I hate when good people suffer from bad SEO: Us Seattleites love the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Tomorrow will be the last print edition. Here, in the Emerald City, we already knew the venerable newspaper was to become an online only publication. And as much as we hate to say goodbye to the broadsheets, we want the online edition to succeed. That’s why this story hurts. I hope they fix it quickly.
Unfortunately they made a critical mistake. Instead of redirecting from the old domain to the new domain by using a 301 Permanent Redirect, they used a 302 Temporary Redirect.
Why is this such a big mistake?
Search engines, like Google use external links to help them measure authority and trust. In a nutshell, having many web sites linking to your web site, and having high authority web sites linking to your web site make your web site appear more authoritative and trustworthy, at least to the search engines.
But what happens when you change domains?
When you change domains all those links on other web sites still point to your old domain and web site. This makes them useless. However, you can point your old web site at your new web site using a web server redirect. A redirect automatically forwards a visitor from one page to a second page.
There are two types of redirects, a Permanent 301 Redirect and a Temporary 302 Redirect. Search engines look at the two very differently.
A 302 tells the search engines that the web page forwarding is short-term and tells search engines to not change their index because things will soon go back to the way they used to be. That means all the authority and trust passed by links will not travel through a 302 Temporary Redirect. It’s like throwing your authority and trust against a brick wall.
A 301 Permanent Redirect tells search engines that your web site forwarding is here to stay. When search engines encounter a 301 Redirect they pass along all that authority and trust from the old web page to the new web page.
By using 302 Temporary Redirects, The Seattle PI just cut-off all of all of the search engine ranking authority that they previously earned through links from other web site!
Here’s more proof. Google is not updating The Seattle PI’s web cache:
Google is still pointing to the old domain.
These images, taken at 21:35 GMT compare the Google cache version and the live SeattlePI.com web site. Google usually updates the Seattle PI’s cache much faster.