Hey Google, check out my 301s

Every so often, you need to change the domain name for a website. This isn't something to be taken lightly as there are several implications.

One of these implications is having stale pages lingering around in Google's index from the old domain. The issue here is that due to dupe content issues, Google may not be willing to index your new content until the old content is gone. Sure, you have setup a 301 from the old pages to the new pages, but maybe your site just doesn't have much authority and Google doesn't care much about your redirects.

Without any links to those old redirected pages, Google won't be revisiting those pages anytime soon. Meaning Google won't get to see your 301, the old page stays indexed, and the new page is ignored because it's dupe content.

My solution to this problem is simple - write an open letter to Google. I like to keep it light hearted, it's not like a person is going to read it. Something like this...

Hey Googlebot, long time no see mate.
Hey, I was wondering if I could bother you for a bit - I have this site I'm in the middle of optimising for a client, and he has the .com domain and the .co.nz domain.

Thing is, the site has had dupe content issues in the past and we are only now doing something about it. You assumed that the 'master' copy was the .com but actually we want the .co.nz to be the main copy because the client mostly deals in New Zealand so to help out we have put a 301 in place.

So Googlebot, could you be so kind as to check out our 301s on the following pages, and do the decent thing and update your index?
Cheers mate. If you want to come round for dinner one night we would love to have you - get your wife to bring some of that lovely link juice that she makes :)



You don't post the letter - you just place it on a page somewhere that Googlebot will find.

So basically I'm just recommending that if you want to speed up the reindexing of your site, you need to get some links. Wow - aren't I just the leading authority on new SEO information!</sarchasm>

Thing is, the pages I mentioned above will never generate any direct links under normal circumstances - anyone linking to a little site like this one will be linking to the homepage. Just adding one link to each of the pages that Google has indexed means that there is a much better chance of Google seeing the 301 and updating the index quicker. If the links are placed on an external site that has been around for a while, then things should happen even quicker.

XML sitemaps

Anoher thing I will sometimes do is include the old URLs in the XML sitemap - if the search engine attempts to follow the link they will see the redirect and (in theory) update the index.

Obviously this method doesn't scale particularly well - but for a 5 page site with almost no links, it's a good way to get things happening just a bit quicker than normal.
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Tags: 301duplicate contentredirectredirectionredirects