: Is there a safe way to redirect traffic from a dozen old websites to a new (unrelated) website? Over the years I've built over a dozen unsuccessful sites. They get 10-100 visitors per day
Over the years I've built over a dozen unsuccessful sites. They get 10-100 visitors per day each. The topics include all kinds of random things - recipes, hiking tips, military equipment, gym bloopers, etc. I don't really need these websites anymore.
I recently launched a new business and I'm trying to figure out a Google-safe way to send all the visitors from my old websites to my new business website. While most of the visitors may not be interested in my new business, some of them may be interested and could convert to customers. I'd instantly get a few thousand new visitors to my business website.
Is there a safe way to redirect visitors from my old websites to my new website so that Google doesn't penalize me?
I've spent last couple of days reading about SEO best practices and it looks like it's very risky to 301 or even 302 redirect visitors from old sites to a new, unrelated site.
301 redirect will carry the all the associated link-juice to the new site but since my new site is unrelated to old sites, Google will penalize me for having a category mismatch. My new business has nothing to do with gym bloopers or military equipment.
I read that 302 redirect doesn't carry link juice, but after more careful investigation I found out that in some cases it actually does carry link juice the same way 301 does. (Here's a case-study about that). This method also looks unsafe.
An idea that I've is setting up a funnel page, such as "TryMyBusiness.com", then 301 redirect all old websites to this new funnel page, and then just have a banner ad with a link from "TryMyBusiness.com" to "MyBusiness.com". This however can be classified as doorway-page right? Which is prohibited by Google as well.
All these methods feel unsafe. If Google penalizes my new business website for doing the redirects then it's a dead business. Is there a safe way to just send visitors to my new business site? My gut feeling is to just let my old sites die and focus on the new business and build links and get visitors from scratch.
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The problem I see is that you're "splitting the switch" trying to have a potpourri content site on a business site. Don't do that.
There's nothing wrong with a noncommercial site that has content on a wide variety of subjects. Many people's personal websites are like that, or at the extreme, Geocities or Blogspot. However these sites are not principally business/product/advertising sites.
Obviously there's nothing wrong with having a business site.
Unfortunately, when search engines didn't want the web flooded with machine generated keyword spew, this became "content marketing" and the web became flooded with cheaply written content spew.
So when you have a business site also with a bunch of unrelated articles tacked on for no apparent reason, it looks exactly like the worst form of content marketing.
So my suggestion is to have 2 sites. Let your business site focus on your business, and have a separate site for your multiple-subject potpourri. If you're trying to use this content to doorway people to your business site, don't do that. It doesn't work. Web browsers don't "push" like that, precisely because they are skeptical from so many spammers trying. The best you can hope for is they like your content, and come to like you, and become interested in what else you do.
Similarly if you have two distantly related businesses, have a website for each. Magician and electrician? 2 websites.
301 or 302 redirects are for directing users to the exact same content in a different location. They should be maintained permanently to benefit people who reached the old location via bookmarks, links from external sites, etc. Suppose you have a page on making your own soap. If you move it, use 301/302. If you don't want to host that page anymore and are removing it from the web permanently, the correct reply is "410 Gone" -- preferably with an HTML body which explains to the user that the content is gone for good and isn't coming back. Users can't read HTTP codes.
If you want to also put an ad on the 410 page, that's fine, as long as the user must click it to continue. I mean, that makes it a doorway page, but the search engine won't care since 410 tells it not to index.
In addition to all answers, the most importan thing is to Perform an Inbound Link Analysis and then make 301 Redirection Plan. This is the heart of your migration from an SEO standpoint.
Tip: If you can keep the same URL structure as your original website when redesigning or migrating a website, do it! It will make your life a lot easier. If the URL’s remain the same, you don’t need to issue 301’s. And for larger sites, this can save you a lot of time and pain.
It does not make sense and you should not risk it. Spend some time to create content on all old websites that drive some traffic to your new website. Go for peace of mind. Content is king.
Yes, sort of.
Put yourself in the visitors shoes (with google at their back) and ask how you can introduce your new content to them in a relevant way.
old site is about say hiking and new one is about music recording services
add content to the hiking site aimed at say hikers who like to bring their guitars along on hikes to play encouraging them to consider recording some of their performances in studio for the niche hiking market?
Obviously with branding and links (and maybe a voucher etc) for your new site.
It's harder work but google should have no problem with it unlike the clearly deceptive strategy of just using redirects.
First, something that's implied in other answers, but should probably be spelled out: the situation you describe is something Google actively wants to discourage -- you're not "collateral damage" in their fight against spammers, you are their intended target in their fight against irrelevant and 'deceptive' results. ('Deceptive' in the sense that you think you're clicking on a link to a page about one thing, but get taken to a page about something else entirely -- not in the 'fraudulent' or 'scammer' sense)
Because of their constant algorithm arms race, even if you find a work-around that works today, Google will probably update their system to extend the penalty to the work-around. (if the work-around exists, you won't be the only person using it, so it won't fly "under their radar")
Redirects are unlikely to help your new business. If someone clicks on a link that they think will take them to a page about "hiking tips" or "military equipment", but instead it takes them to a page about "music recording", it will often annoy them enough to leave a bad taste in their moth even if they are also interested in music recording, poisoning the well. It's not what they were looking for a the moment, so they are going to feel annoyed at you for "tricking" them, and at Google for giving a "bogus" result.
So in short: don't do it.
One thing that all your sites have in common is you.
Why not throw a designed by link at the bottom of your site that links to your "portfolio" where your new business is prominently displayed.
301 Redirects are completely fine if they're real.
If you had an old site and then decided to move/combine it with some other related site, there's absolutely no problem putting up a 301 redirect on the old site to send users to the new site.
You should not be penalized for this in Google and if you are, they're completely reasonable about fixing it if you contact them.
However . . . if you do a bunch of them all at once or they're unrelated and you're just trying to "get traffic", yeah, you'll be slammed with the Ban Hammer.
There's nothing weird going on. They want useful search results. If that's your goal everybody is happy. If it's not, Bad Things will happen.
The best thing to do is not worry about the traffic to your old sites.
I had a good friend who graduated from Harvard Business. He told stories about how Harvard drummed into his head the mantra of "Know when to cut your losses." every day one way or another.
From a business perspective, this is excellent advice! It is good advice in life too!!
You are far better off making your one business site rank well on it's own and not trying any tricks or methods to capture traffic that is not purely correct for that site.
The advice not to forward traffic or create link pages or create doorway pages is sound advice.
I will add this.
Forget your old sites. While it can be hard to let go of old sites, I can tell you from experience that it can actually be a relief not to deal with them again and just let them go. If you truly do not want to maintain these
sites anymore, just let them expire and forget about them. Move on. Let them go and you will feel a weight lifted off of your shoulders. Trust me. This is the best advice anyone can give. You will be a lot happier in the end.
Bad Idea! Never, I repeat NEVER do that.
I tried that 3 days ago and after couple of days the site to which I redirected completely lost all its rankings. Not even it was ranking on searching domain.com in Google.
All indexed pages are still there but the site lost its ranking completely.
I can provide the links of the sites as proof but that's not allowed here. But trust me it's a disastrous idea.
What was affected?
All rankings are lost permanently temporarily.
All indexed pages are removed
I have received an email from Google regarding the issue.
The messages goes as:
I am fixing the issue from my end. Will update the results later.
I have received the mail from Google after a week. The reconsideration request has been accepted in the first attempt.
What did I do before reconsideration request?
I removed all the ads - Pop-up Ads, Banner Ads, Text Ads - all of them.
Checked thoroughly if the site is being redirected to some other sites as well as any unknown referral visitors to the site coming from redirected website.
Checked with Google PageSpeed, GTMetrix, Pingdom, etc.
Submitted for reconsideration.
The reply from Google:
What was done after accepting the request?
All rankings were restored
All indexed pages were restored
You can't redirect your old sites without losing 90% of their value and risking a penalty on your new site.
There usually isn't a huge cost to leaving old sites up and running. You could use them to advertise your new site. Put a banner about your new site on every page of your old sites.