How to Properly Redirect a Domain Name and Get Link Credit

I recently received an email from Duane Long asking a question about redirecting a domain name that he had recently purchased. He is trying to redirect the domain name so that he can get the proper link credit; so that the links from the domain name he bought is credited to his current, live website. Here is his email and my detailed response to him.


Hello Bill,
You have a very informative site and thank you for being there for us.

I recently purchased an expired domain name to take advantage of it’s many incoming links. There were a few hundred and “subject specific” for the most part with it and my current active website.
Well I did the redirect deal and now when I go to linkdomain:domain.com -site:domain.com on yahoo.com, neither the domain I purchased nor mine have the links related to them.

What happened ???

Duane C Long
PHOTOGRAPHER
www.DuaneLongphoto.com

Hi Duane,

There are a few problems with how the 301 Permanent Redirect is set up. Here is what I found:

While the redirect is set up, it’s only set up for the site’s home page. If you go to http://www.photoshop-forums.com/ it DOES redirect. However, the majority of the links to that domain name are links to pages on the site (to pages other than the home page). And when you go to one of those pages, there’s a problem: the pages other than the home page don’t redirect.

Here’s an example: http://www.photoshopcafe.com/cafe/viewthread.php?tid=10604&page=1

That link does not redirect properly. You’ll need to set up those redirects properly. Most likely you’ll need to get another web host where you have more control over the redirects and the type of redirects (Godaddy’s redirect “service” isn’t really a proper 301 Permanent Redirect, it does a 302 redirect to another URL and then a 301 Permanent Redirect). There’s also a way to set it up so that every page on the other domain (even pages that you didn’t know existed) get redirected properly, kind of a “catch all” for everything.

The other issue is that I don’t think you’ve waited long enough. One week is usually not long enough for the site to get crawled and the search engines to give you “credit” for the redirect. One tell-tale sign that Google, for example, may not see the redirect yet is the fact that when you search Google for the domain name (photoshop-forums.com), Google is showing the old home page in their search results. Until they show the other domain that you’re redirecting it to Google may not be giving you the full credit you deserve. The key here is patience, some times it just takes some time, I would give it a full month to make sure that all of the search engines recognize the 301 Permanent Redirects, and some search engines like Yahoo!, may still have some issues with it, as Yahoo! just doesn’t deal with redirects the way Google does.

For future reference, I would have done the following to make sure that you get the proper “link credit” for the 301 Permanent Redirect:

Check the backlinks. Do a “link domain:domain.com -site:domain.com” search at Yahoo! and physically check the backlinks. Make sure that those links are pointing to the domain you own (or the one you want to buy). There are programs and scripts that will crawl the links to make sure they are still there (like OptiLink), which may be helpful to you or at least speed up the process. Make sure that the domain you’re buying (or domain you’re going to redirect) wasn’t itself redirected. That’s important, because the backlinks you’re seeing might actually be the backlinks of another domain name. Make note of any important links that are linking so pages other than the home page.

Get ahold of the domain name and put the old content back up on the site (if you have access to it). Some people might go as far as taking the old content from the Wayback Machine or a search engine’s cached copy of it. There may be issues with using the content, though, so just make sure that you have the proper permission before you do that.

Set up web hosting for the domain. Don’t use a ‘free’ or other “cheap” web hosting, as you may not have access to the site’s log files (which I’ll get to later) and you may not have access to edit the site’s .htaccess file (which is very important to make sure that you can do the proper redirects).

After you have content on the domain that you want to redirect, wait at least a week or two in order to make sure that the search engines are indexing the domain name’s new content. At this point, you may even want to get a few new links to the domain name in order to “help out” the search engines’ crawling and indexing process.

Since you now have ahold of the domain name, watch the website’s stats (based on the log files, not some JavaScript counter like Google Analytics) and make not of any URLs that have 404 errors, as there may be traffic and links pointing to those URLs. You might want to put content on those old URLs, as well, even if it’s not the old content. If there’s a link pointing to an interior page on the site (an interior page is a page other than the home page), then you’ll want to make sure that that URL is indexed again by the search engines. Make note of the URLs on the site that have traffic (you can find them by watching for 404 errors).

Once you’re confident that the site you’re going to redirect has been ‘revived’ in the search engines’ indexes and the pages are showing Google PageRank again, you’ll want to wait another week or two. I prefer to wait at least a month two. Perhaps even longer than that. I usually will spend some time getting a few new links to the site, as well.

Set up the redirects. If there are URLs that you’ve noted before that have important links (like links to pages other than the home page), you’ll want to set up a 301 Permanent Redirect from those URLs to wherever you’re redirecting the traffic. If at all possible, look at the former content of the page that you’re redirecting and redirect that page to another page on another site that has similar content. Don’t redirect everything to the site’s home page. There is a limit to how many pages you can redirect, and I try to keep it under 100 if possible. I prefer only to set up redirects that are “catch all” redirects (like redirecting every page request on a domain to another site) if we’re dealing with a LOT of domains. Otherwise, it’s best to target the traffic as best as you can when you’re redirecting a URL.

It’s important to note that using a “service” like Godaddy‘s redirect service is not preferred. Currently, as of this writing, Godaddy does a redirect that’s a 302 redirect to another URL and then they redirect it again with a 301 Permanent Redirect. In this case, it appears that Godaddy is only redirecting traffic from the old site’s home page, and not other URLs that are requested. Those are resulting in 404 errors. Therefore, the site you’re redirecting to is not getting credit for those other URLs, where the majority of the links are pointing to on the site. In this case, I would not use Godaddy’s redirection, I would set up the proper web hosting with another web host and use the .htaccess file to do the redirects.

Duane, I hope this answers your question as to why you’re not getting the proper “credit” for the links. While you’re redirecting, you’re not getting the proper “link credit” because the links are pointing to pages other than the home page (and those pages aren’t getting redirected) and you haven’t waited long enough: Google, for example, is still currently showing indexing of the old home page.