How To Execute A 301 Redirect And Get Your Rankings Back In Google
What about the new domain trust factor? How can a new domain possibly earn trust with the search engines and rank in top positions for my major keywords?
We’re going to answer all of those questions in this post, but first, let’s cover the basics.
What Is A 301 Redirect?
A 301 redirect, in basic terms, is a way to tell the search engines that one document on the web, has permanently moved to another document.
In other words, if you have recently changed the name of your company, and created an entirely new website (with a new domain), you might want to tell the search engines “hey, the home page of my site, is actually now over here, on the new site. They are the same, and I don’t want/won’t be using the old site, and all of the trust, power and content is over here on the new site.”
Does 301 Transfer My Ranking?
The real answer is, no, you’re not guaranteed to have your link power and popularity sent over to your new website upon executing a 301 redirect.
I’ve read in many instances, people’s 301′s not really passing too much authority and juice over to their new sites.
But the question then becomes…how do you execute a flawless 301 redirect?
Well, I don’t know that there’s an answer to that question, but recently, for an iPad and iPhone repair company that I run in the Lehigh Valley (PA), we executed a perfect 301 redirect, regained all local search engine traction, and bounced (after 1 week of transient down time) back into position 1 for all of our major keywords.
There were many factors in place before we actually went and redirected old pages to new pages on the new website, and those, I believe, weighed heavily on the outcome of the 301 working flawlessly.
My hope in this post is to give some insight into what those elements were, so that you can both set your site up for redirect success should you ever have to change your brand name, and have a powerful search engine presence and authority as a result either way.
So, the first step…
Never underestimate the power of good links.
The truth is, people still go and build as many links as they can from sub par sources, and that’s a wrong move.
- It will always be the wrong answer to build shotty links.
- It will always be the right answer to put in the time to go out there and create something that is of good quality
- And sooner or later, it’ll be impossible to rank well in the engines with less than good links.
So how did I do it?
I guest posted everywhere. I leveraged a lot of friendships I had created over the years with the titans of the blogosphere and the best part is, it was valuable for everyone.
I was coming with good content, and in exchange, I was awarded powerful links. That’s what it’s all about, and that’s what I think a lot of companies are missing.
- Do companies have personal brands out there making an entrance in the blogosphere?
- Do they have crazy eccentric representatives out there digitally networking and creating cool video content?
Sadly, no. People don’t believe they have to. “It’s all technical” people say. Unfortunately, it isn’t anymore.
It’s all about meaningful connections you make with other human beings. That’s how anything gets done these days.
So, lesson number one in ensuring your 301 redirect goes smashingly is go out there and be a digital butterfly, have a cool guy or girl being a personal brand, talking with people and creating content, and go out there and share your thoughts and yourself (or your selected personal brand person/people) with the blogosphere.
You can build a tremendous amount of trust that way, and get a powerful bunch of meaningful links
Affiliations With VIPs
Definitively, we got a link to the new website from a very established, very authoritative local blogger. That, we believe, helped us tremendously to send signals to the search engines (among other things) that this new site was extremely important.
Our keywords were nestled tightly around the link heading right to our home page. That helped immediately re-establish some “local juice” and signals to the engines that we were to be taken seriously.
Social is great, and it helps you build relationships to get links (among other things) but the power of SEO is tremendously more important, still.
So, I want to be upfront on this one, this is a PAID LINK, but not in the traditional sense. It isn’t like we emailed the blogger and went “what does it cost to get a link that has this anchor text, on your blog?”
We built a relationship with him. We established a local presence, both in physical and digital networking, and we became affiliated with and even a fan of this blogger’s work! We talked, and talked some more. They knew people we knew, we knew people they knew, and it became a partnership of sorts.
So, back to the important part, that allows a 301 redirect to happen awesomely. Building important relationships because you’re out there being everywhere, and being awesome.
The more affiliations with important people you can have, the better your chances are at landing important links that help the engines grant authority to your new website.
One of the important things worth nothing is that Google advises you to go around to all of the links you have on the net pointing to you, and see what you can do about changing them to point to your new domain.
The link we had on this major local blogger’s website, was now pointing to the new domain when it use to point to the old one. Following Google’s rules does pay off, sometimes.
The Technical Side
Well, it really isn’t all that technical at all, and for a lot of us WordPress people, there are plugins that deal directly with 301 Redirects.
Ensure that your home page is being directed to the new home page, that deep pages are being directed to their equivalent deep pages, and that all other pages (contact, about, etc) are also connected to their replacement pages on the new site.
Some people ask the question “will Google see the new site as duplicate content, because it will have virtually the same content as the old site?”
Here’s how you avoid that.
First, on the new site, make it not crawlable initially. Don’t give them a reason to initiate the process of finding which one of those two websites are the original, and de-indexing one of them. In most content management systems, you can use a plugin or a setting to tell the search engines to not index or crawl your pages.
Also, go into Google Webmaster tools, and if you already have your site or blog registered, there’s a change of address process you can initiate right from your dashboard.
That’ll basically tell Google “hey, this old site is no longer the primary site, and here’s the new one.”
I literally told it that RmcTech (The old company name and website) was now iMobileRescue (the new company name and website). Then you’re doing it legitimately.
It’s the one time you want to listen to Matt Cutts and the Google guys about what to do. JK! They say a lot of good stuff you should listen to.
Change Links Elsewhere
Then, as a lot of tutorials and advice will have you do, you should definitely go out there and email the bloggers that are linking to you, get back into the forums and profiles you have signature links in, and try to do the best you can elsewhere to change the links pointing to your old domain, to point to the new one.
It’ll take a bunch of emailing, and a bunch of tracking things down, but you’ll be happy you did it.
When you have links from the biggest bloggers in the world, and they’re pointing to your old website, that isn’t a good thing!
Social Your Face Off
First, I’m not quite clear on specifically how much this will directly effect your search rankings, but letting everyone in your social circle know about the new site, is definitely a good idea.
And don’t just go out and tweet it a couple times, and post it to Facebook. Take pictures of the new site, or if you have a retail spot take pictures of the spot, and tweet them out to people to share. Make it exciting at some level and therefore, shareable.
Try to spark conversations around the move or change. If you’ve done a good job of building fans and connections around the web, and in your market, people will ask you about what you’re doing. You want the congratulations’, the atta boy’s, and the shares that come from it.
After the Switch
Continue building once you’ve switched.
Take some aggressive action on getting some links from people and entities in your industry. Be everywhere. Be in people’s faces, be the company they can’t forget.
Do everything you can to continue to create social media buzz. Talk to everyone, everywhere. Respond to people’s tweets about things related to you and your business. Don’t be salesy. Just get people knowing who you are, and that the new name and website exists, and keep at everything.
We executed a flawless 301 redirect, that got us our local rank back to exactly the way it was, and after two weeks, has now gotten us our national rank back as well.
It certainly isn’t rocket science. It’s the combination of solid relationship building, through being real and being everywhere, offering entertaining and powerful content to grab links and authority, and establishing a foundation of fans and connections through digital and physical networking.
The actual 301 redirect is a simple technical thing you do, the months of building and effective digital marketing is the very thing that allows a 301 redirect to work flawlessly.