I have a request from my client to merge the website. My client has two websites for running the same business but each one targets two different client group. But now it is time to merge both website. Let’s say, my client has ABC website and XYZ website. The client wants to merge XYZ website to ABC website. So at the end, he will have only ABC website. And he will take down XYZ website after merging is complete.
First, I copy all pages and posts from XYZ website to ABC websites. Of cause, I add each page and post as noindex by Yoast SEO plugin. This way, Google won’t index those pages and posts that I copy from XYZ website to avoid the duplicate content.
Because ABC website and XYZ website are not the same domain name. Meaning, I have to do 301 redirect (301 moved permanently). In case, if you have no plan to take down XYZ website, you can simple add the redirect code into htaccess file. In my case, the XYZ website will take down. So I will need to set 301 redirect via Google Search Console tool (changed from Google Webmaster Tool). In this post, I am sharing you how to move the site permanently and update Google.
Setup 301 redirects at Google Search Console
- First, we need to verify the ownership for both old and new website in Google Search Console
- To verify, open Google Search Console with your Google account.
- Next, you will see Welcome page and option to add your website URL. I choose URL prefix option. But if you like to choose another option, it is fine too.
- Enter your URL(include https:// and www if you have any) eg. https//:xyz.com we will need to verify both old and new URL. We will verify one by one.
- Now, you will see the popup to show the download file and where to put the file to your website that you are going to verify. Mostly, you will put the html file to your webroot (public_html or htdoc or etc..)
- You put the download file to you webroot via FTP login or File Manager at your cPanel
- Once the download file is added to your webroot. Then click on “VERIFY” button and wait for the result.
- Once the ownership verified is done. Click on “GO TO PROPERTY”.
- Finally, you will see your verified website on Google Search Console.
- Now, we verify the new website(XYZ.com). We are going to verify the old URL eg. https://ABC.com
- Important, you must use the same Google account for verify both websites.
- On the Google Search Console, click on “property” dropdown and click on “Add property” and follow the steps above to verify this one.
Set 301 Redirect on your old website
You can do three ways.
- add the redirect rules in htaccess file which you can find at your webroot. Learn how to add the redirect rule with example from wpbuffs-301 redirects htaccess
- Check your cPanel, some cPanel provides the redirect feature you. It is super easy to set. Follow this steps from NameCheap Knowledge base.
- Use 301 Redirects – Easy Redirect Manger Plugin Or Redirection plugin – For using those plugins, if you set the 301 redirect rules and you change the target URL for some reasons. Then new target URL won’t go to the new change. You may check the cache setting at plugin if the plugin has it. Basically, clear cache and don’t set any cache. Next, try to save the permalinks at Settings menu from WordPress dashboard to flush all URLs rule. These two tips should help you when you change the redirect URL and the system still remember the previous redirect rule setting.
Update Google – Let Google know your old site is moving to new site
Once 301 redirect is set. Make sure you set all URLs from old site to new site. You find the online tools to help you check eg. Redirect-Checker
When you click on “VALIDATE & UPDATE” button. Google will verify your 301 redirect for all URLs.
If some URLs won’t set 301 redirect, they will be listed. If you don’t mind to move those URLs to new site, you can ignore and click on “CONFIRM MOVE” button.
Once you confirm is done, you will see the notification from the screen says “This site is currently moving to New site“.
From Google help, you should maintain the redirect you set at least 180 days or longer if you still see any traffic to the old site from Google Search Console. Google recommends to pay for the old domain at least a year.
More detail can be found at Change of Address Tool section.
Useful Links for Google Search Console
- Managing properties and users on Search Console – Add new website property, remove a property, verify your site ownership and more.
I will come back to update this post from time to time since I just moved the site today.