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Redirection Question And Impact

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7 replies to this topic

#1 Kris


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Posted 04 January 2010 - 07:26 AM

Hi all

I have a customer [site removed] who are top of Google for the [it's main search term] and various other keyword phrases.

We are building a brand new 2nd website for them ( for example www.website2.co.uk ).

The customer has asked if we can redirect all traffic for www.website1.co.uk to goto www.website2.co.uk and use this new website as a kind of portal allowing the visitors to access www.website1.co.uk from here. (i.e. not directly via organic ranking or by typing directly into the address bar of the browser)

My main concern is the current index of the existing website and that it will be lost completely if I set all requests for the homepage to go to a brand new website. (because the seo spider will also be redirected)

Has anyone got any thoughts on how I could apply this redirection for all requests for www.website1.co.uk but yet maintain the SE placement in google for the search term 'school fund'?

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


#2 Jill


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Posted 04 January 2010 - 08:57 AM

If you redirect via a 301, then all traces of website1 will be removed eventually from Google. However, type in traffic will still go to the new site at website2.

#3 Kris


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Posted 04 January 2010 - 11:25 AM

Hi Jill

If I do a HTTP Header that is not a 301 redirect specific, for example:

// if a user requests the homepage of website1, then do the following:
header('Location: http://www.website2.co.uk');

Would this still eventually loose my rankings for wesbite1? I presume so as Google will never be able to crawl it...??

#4 Randy


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Posted 04 January 2010 - 04:38 PM

Impossible to answer with a high degree of certainty kbc1. And this assumes your server is typical and would default to a 302 status code if a 301 is not expressly declared.

302's are odd in how they're handled by the search engines sometimes. Which is going to require a bit of discussion.

With 301's you're, in theory and practice, expressly declaring to the search engines that the page requested has been moved permanently to a new location. Of course we have to accept that nothing is truly permanent, but the search engines treat 301's as if they were permanent, or at least temporarily permanent. Meaning they attempt to assign all value they normally give to the original page to the page they're now being redirected.

All search engines have been pretty consistent with how they've dealt with 301's historically. Meaning 100% of the time the old page gets removed from the index and the new page basically takes its place.

Conversely a 302 redirect is supposed to be a temporary thing. Where you're telling the search engines that the move is a temporary one and that at some point in time you'll reverse it or do something else entirely. So in the case of a 302 quite often the old page will stay in the index, even though users are ending up at the new page because they hit the 302 the moment they hit the old page.

But, and here's where it gets terribly confusing, all of the search engines reserve the right to change this default action of 302's. Meaning they reserve the right to treat 302's as they would 301's where everything gets transferred to the new page, but they also reserve the right to do the opposite and keep the old page in their SERPs.

This is how Ye Olde 302 Hijacking Exploits became such a issue in years past. The way those worked is that some scammer from siteB.com would set up a page on their site that 302'd over to a very popular page on siteA.com when and only when they detected a search engine spider hitting it. Normal traffic would stay on the page. If they did everything just right their scam page on siteB.com could end up replacing siteA.com's page in the SERPs. Sounds funny, but it happened. Basically the siteB.com scammy page was getting all of the latent value of the siteA.com page because of the 302 Hijack.

Users who went to siteA.com would still stay at siteA.com, because nothing was exploited on the site itself. Users of siteB.com would stay on siteB.com because the redirect only fired when a search engine spider was detected. But if you searched in say Google for siteA.com's keyword phrases siteB.com would show up because they'd mistakenly given siteB.com the credit and good will siteA.com had built up over the years.

These days this sort of exploit is much less of a problem. Not because it doesn't still work (it does, occasionally if you really know what you're doing) but because the search engines have made internal changes that treat 302's more like they would a 301 in the vast majority of cases. Matt Cutts himself has stated around 4 years ago (check his blog for an early 2006 entry on 302's) that 99% of the time Google will show the final destination page in their SERPs, even if the redirect is of the 302 variety. Note that this isn't the same as saying all value of the original page gets passed along as seems to be the case with a 301. That part of the equation has never been addressed by a search engine rep to my knowledge.

Sooooooo, to attempt to answer your question...

If you use a 302 either situation could arise. It wouldn't surprise me if the old original URLs stayed in the SERPs for a long while even with a 302 redirect in place. It also wouldn't surprise me if the old URLs disappeared from the SERPs. And it wouldn't surprise me if they disappeared and weren't replaced by the new destination address. Or if they were replaced.

The moral being that with 302's you leave the decision totally up to the search engines. Whereas with 301's the circumstances are better defined and the outcome is more consistent.

#5 SelfMade


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Posted 04 January 2010 - 04:46 PM

Randy, is there anything you don't know??

How about write a book on answers to anything impossible to answer??

Headache reading this...! upfunny.gif


#6 Randy


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Posted 04 January 2010 - 11:39 PM

Lots of stuff I don't know. wink1.gif

#7 Kris


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Posted 05 January 2010 - 04:42 AM

Thank you for the great insight Randy, very informative and very useful!


#8 etzeppy


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Posted 07 January 2010 - 09:18 AM

Thanks for the insite on 302s. Great info. You might want to "pin" this one.

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