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301 Redirects For Better Google 'local' Serps


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16 replies to this topic

#1 flipper

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 04:56 AM

I have tricky decission to make regarding my URLs. We are a small UK based company selling goods online and shipping wordwide. We own 2 particular sites on different servers which show the same content - mysite.com located on a server in the US and mysite.co.uk located in the UK. Both rank well in Google - the .com usually shows on page one in google.com searches for our keywords. However our .co.uk site hovers between page 2 and 3 on google.co.uk for 'UK sites only' searches for the same keywords. Both sites have different backlinks and the .com site has more backlinks as I concentrated on promoting the .com site before 'local search' arrived.

I want to redirect one of these sites to the other so that I don't need to update both each time we update the pages with content which is quite frequent.

As 90% of our purchasing customers are from the UK, would you agree that we should 301 redirect the .com site to the .co.uk in order to enhance the serps ranking for our UK site and so get more UK visitors? - Or would it be better to 301 the .co.uk to the .com as it has a higher page rank and more backlinks?

Or should I leave thing as they are?

#2 Randy

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 07:05 AM

If you wanted to keep the .com and redirect the .co.uk to it you'd also need to make sure the .com was hosted on a UK based server. If you just redirected the .co.uk to the .com and didn't change the hosting I think you'd run the very real risk of having it drop out of the UK listings.

Considering that the majority of your sales are coming from UK customers, my first thought is the same as yours: keep the .co.uk as is and redirect the .com to it. You may risk losing a bit of ground on the US SERPs, but the risk is much smaller since you're potentially playing with a smaller portion of your sales.

One thing you'll want to make sure to do is make it very visible in several somewhere's on the site that you do in fact ship to the US. Not for the search engines, but for real people to see. Something obvious that they can't possibly miss. I might even try to get some short blurb into the snippet that shows up in the SERP listings regarding US shipments by utilizing the meta description.



#3 flipper

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 12:18 PM

Thanks Randy
I thought this would be the case but thought I ought to check in this forum, I usually get very good advice from here. - it's following the advice in this forum that has helped get my sites ranking so high for my main search terms.

After permanently redirecting the .com domain to the .co.uk via 301 for a few months until the .co.uk has taken over the PR of the .com, would you recommend transfering the .com domain name to point directly to the .co.uk server via their DNS servers? I could then drop the US server altogether.

#4 Randy

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 03:27 PM

You could drop the server at any point really flipper. I don't see that you'd have an adverse effect one way or the other since you're already giving the engines a very clear signal about where the actual site/business is located with the 301.

Do make sure you keep the .com registered and active though. If you don't it won't continue pushing thorugh the traffic or the benefits of links still pointing at it.

#5 flipper

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 03:53 AM

Thanks Randy
I will do that. It will be interesting to see how the 301 redirect influences the google.co.uk SERPs. Currently our .com site shows at position 4 for our major keyword in google.com searches direct from the USA and at number 7 if using the same search in google.co.uk 'all the web' tab. However many UK searchers use the 'UK only' tab and this feature changes the search results dramaticaly - our .com site usually does not show in the first 50 for our major search term and the .co.uk site currently is on position 22. I know that these rankings seem good but it puts a bias on hits from outside the UK and as only 10% of our sales come from outside the UK I feel we could improve UK sales by redirecting the .com site.
I'll keep you posted once the 301 has settled in and starts influencing google.co.uk results.

I assume that I have to use the Htaccess file to make the 301 redirect. Can you point me to an article that shows the correct syntax for a unix server to redirect the complete site? - I have a feature in my cPanel to redirect pages but not the complete site.

Edited by flipper, 12 March 2008 - 04:12 AM.


#6 Randy

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 06:28 AM

Well, there are two approaches you could take. I'm assuming here that the sites are exact duplicates in their structure, is this assumption correct?

You could set up the .com domain as a physically hosted domain in cPanel like normal, then redirect all traffic to the co.uk domain. In this case the .htaccess would be placed at the root file level of the .com domain and look like:

CODE
Options +FollowSymlinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteRule ^(.*) http://www.yoursite.co.uk/$1 [R=301,L]


Or since you're going to be moving the .com over to your .co.uk server anyway the cleanest way to do it would probably be to simply Park or Alias the .com domain on top of the co.uk domain.

You can Park the .com either via your Domain Registrar, if they support it, or you can set up the alias right in your control panel after pointing the nameservers for the .com domain to your .co.uk server. How to do this at the Registrar depends upon the Registrar. I'm going from memory here, but I believe cPanel used to refer to Parked/Aliased domains as "Add On" domains. Don't quote me on that part though, it's been several years since I've used a cPanel system. You should be able to find it in their support documents.

If you park the .com on top of to .co.uk your .htaccess instructions will go at the root level of the .co.uk domain. For this type of setup you'd want to use a negative match rewrite condition, one that will handle not only the parked domain but also will automatically take care of any www/non-www issues. That would look like:

CODE
Options +FollowSymlinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www\.yoursite\.co\.uk [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*) http://www.yoursite.co.uk/$1 [R=301,L]


Either way will accomplish the same thing as far as the search engines are concerned. The only difference being if you have a limit on the number of physically hosted domains you can have on your .co.uk server the domain alias shouldn't eat up a spot on you. Well, that and the negative match redirect takes care of www/non-www issues at the same time it deals with the alias forwarding.

#7 flipper

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 03:44 PM

Thanks Randy - I didn't expect such a detailed answer, just a link to a relevant article. I'll let you know how things settle in the .co.uk SERPs in a couple of months - or as soon as I see a marked difference in results.

#8 Jill

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 05:29 PM

Offtopic
QUOTE
Thanks Randy - I didn't expect such a detailed answer,


That's cuz you don't know our Randy! smile.gif


#9 Randy

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 07:29 PM

hysterical.gif

I would say KMA Jill, but that would be rude.

jester.gif

Not to mention that what she says is 100% true!

#10 flipper

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 06:28 AM

Hi Randy & Jill
I said I would keep you updated regarding the 301 redirect - thanks for the advice again.

Our .com does not show at all in the SERPs for our major search term in Google.com or Google.co.uk anmore. Instead it now shows our .co.uk site in the Google SERPs. So G has taken notice of the change, it took about 2 weeks to see the changeover.
Our .co.uk site is currently at position 8 in Google.com and has jumped to position 11 on both the 'worldwide' and 'UK only results' in google .co.uk. - We have already noticed more traffic from UK visitors.
The PR toolbar does not yet show a higher PR yet for our .co.uk - it is still at 3 wheras our .com was 4.
One co-incidental outcome is that we currently rank 1 & 2 in Yahoo for the major search term, our .com is in position 1 and our .co.uk is position 2.

I'll keep you posted

#11 Jill

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 10:02 AM

So it sounds like it's basically working?

Don't worry about the silly toolbar PR.

#12 flipper

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 04:13 AM

Hi Jill
The 301 redirect DEFINATELY worked and was a good decission to make. One month on and our .co.uk site now ranks number 5 in the google.co.uk SERPs for our major search term and higher for other key words. UK traffic is now 83% compared with 45% before. Obviously this has made a huge difference in sales. Our .com site no longer shows in any SERPs and the .co.uk is still number 1 on Yahoo for our major search term.
Many thanks for the advice.

#13 Jill

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 08:02 AM

That's awesome, Flipper!

appl.gif

#14 Randy

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 08:55 AM

Good on you Flipper! thumbup1.gif

#15 CP00

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 05:22 AM

Hi,

The discussion above helps me too, however I have one thing different to do - I have an existing well ranking site that I need transferred to a new domain. Can I alias the new domain on top of the old one and configure the other setiings the same manner? Thank you.




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