Today I had to help someone redirect an old site to a new site with new domain name. It is possible to keep the search engine history and rankings of the old pages and transfer them to the new site.
We’ll use www.oldsite.com as the one that needs to be closed and www.newsite.com as the new website (or the existing one that needs to be merged with the old one).
OK, here we go:
- Step 1:
Create a list of ALL pages on www.oldsite.com, not just the ones indexed by Google. Without any doubt there are inbound links to non-indexed pages, and we don’t want to lose their value or the visitors entering the website through such an inbound link.
- Step 2:
Find a corresponding page on www.newsite.com for every page in the list from step 1. The corresponding page needs to have the same principle main content or subject. If you don’t find corresponding content on the new site for an old page, you should redirect it to the homepage of www.newsite.com.
- Step 3:
Write a 301 (permanent redirect) for all pages and activate them on the www.newsite.com server.
e.g. Redirect www.oldsite.com/page1.html to www.newsite.com/page44.html with a 301 status code.
- Step 4:
Point the old domain name www.oldsite.com (both the www and the non-www version) to the IP address of www.newsite.com and make sure the server with the new site accepts the old domain name (points to www.newsite.com). It takes up to 24 hours before all name servers worldwide have adjusted the IP. During those 24 hours some visitors will be sent to the new site, some to the old site, depending on the name server they connect to.
After those 24 hours you could close the old site, but we recommend keeping it in the air for at least a few days more. Normally the old site won’t get any visitors anymore, but in case something goes wrong, you can still turn back the clock. So to be sure, keep it on the old server at least for a few days until you’re absolutely sure everything went right.
- Step 5:
The old pages (from www.oldsite.com) will now point to the new server with www.newsite.com. The redirects make sure the visitor’s browser automatically redirects the visitor to the new corresponding page. So in your browser you should see the old URL being replaced with the new corresponding URL.
That’s about it. Google drops by a few times every day/week and the Googlebot will also be redirected to www.newsite.com. Because you used a permanent redirect (301), the search engines know the old site has been permanently replaced with the new one and the history and value of the old pages will be transferred to the new pages. The number of indexed old pages will gradually drop until there are no pages left of the old site in the Google index.
Because we created a list of ALL pages on the old site and redirected them to new pages, visitors who follow old links or who have bookmarked old pages will also be redirected to the new corresponding pages.
Good for the search engines, good for the visitors, everybody happy…