301 Redirect Diagram

Change your website domain or urls without losing search rank

Something that comes up fairly often is that a business changes their name in some way or updates their branding, which means a change in the domain name. We at Green Stream have recently been switching all our online properties:

greenstreamco.com to greenstreamweb.com

While this may be a simple change, it can have huge implications for your google search ranking. If you don’t tell google what you are doing and their algorithms sense a change it wasn’t expecting, you could get demoted or even delisted from Google all together.

Don’t worry, there are things you can do to ensure a smooth transition and little or no loss of search ranking…

Here’s what to do.

First of all, you’ll need to identify what the change will be. If you are simply changing from one .com to another (as in our example above), you can use the “Change of Address” tool within the Google Webmaster Tools Console. When in the Webmaster tools, select your website to make sure you’re editing the right property (in case you have more than 1), then click the Gear icon at the top right of the window. You should see the “Change of Address” option. Follow the instructions there and you should be set.

Good, all set there. Now, what happens is some of your urls are changing? Like your services pages used to be under main .com address (greenstream.com/web-design), and now their all under a “/services/” directory (greenstreamweb.com/services/web-design).

To accomplish this, you’ll use a 301 Redirect, which is a server status code that indicates that a page has been permanently moved to a new location. Unless all of your old urls are being moved to the same subdirectories, you’ll have to do each of these separately so you can ensure they all redirect to the correct new location. Here’s the bits of code you’ll need:

Redirect 301 /web-design http://greenstreamweb.com/services/web-design


Let me quickly breakdown what’s happening here:

  1. Redirect 301 – indicates the redirect type
  2. “/web-design” is the old url that is no longer being used…this must only be the part of the url after the “.com”
  3. “http://greenstreamweb.com/services/web-design” is the full url of the new location for the page.

301 Redirect Diagram

The last thing you’ll need to know, is where to put that line of code. These instructions are for sites using the apache web server (most wordpress sites use this). Go to the root diretory of your website. you should see files like wp-config.php and index.php. There is a file called “.htaccess”. Open that file and that’s where you can put your redirects. If you do not see that file, it may be hidden. You’ll need to change your settings to view hidden files or talk to your web host to show those hidden files.

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