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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.


9:10 am on Sep 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We had the same thing quite a few months ago, with duplicate listings for the home page. both www.site.com.au and site.com.au/ were both there, and as soon as this started to happen traffic dropped off.
We had our hosting company make default.asp the default page for the domain, and put code in default.asp to 301 redirect to [site.com.au...]

That worked, after a few weeks the listings merged and the traffic came back.

We have just had our hosting upgraded by our hosting company which involved moving our site to another server (and IP). They forgot to set the default priority on default.asp, and Google was doing a crawl just at the time of the changeover (it's also co-incided with the wierd update thing that's going on at the moment). I now have both duplicate listings back, and traffic has dropped again. I have written to Google advising them of the update to our site, and the 301 is back up again. They have just done a 2 day long crawl of our site again, but no traffic back as yet, too early to tell though.


2:12 pm on Sep 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

On a similar note, why does Google see
www.mysite.com and www.mysite.com/ differently?

One shows..."more results from" and the other with the
trailing / does not. Could this be a possible reason
our site's main page is not being indexed now in G?
When we type www.mysite.com into the address window in
our browser it always forwards to www.mysite.com/.
Now I'm wondering if this htaccess file I edited to
restrict non www pages and dynamic pages is causing my index page to be dropped from G.

This just gets more and more confusing each day.

any ideas why just our main page, index.htm is missing
from the Serps?



6:47 pm on Sep 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

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

Beware of a 301 redirect from non-www to www where the defaultsitename is domain.com and where you are linking to a folder, and where you forget to add the trailing / to the URL in the link.

If you forget the trailing / then your link to www.domain.com/folder will first be redirected to domain.com/folder/ {without www!} before arriving at the required www.domain.com/folder/ page.

The intermediate step, at domain.com/folder/ will kill your listings. Lucklily, this effect is very easy to see if you use Xenu LinkSleuth to check your site: it shows up as reporting double the number of pages (when you generate the sitemap) that you actually have, with half of the pages having a title of "301 Moved".


5:14 am on Sep 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Chris, best advice, stay away from 301's in any way shape or form, 404 the old pages,

I don't think I agree with this at all modemmike. I know of one case where the 301s worked perfectly for a site when they did a massive restructuring. The 301s carried their PR forward as Google had implied it would.

I agree with you and others that 301s *sometimes* cause problems or are not handled properly by search engines, but I think they are still the best way to go based on comments by many posters and search engineers from Google, Yahoo, and ASK at the WebmasterWorld conference.


1:48 pm on Sep 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I don't think I agree with this at all modemmike.

I have also heard some say they work perfectly as well, so I would agree then that it's a gamble, luck of the draw.


2:26 pm on Sep 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

If 301 is a gamble, it paid off for me, or at least I broke even.

I never had internal links to non-www, but a few incoming links were like that.
I went ahead and did a 301 redirect in my .htaccess file, after some
very helpful advice from people on these forums.

If anything, my SERPs positions improved after that, but its impossible to tell
if that was due to other causes or not. -Larry


2:40 pm on Sep 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member zeus is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

this 301 dont work for former hijacked sites or site hit by the googlebug 302


3:59 am on Sep 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Interesting Zeus -

Our experiences are consistent with the idea that 301s don't help after 302 problems - we are still in the Google dump after many months of 301s.

However, I trust the Google engineers talking at WebmasterWorld and SES who made it VERY clear that 301s are the way to go to avoid canonical confusion, 302 problems, and redirection problems.


7:42 pm on Sep 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I did a 301 from an old domain to a new one in early June, and still no sign of link credit or PR following.

The old domain was PR 5, this new one is PR 0 still.

I haven't bothered to get many links to point to the new URL.


7:46 pm on Sep 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I did my 301 around the same time and also have not regained PR, oddly however I'm showing a great PR in the directory... check the Google directory to see if you have PR there. Most of my BL's have been credited as well, I have high hopes for the next update.


2:20 am on Sep 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

One site that I 301ed from .com to .com.au 4 months ago, is now starting to recover on google. Former rnakings not achieved, but rankings are on the improve, and on a daily basis at the moment.

I have not gathered more incoming links to the .com.au, and few existing link partners have bothered to change their link to the new domain.

I must assume, that though the sandbox was applied to the new domain, that google is now filtering in over time, links from the old site to the new.


2:18 pm on Sep 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Former rnakings not achieved, but rankings are on the improve, and on a daily basis at the moment.

How so, I mean what are your indications that rankings are on the move? Just wondering if you have been released from the sandbox or if you are in a low demand sector... how many results are returned when you find your listing?


2:36 pm on Sep 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member zeus is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

joeduck - As said I did a 302 redirecting from a former hijacked and googlebug 302, for about 4-5 month ago still nothing, then I did the same with another site which did not have those problems, it took 3-4 weeks and the redirection was on place i the serps.

Not enogh that those former hijacked/302 links, sites had no influence on what happen to the sites, but that its alos not possible to just make a simple 301 and google still cant fix the problem.

Also notice how much writing there has been lately (1 years time) about 301, 302, hijacking, omitted results, supplemental resuls, bla bla, thats not just bulltalk, here are many experience webmasters here and trust me this must be a HUGE problem for google or they would have fixed it or if they fix it somethng els will be messed up.


5:35 pm on Sep 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Like nippi I did a 301 to a new domain about four months ago. I'm just now starting to notice G rankings for some of the more obscure terms that I monitor (and a few referrals from some other obscure terms that I don't monitor).

I'm cautiously optimistic at this point.


5:55 pm on Sep 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

more obscure terms that I monitor

Are these terms on new pages by chance?


6:51 pm on Sep 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Sinse I've been banned from google, I am seeing alot of strange referals from some shady spam sites like


There are hundreds of different sites!

When I visit these sites there is nothing about my site or url anywhere on the page or in the source code?

Why would I be getting referrals from these websites in my stats? Are they cloaking google and using my pages somehow?

Sticky me if you want to see the real urls. I can't figure this one out?

Amazingly enough, I checked and all these sites are indexed by google yet my site is banned? Most of the websites have the exact same content and design. The only difference is the domain name.


7:16 pm on Sep 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

ModemMike - a few of them are new, but most of them are pointing to old content that has been online for years.

Just ran another check on some phrases I track related to blogs posts (my site has a blog and an RSS feed). Those phrases are now starting to appear in Google SERPs as well. This makes me wonder if the new blog search isn't somehow helping to pull my site out of the sandbox.


7:43 pm on Sep 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I also added an RSS feed with links to the various blog readers, inlcuded those links on all pages (might not be good idea but who knows)... nice little icon for each portal/blog reader that automagically delivers the rss feed url to the reader. I also theorized that Google, Yahoo and MSN pay attention to what RSS feeds users add... Yahoo actually shows a user/read count in it's YahooFeedSeeker browser agent string but thats for another thread.


12:40 am on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


2 million Pages in google search criteria. No.1 ranked site is a pr6 with 150 incoming links.(Prior to this my site was pr5 with 110 incoming links, but was set up better than the No. site for seo)

I have software that I run daily that checks position on all search engines, data centres of google for particular keywords. Jumped 200 places at the start of the week, and another 20 places over the enxt week.

Not amazing results, from 400+ to 175 but a definite improvement.


12:41 am on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

150 links on google that is.... probably 6 times that on Yahoo

Sweet Cognac

2:37 am on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Okay, here's an update on our situation. At 7:54 am on Sept 21, 2005 I posted this.

errorsamac, we just did exactly what you're speaking of to a php site 2 days ago. (We made the inside pages url friendly)The index page stayed the same.

So now all 160 of the internal pages 404. A scary situation, but we figured better to do it now than later. So our stats were mainly 404's yesterday, yet the visitors click thru the custom 404 anyway. So we didn't lose visitors.

It should be interesting how G responds to this. Last year in November we did a script change that changed all the inside URL's and we lost all the inside PR, but G picked up on it within 2 weeks. So we are curious as how big G will handle it this year. I'll let you know.

So, this evening the new URL's are starting to appear in the Google serps, with a cache date of Sept 25, and the 404's are few in our stats, mostly from Yahoo and MSN. So it only took 5 days, from the 19th to the 26th for G to find our new URLS. The site has a PR 4. We feel like the new urls have been included in one database so far, and will be fed into the other databases.

We didn't use any 301's or redirects.


3:41 am on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

[quote]We didn't use any 301's or redirects.[quote]

Wow, what an expirement! Congrads on a smooth transtition and please keep me posted... long term on this will indeed be interesting to follow.


8:47 am on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Here's an update from me on my 301 redirect of all non-www to www.

Redirect done 4 days back.

All non-www cached pages turn URL only today, incuding the homepage.

No noticeable changes in rankings - but a fw obscure phrases have started appearing in logs from one datacenter.

Will keep you posted.

Sweet Cognac

11:51 am on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Update - Use of 404 instead of redirects for internal pages.

This morning, our stats from G show ALL NEW URLS! No 404's or old url pages. We also saw in the stats last night that Yahoo found some new urls.

So, anyone wanting to make their inside urls search engine friendly, but not change your domain or index page, it is safe to do so. Just make a custom 404 that redirects to the homepage, make sure all your internal links are correct, and let the old url pages 404.

The new URLS passed to all the Google databases in 6 days, including the international databases. Cool

One interesting thing to note, is that in the transition from Google dropping the old urls to adding the new. In our stats was the new url, but when you clicked on it, the page found by the searcher was the 404 page. In otherwords, all the old urls got wiped out and every page was found with the 404. Google had spidered the 404 and was serving that page only for 1 day for all urls.

It looked kind of freaky, and we were wondering if Google would straighten it out, and today all the urls are fine and the transition went smooth.

So now... we wait on the next PR update.


12:12 pm on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member zeus is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Sweet Cognac - just currious how did you redirect

Sweet Cognac

12:16 pm on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We did not use any redirects we just let the old urls 404.

Our experience with 301's have been this:

nonwww to www - were successful

internal folder to a new subdomain - were successful

subdomain to a new domain = sandbox

We don't have experience redirecting an old domain to a new domain, sorry

[edited by: Sweet_Cognac at 12:24 pm (utc) on Sep. 27, 2005]


12:22 pm on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member zeus is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

ok, I was just wondering, I dont have this problem, but we all have learn a little.


3:20 pm on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Very related to all this - we are in the process of creating a completely new website, but are still using the same domain.

How would you guys suggest we deal with redirecting the old listings we've got in the search engines?

At first i was thinking redirects, but now I think it would be better to just let Google recrawl and reindex the new pages, and place a custom 404 for all the old pages.

Any thoughts?


4:01 pm on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I redesigned a website that had been online for 10 months with 0 pr which I attributed to having been written in .asp script with session IDs and a lot of other technical problems. I changed all file names over to .html and at the same time increased the keywords in the file name where appropriate.

The site went online 4 weeks ago at which time I set up a 301 redirect for all old asp to html pages and non-www to www. After two weeks all new .html pages are listed in site command with new description and title and all old pages with .asp have supplemental results--this is the same after 4 weeks. The home page went up to PR 1 but all others still PR 0 and I don't expect this to change till next PR update.

The keyword ranking is on 1st page of results for any keyword phrases involving business name and city but not for any other keywords but this may be due to the site still less than 1 year old, i.e., sandbox. At least Google got the 301 redirects correct.


5:58 pm on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I stopped using custom 404s about a year ago after the Sept 23rd update / disaster. Prior to that, I had used a custom 404 that redirected to my index page, then a year ago google decided to show the URL of the deleted page, but with the contents of the index page!

I took the custom 404 out of my .htaccess, but things have been very bumpy with that site (for whatever reasons) for a year now.

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