Usurping our old website's Google ranking for make benefit glorious new website
September 21, 2008 5:42 PM   Subscribe

New website with a new address can't compete on Google against its previous incarnation, which has been up (at a different address) since forever. And we can't use a 301 (or any other) redirect. Is there anything else we can do?

So I've recently developed a website for an academic journal. It's the first "real" website they've had. It'd be nice (to say the least) to have the site come up first when you type the journal's name into Google, but for years now the journal's editor has had a little info page up about it on the web space provided by the uni she's at; and as far as Google's concerned, that's the top-ranked site when you type in the name of her journal. That address has both longevity on its side and the fact that it's a .edu domain, which I understand translates into credibility. There's also, I suspect, going to be links from other academic sites to it, though I can't say for sure.

In a normal world I'd like to pop a 301 redirect on there: all that fabulous high ranking would flow to the new site and we'd be in business. Alas, the uni has an intermediate page (of the "You are now entering an area where opinions aren't necessarily the university's, etc etc" kind) and doesn't permit other redirects from staff accounts.

Given that we'd really like to hang onto that top Google position currently held by the old site if we can utilise that at all, what would you do?

Other pertinent details: The editor's pretty modest about the number of interested parties expected, so traffic following links may never count for much. Content's never going to change as (for now at least) it's just an information site (what the journal is, how to subscribe). Also the new domain is unfortunately an acronym.
posted by springbound to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Alas, the uni has an intermediate page (of the "You are now entering an area where opinions aren't necessarily the university's, etc etc" kind) and doesn't permit other redirects from staff accounts.
And that would be your problem - it's sort of a hard-wired NOFOLLOW tag that just ain't going to go away. My recommendation would be to make an effort to get keyword-based links with the journal name - like "Metafilter Quarterly Review" from contributor's blogs, MySpace pages, etc, and making sure that the TITLE and DESCRIPTION tags are search-engine friendly. You can also submit it to academic directories. It'll take some time, but it wil go up eventually.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 6:22 PM on September 21, 2008


(Shit, forget what I said about MySpace. Tom and his posse have implemented a site-wide NOFOLLOW.)
posted by beaucoupkevin at 6:27 PM on September 21, 2008


It would likely help if that little journal had a link to the new website; since it's got so much credibility, links from it would gain credibility as well, yes?
posted by davejay at 7:54 PM on September 21, 2008


I know you said neither 301 nor "any other" redirects, but I don't see why they wouldn't let you do it the old fashioned way and include a meta tag redirect in the header of the old site? Change the text of the old page to include a note about the site moving to the new location and a link to that new site, so that people will update their bookmarks/links if they have them*, and then auto forward to the new site after an appropriate time period. (I wouldn't do this if I saw any other way of overcoming your lack of real redirects, as it's kind of sloppy. But it works.)

That would give you both the outbound link from the old site, and would force any visitors to go to the new site. Use it as long as you need to, to give you the time to work on the SEO for the new site, like beaucoupkevin suggested. Once the new site is at the top of the search engines for the magazine name (however long that takes), remove the old page altogether so that it returns a 404 and gets removed from all indexes.

It takes a while to build a good web presence, but that might work as a short to medium term solution.

*If you don't know if any other sites are linking to the old location, I would suggest that you use the Google Webmasters service to check that. Verify that you are the owner of the old site, and Google will start feeding you stats on things like incoming links, the keywords people use to find it, etc. It will give you a lot of information that can be useful as you build the web presence of the new site.
posted by gemmy at 8:52 PM on September 21, 2008


I believe that google has webmaster tools that allow you to change a site (i.e. have the top result now be changed to the new url) if you can prove ownership (by embedding something in the page to prove you own it). I just used it for something else, and it is wonderful.
posted by ooklala at 9:02 PM on September 21, 2008


Thanks guys. ooklala, I'm looking into the webmaster tools you mention: if that works, that sounds awesome as a solution for saving our Google ranking! For all our non-googly problems (which basically amount to needing to redirect people following links to the old site), I guess a link of the "we've moved, click here if you're not automatically redirected within five seconds" (thanks gemmy, davejay!) oughta then do the trick. Thanks beaucoupkevin too for the ideas about submitting it to academic directories: I didn't know such things existed, and can no doubt hit up the editor for some advice on ones that are worth submitting to, so that's helpful also!

Thanks again guys for all your thoughts. :)
posted by springbound at 8:26 PM on September 22, 2008


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