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A couple years ago I purchased a domain to house the site that was previously a directory. I tried 301'ing the dir to the new domain, but that lost my ranking immediately, and I wasn't willing to wait the months required to transfer backlinks, so I undid it. I also was worried that since age doesn't transfer, I would never return to my original position.
About a year ago, I just duplicated the content onto the domain. Google soon acknowledged them both as the same site, as link: for both of them returns the same result set. I figured the new domain would be flagged as duplicate content and not be indexed, while the original would stay in its current search position. That is what happened, up until a couple days ago.
The new domain has magically switched places with the old URL in the results. My assumption is that the old URL is now considered a duplicate of the new. That's perfectly fine with me; I couldn't ask for a better outcome. My question is, what happens if I now try to 301 my old URL to the new domain to further consolidate and perhaps combine assets to achieve an even better ranking. Since I don't understand exactly how or why the switch took place, I'm wary of messing with anything. Is the old URL's domain age still influencing the new URL's position? If so, a 301 could be risky.
It does sound like things may be sorting out for you and that the 301 is a practical possibility. I would suggest you wait at least until after Labor Day in the US, when historically there has been some shifting in the Google rankings. The "couple of days" ranking you are seeing now may or may not be stable. But if it's still there next week, it sounds like a 301 could be worth another try.
Recently there have been reports here of a less challenging switch-over period. You may be in a good position to try out the "change of address" form in Webmaster Tools to speed up the transfer of ranking factors.
I'd been waiting for that move to new URL feature in webmaster tools for some time, but it only allows moving one entire domain to another. I'm interested in forwarding a directory to a new domain. I don't imagine that's coming soon, though it seems like something that would happen often enough to be worthy of implementation.
Thanks for the advice. I'll wait until aftor Labor Day and see if things are stable, then give it a go. It'll be nice to finally consolidate, especially for purposes of showing off in Quantcast and Alexa. I'm curious if it'll help rankings any further, though.