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I had an application on a domain while it was in development, for around one year. During that time content grew steadily but the application was buggy and google found plenty of errors.

Four months ago I moved the complete application to a new domain but I did not use google webmaster tools to change the address. Recently I have started to do well for my main keyword and decided that I would 'move' the old domain to the new, in order to give the site increased age.

Today I find myself dropped from position 18 to 34 for my keyword which is rather disappointing to say the least.

Not having changed anything else, can anyone envisage my being penalised for this change of address. Should I cancel the request or might it fix itself?

Advice is appreciated.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Did you do 301 redirects for all of your pages? This is necessary to tell Google where to find the new pages since they all moved. It also transfers over incoming links and PR from the old pages to the new which is very important. This snippet in an .htaccess file should do the trick:

Options +FollowSymlinks
RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^(www\.)?olddomain\.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.newdomain.com/$1 [R=301,L]

It's hard to say how long it will take for this to get your site back up in the SERPs since it varies for every website.

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Thanks for your answer. I have 301's in place so wouldn't expect any interim drop. Looking again at google I find my position restored but I'm still worried that maybe I previously glimpsed a new index yet to propagate to all of google. – mark May 27 '11 at 15:01
When making changes like you did there's always a brief fluctuation in rankings immediately after the change. I would expect everything to return to normal in a reasonable (<-- intentionally vague) amount of time. – John Conde May 27 '11 at 15:11
Thanks John, you've been very helpful yet again. I'll report back how this goes but for now I am back where I was. – mark May 27 '11 at 15:20
So to update my experience of this. I found that eventually I did lose serp by about 20 places. I removed the change of address and a few days later I was back to where I was. This may be due to a large number of indexed addresses on the old domain which simply did not exist on the new. Also 500's during development might have meant I was penalised. – mark Jun 7 '11 at 10:34

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