When changing domains, or URLs, failing to correctly redirect to your new website will instantaneously send you flying into a no-traffic zone, causing new visitors to often be greeted by the Error:404 page (to everyone’s horror). This brings up the question of whether it’s possible to transfer rankings from one domain to a new one, using a ‘301 permanent redirect’ code. The answer is YES! If you properly redirect any visitors to the new domain (including relevant internal pages), make sure you also show your old domains search engine ranks to the new address. Otherwise you’re just going to be beginning from scratch in terms of visibility.
Avoid Google Penalties
Another important issue is the problem of equivalent page content. To avoid getting swamped with penalties from Google and to keep a good ranking, you should avoid redirecting non-valuable, or irrelevant pages to irrelevant redirect destinations. Make sure that any content or information on your old page is also present in the new domain. Also, make sure your keywords are also present on the new site, in conjunction with what content it was connected to before.
Redirecting outdated content to newer material is also a smart and easy thing to do. The same way you might redirect to a new domain, you can 301 multiple outdated pages to a better and more up to date page. Doing this can take possible penalties from outdated material and boost your chances of receiving a higher ranking in Google. However as mentioned above, don’t take an irrelevant page and link it to an irrelevant destination. Make sure that the keywords and content are all relevant, and of a higher caliber than your original content.
But wait… shouldn’t you mention something about your domain change to Google? YES! It’s not that hard to do and shouldn’t take long in Google’s Webmaster Tools using their new “Change of address” tool. Now you might ask if a ‘302 temporary redirect’ could be used in lieu of a 301. Yes it can be, if its left in place. While it isn’t ideal, Google has said that it treats 302’s left in place in essence like it would treat a 301.
Pitfalls to Avoid when Redirecting to a New Domain
- Transferring Penalties – You have the possibility of transferring penalties from an old domain to your new one when redirecting. You do not want to bring any bad backlinks to your primary site, so be diligent and disavow any toxic links you find.
- Being Careless – Google has no contractual obligation to actually redirect any domains you may have and their rankings to wherever you wish them to be redirected. Obtaining a large amount of unnatural/bad/or toxic links in a short period of time could possibly constitute a GWT Notice and eventually a penalty or even a Google Penguin Penalty.
- Redirecting to Irrelevant Content – Make sure that your content and keywords are equivalent when redirecting. Redirecting one page to another that doesn’t even hint at mentioning some relevant to the original page could land you with a heap of penalties.
Riley Graham, Marketing Advisor