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I have a website with a domain of www.mysite.com for example and I wish to redirect some of it's content to a new version that is under development under a sub domain i.e everything under www.mysite.com/specific-section now goes to beta.mysite.com/specific-section. In the long term the code in the beta site will replace the code main www site at which point the beta site will be closed and the redirects from the www site will be removed.
Using a 302 redirect seems like the right idea in this situation but as I am no SEO expert I wanted to get some feedback.

Can I avoid the beta site from being indexed by various search engines? I am aware they all handle 301s and 302s in slightly different ways.
When the beta domain is removed should it disappear from search engine results?
An alternative that has been suggested is to make it a 301 redirect and when the beta site in no longer require to perform a 301 redirect back to the www site. Is this an option is will this cause SEO pain?

Edit: I have amended the question a little as I don't think I explained myself too clearly. The beta site it temporary and will eventually be removed. the www site is and always will be the main site.

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1 Answer 1

If the current live site is still up and running I wouldn't even have the beta domain indexed by the search engines at all. Messing with redirects, especially double redirects, can get messy and potentially be problematic. When you make the transition over to the new website you're going to have enough work to do when you make redirects from the old URLs to the new URLs and have to deal with a temporary drop in rankings. I wouldn't want it to be any more complex then that.

My advice would be to block the beta version from the search engines completely by using a robots.txt file and/or the robots meta tag/x-robots HTTP header. Then when it goes live do 301 redirects from the old URLs to the new URLs. It's the simplest way to do it and also the least prone to problems.

If the beta subdomain is the live website I would do a 307 redirect which is a temporary redirect. That will tell the search engines that the beta URLs are temporary and the old ones will be returning soon (although possibly under a new URL but a 301 redirect will take care of that).

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thank you for the detailed answer. Is issuing a 307 from the www site better than a 302 with regards to search engines indexing the site? Will this always be understood to be a temporary redirect? –  Andy Rose Jul 21 '11 at 15:19
    
Google does recognize it as a temporary redirect as they do honor HTTP headers for their meaning. A few years ago someone I know set up a 307 redirect to demonstrate how Google keeps coming back at regular intervals to check the status of the page. It worked as expected. –  John Conde Jul 21 '11 at 15:35
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