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Backlinks to a redirected domain - what is impact on SEO?

If a domain is redirected, do backlinks to that domain help SEO on other?

12:39 am on Sep 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Obviously, this question will confirm -- we're not SEO pros. Forgive us if this is an idiotic question:

The domain name we use in the public promotion of our community marketing program will soon be redirected to a more keyword friendly domain name that better describes the project focus. This is the domain people know us for and would naturally back link to.

Once we've made the switch, all content would be posted only on the keyword-friendly domain. No content would reside on the publicly promoted domain.

What, if any, is the SEO impact on the keyword-friendly domain for any back links we get to the publicly promoted domain name once it's been redirected?

7:10 pm on Sept 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Hello chloeann, and welcome to the forums.

If the redirect uses a 301 status in the http header that the server sends, then backlink value does flow through - most of the time and for most of the backlink power (but not all).

There are many pitfalls in changing an established domain to a new domain name - some traffic loss is very likely and if you get things wrong technically, it can be an extended disaster for search engine traffic.

Three years ago I wrote this response to a similar question - where the new domain would not use the same URL pattern as the previous domain. If the url pattern is the same, then a page-by-page 301 redirect rule is easier to write.

Yes, I have helped sites move to a brand new domain. Minimum of 6 months lost traffic, often more depending on the strength of the legacy site.

My best advice -- first, put up a small selection of urls on the new domain and establish a single Webmaster Tools account that authenticates you as the responsible party for BOTH domains.

Next, build a game plan for your 301 redirects. Do not 301 the entire old domain to the home page of the new domain. But also, do not use a separate 301 for thousands of urls to thousands of other urls. Use a 301 for the most critical relocated urls (nice Google traffic and/or nice backlinks). The rest of "lower importance" the URLs can serve a custom "we have moved" message with a true 404 http status code.

Some people prefer using 301 for all pages. My experience is that Google takes a long time to sort all those 301s, and my more "surgical" approach has worked out a bit better. However, it is still not a fast process in any case.

One other step - work with your backlinks. Contact major backlink owners and request a change - many will be glad to oblige because it makes their site look better. Make it easy for them in your message. Tell them what url on their site has the backlink, and give them the new address.

Take it one step further. You want to establish NEW backlinks as soon as possible, so let a lot of people know about your new site, in a way that encourages new links.

These steps can also help for moving between two established domains - and that situation can often be resolved a good bit faster with Google. Moving to a new domain has usually been a dreadful experience.

One last comment - be sure that the new domain really is "new" and not a domain with a dark past.


In the three years since I wrote that, Google has established a Change of Address form in their Webmaster Tools, and using that can help a lot. However, I don't think any other major search engine offers that kind of service so far.

My advice to you would be to get someone working with you for this project who does know some SEO. There are too many ways you can go wrong.
11:17 pm on Sept 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Oh, Tedster!

Thank you so much for the thoughtful and informative reply ... and for not making us feel like complete idiots. I have passed your insights along to the powers that be and will recommend they consult someone with some chops in this arena. Thank you again.

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