[SmartCrawl Pro] How do I maintain SEO rankings when changing the domain?

I've just rebuilt a website for a client using WordPress and a different domain. The client is looking to turn off the old website and make it so that traffic from the old website is redirected to the new website, and I was wondering if there is a better way of doing it to maintain our search engine rankings than to just redirect everything like this?:
http://www.domainA.com/topic1/ --> http://www.domainB.com
http://www.domainA.com/topic2/ --> http://www.domainB.com
http://www.domainA.com/topic3/ --> http://www.domainB.com

Would it be better for SEO (not worried about UX) to match it so that?:
http://www.domainA.com/topic1/ --> http://www.domainB.com/topic1/
http://www.domainA.com/topic2/ --> http://www.domainB.com/topic2/
http://www.domainA.com/topic3/ --> http://www.domainB.com/topic3/

And if so, how would I achieve this using the SmartCrawl Pro plugin? Can we even configure redirects for an external domain from the new website?

  • Adam Czajczyk

    Hi Kelly

    I hope you're well today and thank you for your question!

    The best solution would be to set up "1:1" redirects, for example:

    oldsite.com -> newsite.com
    oldsite.com/article1 -> newsite.com/article1
    oldsite.com/somecategory/ -> newsite.com/somecategory

    Basically, that would be what you suggested. The redirects should be "301 redirects" as they essentially tell the search engine: "hey, this content has been moved to another URL for good and on purpose" :slight_smile:

    And if so, how would I achieve this using the SmartCrawl Pro plugin? Can we even configure redirects for an external domain from the new website?

    If the old site is going to be closed, it's getting a bit more complex. You cannot set redirect external domain URLs to new URLs from inside that new site, the redirect should be set on that "old site end".

    I understand that this is not always possible but it'd be essential to at least keep the old domain - even if the site is "closed". Depending on whether you also moved to other host or not, you could then point that old domain to a new host.

    Then:

    - if the URL structure of a new site is the same as on old one, you could actually use .htaccess to setup a "universal" redirect; that would be the fastest redirect as it's on a server level

    - if the URL structure if different, you could actually use SmartCrawl on a new site like that:
    a) set "first" redirect like in the case above
    b) use "SmartCrawl -> Advanced Tools -> URL Redirect" to set additional specific redirects; let me explain that by example below.

    Let's say there was "domain.com/my-article" on the old site but on a new site the same content is on "newsite.com/my-blog/personal/my-article" URL. Assuming that you have a "1:1" redirect set for "domain.com" to "newsite.com" you could then add

    /my-article -> /my-blog/personal/my-article 301 redirect in SmartCrawl on the new site.

    I hope that makes sense :slight_smile: The bottom line is: it would be best to just do the "mirror" redirects directly from the "old site" to the "new site", just like you suggested in your question. But if that's not possible then if you are able to keep the old domain one of the above ways should do the trick.

    If you have any additional questions, let me know please.

    Kind regards,
    Adam

  • Kelly

    Thank you for you response! The URLs won't be easy to map with rules due to the new domain being HTTPS instead of HTTP, doesn't end in '.php' anymore, and directories/page titles in the URL are different.

    But going through your response, and being that the URL structure is different between sites, my understanding of the best way to go about this is:
    1. To create a new website using SmartCrawl.
    2. Assign the old domain to this website.
    3. Manually add the 301 redirects to SmartCrawl.
    4. Have this site funnel old traffic to the correct new pages.
    Is this correct?

    If so, I have a couple of quick follow up questions:
    Will Google eventually recognise this and replace the old google listing with the new one, or will these two act as competing sites?
    And will we have to continually leave the old website up to maintain this benefit?

  • Adam Czajczyk

    Hi Kelly

    Yes, in this case I think that might be the best/simplest solution.

    I'm not sure what do you mean by "assign the old domain to this website" though. The new website is meant to use the same domain as the old one? If so, that's even easier because in such case yes - you'd actually could only set those 301 redirects in SmartCrawl.

    If not and the site is under a new domain to then you'd need to first set a redirect to from the old domain to the new domain. That should be "1:1" redirect (so keeping entire URLs) via .htaccess.

    So for example:

    oldsite.com/article/my-article.php

    should go to the

    newsite.com/article/my-article.php

    and then in the newsite.com you would set SmartCrawl to 301 redirect the "newsite.com/article/my-article.php" to a proper new URL.

    Will Google eventually recognise this and replace the old google listing with the new one, or will these two act as competing sites?

    Yes, the point of 301 redirect (which sometimes even called a "SEO Redirect") is to let the search engine know that a given content has been permanently and purposefully moved to a different location. That's a "legit" way to inform it about such change and Google will eventually (tho there's absolutely no way to predict the time, it might be days it might be months) update all the references in its index. But even before it happens, those old links from Google will lead to the new site (via the redirects) and would be "positioned" the same in search results.

    And will we have to continually leave the old website up to maintain this benefit?

    No, you don't have to keep entire website. If you set the first redirect (as said above) in .htaccess all you need to keep is the old domain active. It can even be moved to some other server (that doesn't matter), it just have to be active and hosted "somwhere" so the .htaccess redirect could be maintained. You'd need to monitor URLs in Google to make sure that search results were re-indexed and then you could safely remove the old domain too.

    Best regards,
    Adam

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