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The 301 Club

301 permanent redirect's & Google



9:08 pm on Sep 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

With so much conjecture about 301 redirects I thought it would be nice to discuss experiences others have had and to also explore possible consequences when using a 301 redirect. Letís try to explore alternative redirects and what might help one make a smooth transition if there is such a thing. I realize that this topic has been discussed already in some detail throughout these forums but maybe this thread can serve as a clearing house of the various ideas, theories and myths related to 301 redirects. Iím not speaking of the www vs. non-www redirects but, rather a whole domain redirect for the purposes of rebranding, avoiding copyright issues or any other practical reasons for changing a domain name.

Here is my experience with a recent 301 redirect:

--Popular travel niche website approx 4 years old.
--Actively covering all topics related to my niche but we also sell entire vacationsÖ think of this site as being a vortal covering everything and anything dealing with this niche including up-to-date news, weather, unique articles, forums, interactive tools for planning a vacation and a bunch more all of which are free.
--Very little link trading with the bulk of links coming in naturally
--Very little outbound linking
--Clean HTML (for the most part)
--Some JavaScript but nothing black hat or meant for SEO
--Listed in DMOZ, Yahoo Directory, Zeal and Google Directory
--Was a PR 4 with about 50 inbound links
--Index count was 6,080
--Was in the top 10 results pretty solid even through Bourbon and other various updates

The 301 bomb (website suicide), applied a domain wide 301 redirect via IIS to a domain that is 18 months old. E.G. olddomain.com/widgets --> newdomain.com/widgets
I have seen some people post ďwhy would you do this?Ē Ö this isnít a valid question in my opinion because there are lots of very good reasons to do so.

--301 was put in place roughly 80 days ago
--After approx 5 days the site was nowhere to be found in the SERPís
--Sent a request to help@ and was told the site was not banned or penalized
--Started the long waiting process
--Quasay non existent update Gilligan started
--Old domain was stripped of PR across all DCís
--New domain still has no PR on any DCís
--BLís update to 138 on most DCís
--Google Directory updated showing the new domain as a PR 6 and at the top of my niche
--site:oldsite.com would reveal the new domain
--index count is fluxing between 10,300 and 10,900
--PR begins to return to the old domain!
--alas, no where in the SERPís even after going 50 pages deep.

Sounds like classic sandbox in my opinion but I think a better name would be ďGilliganís IslandĒ because most of us in 301 club feel stranded on a deserted island with no hope of rescue but occasionally there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon.

I also want to point out that until you have been through an experience like this itís not helping anyone to call people in this situation whiners, or something inflammatory because we are simply trying to figure out how to make a some what smooth transition and to avoid the sandbox.

Well, if you are still reading you are probably in this position now but if you are thinking about doing a 301 redirect, do so understanding that you will loss rank for at least several weeks.

Here some alternatives that have been discussed

1)Meta refresh to new domain Ė bad, could get a dupe content filter
2)JavaScript redirect Ė bad, looks too black hat or spammy
3)302 redirect Ė is not permanent and is also very spammy looking
4)404 all old pages Ė donít know how this would work
5)Build a new site which simply wasnít an option for me because I have a lot of unique content that would take weeks to regenerate without having any duplication

Another way to look at this was put best by jd01

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.

I have searched high and wide looking for success stories and only found a few where as horror stories are the norm.

Being that GoogleGuy is the closest thing we have to a direct contact (for most of us anyway) I would greatly appreciate his feedback.


11:52 am on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

>>>>canonical page fix

What canonical page fix?

302 hijack maybe fixed (well less obvious to see) but canonical page problems are rampant.


11:58 am on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

One way to tell when an update is due is when webmasters begin accusing Google of being unwilling or unable to fix a problem.

Beg to differ. One way of knowing when Google is unable or unwilling to fix the problem is when the problem is not being fixed.


12:21 pm on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

LOL nice one oddsod....


3:23 pm on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Google's advice is to use a 301, see:


As this was the official advice I did a 301 at the start of August. After that it was the familiar story of being dropped after 5 days.

I'd love to hear from GoogleGuy about this problem. It appears to be affecting a lot of legitimate websites. Modemmike's idea of a paid review service may be a way that Google could deal with the problem. Maybe if the mods put this thread on the Webmasterworld home page it might get the attention from the people at Google that it deserves.


9:12 pm on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Wow, my indexed page count went from 10,000 to 971. 971 is alot more accurate but makes me wonder. I sure wish I knew if your domain stats needed to stablilize (link recalculation) before you get back into the SERP's.

BTW, if Google does read these forums then they surely saw this thread but I suspect there is too much room for manipulation via 301's so nothing will ever be done. My gripe is why they don't say so in the guidelines... you know, a simple, "changing a website domain name will be treated as if the website is entirely new", (only more wordy).

One way of knowing when Google is unable or unwilling to fix the problem is when the problem is not being fixed.

My thoughts exactly! Hey, Google, want a couple of sites to look at directly?


2:59 am on Sep 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

967 pages and falling... maybe Google is just removing my domain altogether now not that it would matter much.


8:23 am on Sep 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thanks Reseller - good find.

My follow up comment is already there too :)


10:23 am on Sep 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Are sandboxed sites let out on a mass level or are sites only let out during an update?


12:33 am on Sep 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Any speculation on what might happen if I turn off my 301 redirect to a new domain? Or even a portion of my 301 redirect to the new domain (say, a half dozen pages or so)?

Will my rank for those pages eventually return to the former ranking on the original domain, or does the 301 permanently connect the old URI to the new URI?


1:00 am on Sep 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I suspect the damage is done Planet, undoing the 301 will only cause more longer term problems. I have also considered this and did a lot research into it... everything I have read is that the 301 redirect is perm for at least 6 months (maybe longer). I really really wish I had not done a 301 but rather left both sites running while I built rank to the new name and aged it in the index.

I initially denied the sandbox theory as being a factor here but that was because I was in the denial stages of my grief... I now just want to know what causes sites to be released from the litter box... is it after an update, or during a mass exodus or what?

GoogleGuy, can you offer any insight into this topic?


2:06 pm on Sep 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

My indexed count is way up again, 9740 ... this is turning into more of journal than a topic :-) but maybe someone could give some insight into why the index count "fluxing" so wildly.


6:26 pm on Sep 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Since the Bourbon update we are having problems in our Google rankings and the actual listings in the SERPs on a very large site that has been listed in Google since at least 2001.

We have had to move servers many times in the past few years and each time had to redirect with the server number in the URL. Our actual domain name has never changed.

To make things even worse, we are required by the server admin to use 302 redirects (301s are not allowed) from the old servers to the new ones.

Here is a short history:

1st URL: [site.com...]
2nd URL: [www-123.site.com...]
3rd URL: [www-456.site.com...]

We are now listed in google for [site.com,...] [site.com,...] [www-123.site.com,...] [www-456.site.com,...] etc.

This was not a big problem until Bourbon. Now all our results in Google are a mess and our traffic from Google has taken a nose-dive. We are at a loss as to what to do.

And that is with a 302 redirect. Now I am not even sure if a 301 would help us.

And from what I am reading here -- we can't even ask Google to remove any of the old URLs with server numbers because it is all the same domain. And we don't want to remove the entire site.

Sorry to go on and on in my first post. I am a good whitehat SEOer and I have been doing this for many years. This is my first seemingly unfixable problem in Google.


6:32 pm on Sep 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>> whitehat SEOer
Always priceless :)

Welcome to WW, LJCoolB. There are a lot of posts here on 302 problems. Suggestion: Change your "server admin". I used to get nonsense like that from hosting companies running Windows/IIS. I don't take it anymore. Now it's gimme my 301s or I go elsewhere.


8:04 pm on Sep 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

My last host said that 301's were not possible with IIS to which I replied, you guys really don't have a clue... I have run many servers for large outfits and decided I was done playing games with cheap hosts and got a dedicated server which has been a wise investment time and time again... at $70 a month you can't hardly go wrong. I agree, replace your admin, being a good admin takes a lot more than just server uptime. Running your own server will open up doors in so many ways, something to consider (custom com objects, redirects, scalability etc).


8:06 pm on Sep 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

BTW, anyone else seeing indexed counts all over the place again? Flux? Recalculation?


3:46 am on Sep 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Im out,
i Setup a 301 redirect over one month ago,
google has already taken the old site down and now the site i redirected to is open for business, im enjoying much more traffic!

Sweeet, im happy!


4:12 am on Sep 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

One month and already out of the sandbox... congrads, just wish I knew where I went wrong.


5:36 am on Sep 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think its luck,
Honestly where my keyword position is in the Serps I am wondering if google knows what it is doing!
I mean honestly my site has about 5x the relevant content 1-2 more pr than the rest of the sites at #1 and im not using dodgie seo tricks,
But yet im still #50 odd.....


2:52 pm on Sep 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

This thread has been very helpful.

The company I work for owns the servers. So we can't move to other servers -- because it is our company Web site. We are currently fighting to get these 301s in place of the 302s. I am just hoping that if we do succeed with the 301 battle, that we will see the results -- that is, our Google results will be fixed to the correct URLs and our clickthrus from Google will increase (or return to close to where they were before Bourbon).


3:16 pm on Sep 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

LJCoolB, stickymail me your URL so I can see what sort of server you are on, maybe I can suggest an easy 301 fix.


11:37 pm on Sep 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It is a not a server issue per se, but corporate policy. We once had 301s, and then corporate policy changed and we were only allowed 302s.

It is a very sad story, especially as I understand now that only 301s can help us dig out of this Google hole we are in.


3:41 am on Sep 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

We once had 301s, and then corporate policy changed and we were only allowed 302s.

Talk about inane bureaucracy...

You just said "We used to be able to define our redirects (according to HTTP Protocol 302 is undefined -- 307 is temporary and 301 is permanent), but now we can't, because our company made a decision."

Glad I can refuse to work for anyone that stupid...

Good luck.



5:32 am on Sep 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I can't fathom how anyone would develop a corporate policy dictating only 302 redirects. Can you imagine what those meetings must have been like?

The truth is, most people in a position to make a decision don't know or care about the technical details. I'm guessing some slacker in your tech department couldn't be bothered to work out the details on an issue that could have a signifcant imact on your business.


7:03 am on Sep 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I have a cool one here too.

Recently remembered about one of the domain names that I registered last October. 1 Page Website(was and is now.) Has, one large graphic and about 150 words of text and a keyword reach link to it self on the bottom of the page (A domain name with spaces between words). Page got pr2 after Bourbon Update and Ranked at 46 for the phrase. 3 weeks ago put a clean 301 from none-www to www. and put a date stamp on the bottom of the page.

Here is the thing.

Type domainname.tld or www.domainname.tld in search box. Result is the same as it should be(cached version returns 2 days ago cached copy).

Type the keyword phrase site (tanked 203 points to 249) - cached version is from before I did a redirect (has no date stamp on it). "Site:" command has the old version as well.

I donít believe that putting a date stamp on the page could do such damage...


12:52 pm on Sep 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

There is definately a 301 bug. I 301'd all of my websites I built from non www to www and they are all gone from google.

that is 14 websites gone. You definately don't want to 301 your sites right now.


12:54 pm on Sep 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

eyezshine, being that you only did the non www I think your fall from grace will only be temporary but please keep us updated.


1:07 pm on Sep 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Well, one of those sites was #1 for it's keyword for 4 years and I once was in the $10,000 club for adsense.

It's been about 6 months now sinse the websites all tanked.

It had to be the 301 redirect because all of the websites were different content and built differently but they were also similar in their html. They all had H1 tags for the header etc...

But the 301 was the only thing I did to all of the sites at the same time. Then a month later they were all gone. Completely gone.

Your search - site:www.mydomain.com - did not match any documents.

That's what I get.


1:30 pm on Sep 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

For a site redirected from www to non-www back in March, the 301 has worked in so far as getting all of the non-www pages indexed with full title and description. The non-www pages have a cache from a few weeks ago, and updated every month or so.

The down side is that Google is now re-showing (as of a few weeks ago) loads of www pages, and all of them with a cache from a year ago, instead of hiding the www pages away as asked (by the 301 redirect).


2:35 pm on Sep 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Interesting, I created a new page on 9/17 for a new feature on my site... I only linked to it from my forums, one link, not on the menu or any place else... today the page is position 30! So it appears new pages are not being sandboxed, I repeat, new pages are being filtered! So now what, go and make a bunch of doorway pages to beat the sandbox LOL, no, that would only land me in blackhat world.


3:49 pm on Sep 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have a theory. If you put a 301 redirect from the frist day your site is launched you should not have any problems.

I think the problems arise when time has passed after the launch of a site and then a 301 is put in place. After a site is launched, Google likley has pages of both www and non-www (because of different ways links point to a site regardless of how you link internally within your site). If Google has both www and non-www pages at some point in time, and a 301 is put in place, it seems like Google just can resolve that properly.

Just a theory not based on much beyond speculation. Any thoughts, any evidence to support or disprove this?

This 246 message thread spans 9 pages: 246

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