There are many people who wonder what will happen when you completely redirect a domain name which you had for many years and it contains many backlinks and listings within the search engines, for this example, we changed a domain name with over 500+ different IP backlinks and 3000 complete backlinks in total. Of course, this was a huge risk as the website was ranking very well for certain keywords and we were highly worried that the SEO would drop.
We performed 301 permanent redirect
301 redirect is a permanent redirect of a domain name, meaning that it will be permanent and all SEO ranking which the domain has will be transferred over. We never used 302 redirect because this would be temporary and we wanted long term redirect.
- 301, “Moved Permanently” – Moves most of the websites SEO over too
- 302, “Found” or “Moved Temporarily” – no SEO is moved and redirected anywhere
More info here on how to do a 301 redirect, this is what we used – Click here
The traffic outcome on the new website which we redirected to for the next 12 months
Here is the image which shows the last 12 months of the SEO traffic, let’s have a look at it below in more details.
As you can see above we have 5 different actions taking place over the last 12 months, lets explain what each of the figures shown does.
This is where we have changed our main domain name to do a 301 redirect, we had a huge spike in traffic, this was expected, imagine redirecting 1000 users, of course there will be a huge spike of traffic so this never really had our jaw-dropping, on further note, this actually had us worried about our previous domain SEO rankings being moved over correctly and not dropping as much, we knew some of the seo rankings would drop as its almost impossible to transfer all SEO ranking whilst performing the 301 (permanent) website redirect.
This was the settlement period, traffic was not stable and very spiky, moving like crazy up and down but in a steady stream, this is know as settlement period.
Just as expected the SEO ranks dropped like crazy and the website went from 800 users per day straight down to 500, this was something we never expected, a huge drop in rankings, also please don’t forget we were receiving around 1100 users per day before on our previous website, so we weren’t happy at all. We did post around 50 new blogs back then but that never helped in driving any new SEO traffic, the SEO traffic just simply kept dropping and dropping, as more and more backlinks were dropped due to the 301 redirect the ranks went down and it was one huge disaster.
This was a nightmare, we looked at our semRush backlink analytics, our backlinks went from 200K down to around 2000 (graph below)
This was a huge SEO disaster but we knew it wouldn’t get any worse from here, the worst was behind us, we were left with 2000 strong backlinks, also most of the 200,000 backlinks were from our previous website, which explains the change in backlinks, but never expected it to be so dramatic. We posted another 90+ high SEO related blog posts then but they had no effects on SEO what so ever until a few months later, we started gaining back good backlinks and things started to look good again (see below Figure E)
As you can see on the graph the traffic started to grow again as more users on site became active, the SEO ranks and backlinks started growing. This gave us a little push in the search engines and we started beating some of our competitors. (Our website is a music production resource website where users download music production resources)
Our website is now at 1500 users per day and still growing, it took a whole year to get where we are at the moment, as you can see below google analytics screenshot.
Summary of doing 301 redirect
We have learned that doing a permanent 301 redirect to a new website domain name and moving website files over is a disaster, no matter what you try and do to save your SEO ranks you will simply see a huge drop in backlinks and SEO ranks. At the start, you will see a huge spike of traffic and it will make you happy but then most of it will drop within 3/4 months, you can expect your traffic to normalize after 8/9 months and after that finally see some growth. This is the rise and fall of doing a 301 redirect and we would like to warn you that only do the 301 redirect if it’s most necessary, otherwise stick with your current domain name just for the sake of SEO and rankings you currently have.
If you are going to do a 301 redirect we recommend you to;
– Do all separate page 301 redirects so each page has its ranks transferred.
– Hire a professional if you don’t understand programming as this can become messy.
– Keep backups of your old website and SQL database.
– Do not panic when you see drop in traffic as it will get better later on.
– Keep publishing new articles and work hard, things will get better!