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Google Rank Issue - Must Move to New Domain



4:15 pm on Dec 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hello Everyone:

I need help! I have a site that ranks on the first page for all the keywords I was going after, but I recently received a Cease letter because I have a trademarked name in my domain name. I didn't know this was wrong.

Now I am scrambling to make a new website, utilizing the same content from the old website with the same url names.

I plan on doing a 301 redirect from the old domain url, to the new domain url.

Then I'll go back to all the places that have a link to the old website domain and change them to the new website domain.

Is what I am planning to do the correct course of action?
Is Google going to recognize that the old domain is now moving to the new domain and thus transfer the page rank as well as keep intact the search engine position?
If not, what would cause Google to lower the rankings?
What could be done to improve on my strategy?

I could really use some help because the more I read on this subject, the more I get confused.

Thanks in advance.


5:18 pm on Dec 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

301 redirects are the right approach - and endorsed by Google too.
And then manually moving all the links to the new site is also the correct next step. But also try to get many new (direct) links to your new site...

However, don't expect your pagerank to be transferred immediately - this will take some time, maybe 2-4 months...

Good luck!



1:11 am on Dec 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

If you want to keep your site structure exactly the same (all URLs for the new domain identical to old URLs except for domain name) and you have access to Mod_Rewrite on Apache or ISAPI Rewrite under MS IIS, you may be able to redirect all of your old URLs to the corresponding new URL with basically one rewrite rule similar to the following in your httpd.conf file:

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} olddomain.com [NC]
RewriteCond (.*) http://www.newdomain.com/$1 [R=301,L]

If you don't have access to Apache Mod_Rewrite or ISAPI Rewrite, get it. ISAPI Rewrite for Microsoft's IIS is only like $99/server. We got it for something like $49 or $59 per server because we purchased about 30 copies for our farm. Best investment ever. Not sure about Mod_Rewrite for Apache since I haven't worked on Unix in about 20yrs. I'm guessing it comes already bundled w/ Apache.

[edited by: tedster at 7:38 am (utc) on Dec. 17, 2008]
[edit reason] de-link the example url [/edit]


1:32 am on Dec 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

And one other thing...

Count yourself lucky for not having to hand over the domain name AND it's entire contents and then still get sued and slapped with a judgment to stay off the net. Such things aren't unheard of so don't waste any time vanishing from their radar.


1:37 am on Dec 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

In Apache, you should be using your .htaccess file in the root of your site (applies also for shared hosting):

# Redirect (www.)example.com to www.newexample.com
Options +FollowSymlinks

RewriteEngine on

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^example.com$ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^example.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ [newexample.com...] [R=301,L]

This will take care of both example.com/... AND www.example.com/... incoming links...

Hope this helps.


Robert Charlton

2:35 am on Dec 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

Count yourself lucky for not having to hand over the domain name...

Yes. One thing that's important to understand about 301 redirects is that you need to retain ownership and control of the old domain in order for the redirects to work.

It's not like you can just declare a redirect from oldexample.com to newexample.com and then you're done with it. You need to keep the old domain registered, with its DNS A-records addressing your site's IP.

If you removed the DNS setup for the old domain, then requests for the domain wouldn't be routed to your site, and you'd lose your old linking credits.


2:45 am on Dec 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Good clarification!

You need to keep the old domain registered, and the DNS records pointing to your host, but without any content - only the .htaccess file that holds the code I posted above.

Good Luck!



3:23 am on Dec 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Google is pretty good (fast) about recognizing the redirect, in my experience. You have a good chance of this going smoothly. Good luck.


3:55 pm on Dec 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Thank you everyone for your help. I have Apache, so I'll play with the .htaccess file. I might be too late though. I've just received a letter from an attorney stating that I am in violation of the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act and that I have seven days to respond. I don't want to get in any more trouble than I am already in. So I might just start a new website and forget about the old one and just take a hit for a few months.

I didn't think I was doing anything wrong, to be honest. Let's say that the trademark name is widgets. I thought it was just illegal to buy the website widgets.com. In my situation, I bought a website called widgetsonline.com. I had no clue that this was in violation of the act. Also, I wasn't even using the domain in ill faith. I was promoting/marketing there products, not redirecting to some spam site or something not related. Not sure why they had such a problem with it. I look at it as free advertising for them. But they said I am not an authorized retailer for them.

Very confusing how companies work.

Anyway, thanks to everyone for your quick reply's.


5:10 pm on Dec 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Very confusing how companies work.

Not really, they are just protecting their brand. Its easier to use broad policies (affiliates only, no-one else), than analyse individual sites- especially as they could easily change intent in the future.

Anyway, it is their trademark


5:56 pm on Dec 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

What exactly is the attorney demanding? When you respond in a few days, why not say that you've taken the Web site down and ask if that's satisfactory? In the meantime, do your 301 redirects. If you're lucky, the 301 redirects will at least get your new site crawled by Google before you're forced to surrender ownership of the old domain. (And if you're really lucky, maybe you'll be able to leave the old, now-unused domain in place.)


6:46 pm on Dec 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

*** Now I am scrambling to make a new website ***

Why make a new website?

These are the only steps you need.

1. Buy the new domain name.

2. Point the new domain name at the exact same server where the existing site is hosted.

3. Set up the .htaccess file to redirect requests for the old domain name to point to the new domain name, retaining the same folder and file paths throughout.

Use this version to ensure that all non-canonical names are correctly redirected:

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} [b]![/b]^www\.example\.new\.com[b]$[/b] [NC] 
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.example.new.com/$1 [R=301,L]

OR this one (Important: the conditions below are NOT to be end-anchored):

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^(www\.)[b]?[/b]example\.old\.com [NC]
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.example.new.com/$1 [R=301,L]

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^example\.new\.com [NC]
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.example.new.com/$1 [R=301,L]

4. Change the site logo to reflect the new name.

5. Edit the content pages, contact page, etc, to reflect the new name.

So, no new content, retains the same structure, and cleanly redirects old URLs to the equivalent new URL.

This could be actioned in a day, except that I would leave a clear 48 hours between steps 2 and 3, but you could start editing the content (steps 4 and 5) at any time.

Robert Charlton

7:06 pm on Dec 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

What you want to avoid is discussion about the old domain. Hopefully, they may try it and see that the a site with a different domain name and branding appears in its place... and they'll ask no further questions.


7:41 pm on Dec 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Interesting. A few years ago, all these <pick your favorite store>sucks.com was all the rage. They tried to shut these down with no success.

Actually Walmart with its army of lawyers was unable to shut the suck site down, and eventually bought the site from the original owners.

So I guess if you turn the original site into a parody or customer complaint site, then they have no trademark claim, as it is falls under free speech.

This does not help your business, but if you are just starting up, and had not invested to much at this stage, it may be sweet revenge.

Another option, is to try to negotiate a royaly arragement for using the trademark, which could also be used as a delaying tactic, to get your act together and have the PR and links transfered to the the new domain over the next three to four months.

Sometimes hiring a lawyer, to play the delaying game is worth while.

Just food for thought, and unless this is a hobby business, that you can shutdown tomorrow, always seek profession legal advice.

Oh yeah, while you are at it. You should actually block the IP address of the company and the legal firm representing them.


8:24 pm on Dec 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Again, I appreciate all the replies. I would like to remain on the up and up. Take the high road so to speak. I don't want to get involved in any type of negative campaign against them, I like the product.

I kind of shot myself in the foot because I received a letter from a marketing manager about a month ago asking to resolve the matter, but I delayed in writing back and that is when I received the letter from the law firm asking me to act within 7 days.

Interesting note: I did some searching for the main keyword and went through the first ten pages and found 17 other affiliate sites that are a lot less appealing than mine, not offering any good content or a nice user experience. Something tells me they are not going after those one's because they are not on the first page like I am.

It's also interesting that they said in the letter that they are trying to protect their brand image. I can tell you that they are not trying very hard because most of the affiliate websites I found doing a search have been around for years.

I am thinking out loud here, but if I do what was suggested and have a new website that doesn't include any part of their trademarks in the domain, am I then safe? Could they still go after me for mentioning their products on my website? If they threatened to do so, am I not covered under Amendment 1?

Anyway, I appreciate all the input on this. This is my first run in with a cease letter and it's kind of scary.


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