Passing Link Juice with 301 Redirects
Changing URLs and moving domains is a fact of life for website owners. The scary part about making such changes is the potential negative impact to rankings in search engine results. The good news is that the search engines, Google in particular, have become much better at mapping old URLs to new ULRs and transferring the value from existing external links from the old URL to the new URL. All that is usually required is a 301 redirect and the search engines will eventually take care of the rest. And yet URL changes still cause stress because a lot of what goes on is behind-the-scenes and invisible to us. Will the search engines really give me credit for all of my previously acquired links? Or will I have to start from scratch?
I use two methods to confirm that 301 redirects are indeed having the desired effect when moving sites from one domain name to another. The first method simply involves watching the PageRank of the new domain. If the new domain jumps from no PageRank to a value that is one less or equal to the PageRank of the old site, it's quite likely that Google has picked up the redirects and is now treating links to the old domain as links to the new domain. This technique assumes you haven't made much effort to obtain new inbound links to the new domain.
The second method requires some digging in Google using the link command. The first step is to do a link search on the new domain. In my example below I used allthingssem.com which is the current domain name for this site.
The above search returned, among others, this listing from the TopRank Blog.
Clicking through to the destination brings up this article from Lee Odden describing a few additions to his BigList of SEM blogs back in May.
The red box near the bottom of the screenshot highlights a link to the original domain name I used for this site i.e. searchgrit.com. Clearly Google has heeded my 301 redirects from searchgrit.com to allthingssem.com and now considers links to the former as links to the later.
And with a sigh of relief I can move on to other things. Happy redirecting!