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I have a client that we are looking at moving his site to a new domain name because of lots of bad back linking in the past. We have done a ton of cleanup work since getting this client but organic results have not returned so they want to put the site on a new domain. I have obtained great local rankings and the team is worried about possible kickback on local rankings due to the domain name change.

My thoughts are that this should not be a worry since local is mostly founded off other indicators than that and as long as all the pages are redirected properly things should stay where they regarding local. I have no experience with doing this though and wanted to post here to see if anyone here has done this before and what they experienced with it. I figure my team can just spend a day updating the url on all the citations and other listings we have for the client when the change happens but is there anything else I should be worrying about with this?
 
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Since your current site does rank well locally why not create a second site to handle organic traffic and you may have duel first page listings for some of your keywords.
 
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That was an option initially but the client is leaning toward having just the one site.
 
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In that case for me it would really depend on how competitive that market is for Local and how much of their business is derived from their site. If it was a very competitive market and most of the revenue comes from the site I would not change a thing and get them to lean back the other way towards two sites. If it isn't broke don't fix it.

But back to your initial question will the ranking hold... My understanding is that each link passes page rank and not the history, good or bad, that helped it get that rank. So in theory you will lose a little bit of page rank with the 301 redirect, but should lose all the bad effects of the bad links.

I have successfully moved sites from one domain to another and maintained ranking for pages using 301 redirects. But never tried to use a new domain to shake off bad back links.

Hopefully someone more knowledgeable then me can chime in. Now you have me curious too :)
 

Linda Buquet

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Thanks Jamie!

Sorry Grant, not my wheelhouse at all.

In fact I hate even thinking about stuff like this. I have had a new domain for awhile...
localsearchforum.com. Good one 'eh??? ;) Think I can get up the nerve to have David move it? Nope, I keep getting cold feet. I'm not even that worried about ranking because most of our traffic I think is word of mouth - just worried about all the hassles, possible problems with re-directs, moving licenses, etc. etc.
 

David Deering

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Well, I don't claim to be more knowledgeable than anyone here, but I would say that doing 301 redirects from the old site to the new would not be a good idea if you're trying to shake off the effects of bad backlinks. When you do a 301, you basically transfer the value of the links (good or bad) to another page. So for example, if you have a sketchy backlink to your homepage and it's harming your current site, and then you create a new site and 301 redirect the old homepage to the new, that sketchy backlink is now going to harm your new site. It's sort of like a bad virus passing from one person to another. So I definitely would not recommend 301 redirecting the old site pages to the new if there are backlinks out there harming the current site. The only benefit of creating a new site is being able to start fresh and disassociate yourself from the old site and its bad backlinks.

Creating a separate site is also a tricky thing, because you don't want to create a site that is basically a duplicate of the current one. Google will catch that and think that you're trying to game the system, and they hate duplicate content, too. So that's also something to consider if you plan on building a second site. Either way, I really don't think that there's an easy solution to this problem, unfortunately.
 

Ben Bowen

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Yeah, I think the bad mojo will just catch up to you. I would disavow everything that is sketchy and then start organic from scratch.

Whatever direction you go with this there is gong to be some waiting, might as well wait but be sure the local stays intact.
 
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I agree with David on this point and think it is your biggest concern. You can't hide and you don't want to loose some trust from Google by 301's. You would probably end up doing more work having to do all the things associated with changing your domain than fighting to better the rank through clean up on the current, unless the current domain name itself is just horrible.

....a new site and 301 redirect the old homepage to the new, that sketchy backlink is now going to harm your new site. It's sort of like a bad virus passing from one person to another. So I definitely would not recommend 301 redirecting the old site pages to the new if there are backlinks out there harming the current site.
 
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Sorry about not being clear on the redirect situation. We have actually done link removal and disavowed all the sketchy links. The site just is not coming back from the hit they took from the bad links, it has been 4 months now. So the only other option is to start with a fresh domain. We were thinking we could wait till the next penguin refresh but we do not want to wait around and then if that does not do it have to go to the client potentially several months down the road to tell them we should change them to a branded domain.

I guess the local question here is if we do a url/domain change what should I be concerned about. I know with the change we would have to go through and update all the url's on the clients listings, but that should not have a impact on the local in my opinion. As long as everything goes smooth their local should remain where it is since we are not changing the name, address or phone. Has anyone seen something go wrong in doing a domain change with a clients local?
 
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