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How To Redirect To New Domain Without 301

When a website has a new domain address, the usual way to redirect traffic to the new domain, is with a 301 redirect. However some sites such as those hosted on free servers or sites that are located on the webspace that comes with an internet account don't have that option.

But there is still a way to tell Google and other search engines your site has a new web address without loosing any of the traffic your old website was getting. It is by using a canonical rel tag in the webpages of the old website. This tag was designed to let webmasters tell Google which webpage they prefer to be listed in search results if they have more than one webpage with similar or identical content.

The canonical rel tag is put between the head tags of every webpage of the old website and contains the url of the corresponding new webpage. When Google crawls the old webpages and sees the new url, it will know that's the webpage it should list in place of the old one.

A canonical tag looks like this:

<link rel="canonical" href="">

The canonical tag is placed between the <head></head> of every webpage in the old website. The example above would be placed in the index page (replace "" with your new domain). Any other pages of the old site would contain the url of the corresponding new page:

<link rel="canonical" href="">

The content of the new domain must be identical to the corresponding webpages of the old site. If the content is not the same, search engines may decide that the pages on the new domain are not a good match for the keywords under which the old webpages are listed and will ignore the canonical tag altogether.

To learn more about the canonical tag check out Google's support page


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