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301 domain change and duplicate content

Both old and new domains listed in SERPS

     
9:11 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

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About 2 weeks ago I changed domain, and redirected the old domain to the new one with a 301. I'm now finding that searches for our company name bring up both the old and the new domain on the first page of results.

A quick site: search shows that my other pages are listed only once, under EITHER the old or new domain, but the homepage is listed under both.

Is it normal for Google to have both pages listed after a 301? The content on the homepage is always changing so the new page is listed with a different description from the old one, but is there still a risk of a duplicate content penalty here?

4:41 pm on July 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

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No, this is not the normal state, and I would expect the old domain to vanish relatively soon.
5:20 pm on July 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Maybe your 301 redirect is not correct? Test it with online tools that analyze the page headers.

You're fortunate, many people (me too), experienced the ban of both domains. So be careful, we haven't solved yet the problem of how to change domain without being penalized by Google (all the other SE works correcly).

See that thread:
[webmasterworld.com...]

7:33 pm on July 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

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It might also take Google a while to absorb all the 301s. It might be a function of how often it crawls and updates each of your old pages. If any of them are supplemental, you're in for a long wait, it can take them months to re-crawl supplemental pages.

One way to to get an idea of when they crawled your pages last is when you do the site command, or whatever checks you were doing, click on the cache link for each of your pages and see what date Google says it was crawled last.

One other issue you face too, when moving to a new domain name, is you lose your seniority in Google.

As far as Google is concerned, the new example.com site you setup is fresh meat and untested, unknown, with no toher links pointing to it.

It's like your credit score, the longer you have your oldest credit card open, and hence established a long credit history, the higher your credit score will be for a loan, and the lower APR you will get.

If you close out your oldest credit card, there goes your length of credit history, and your credit score drops back down some.

This works the same way with Google. I cannot imagine why anyone would change a domain name that was well indexed before, as you are starting over again.

[edited by: JeffOstroff at 7:39 pm (utc) on July 12, 2006]

3:53 am on July 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I just checked the server responses again and it's definitely returning a 301, then a 200 when it reaches the new domain. So I'm happy it's working properly.

As it happens, the new domain is not completely new - I acquired it when the previous owner let it expire and it dropped from the registry. It already had a few links to it, so I'm not starting from scratch. I'm also hoping that the old domain's ranking will contribute to the new one's if and when G fully works out the 301.

As it turns out the new domain already ranks at no. 1 for some of my main search terms, which the old one never did, so, so far it looks to have been a good decision to move. (I have added content too which probably helps)

7:21 am on July 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Today I searched again and it turns out Google has now sorted it out - the new domain is listed, and the old one has been removed.

It has taken about 2 weeks for G to list all my pages under the new domain. Now only obsolete URLs are listed (as supplemental) in site:old-domain.com

The domain change has been as smooth as I could have hoped (Yahoo had it sorted within a couple of days) and my rank in both Google and Yahoo has improved since the change, so a pretty successful exercise all in all.

2:58 am on July 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I ran into a issue like that, about 3 years ago I ran mutli-sites each with its own domain name, over time it was easier and better for me to just merge them under one flag. Which I did. I simply waited a week then one by one 301 them all to the new domain, all of them but one still shows up, which was my first domain which I've had for over 6 years. I fear google would block my site because of it, but it didn't, and only a few times its mix them up showing the info for my current site but the url for the old one.