site-B.com/widgetfiles. SiteA was recently completely banned by Google, nowhere to be found. Site-B has a pr6.
Because of Katrina, I have had to change hosting providers. Since I have external partner sites that link to the current subdomain file names I must either recreate duplicate content files in the subdomains or redirect or forward to the existing files in Site-B.
Which is the best way of accomplishing this without getting Site-B banned or headed to the sandbox?

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