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At the end of October 2016 I switched our hosting to managed WordPress from Linux hosting, which was under hosted under example.ca, but had example.com as primary domain. There was never any content on the .ca website, however I believe there was an hardcoded 301 redirect from the .ca to the .com website

I was recommended to put domain forwarding on the .ca domain as we still own it when we transitioned to the new managed WordPress hosting and I assumed it was of no harm considering it would just forward .ca to .com if anyone were to type in example.ca

However this is the issue I am having:

  • Search results in Canada started to show .ca instead of .com . The site forwards fine to the .com however I never wanted the .ca to show up in search results and am unsure as to why it has since there is no content on the .ca and never has been

  • We have dropped a few rankings for our main keywords in Google Canada because it is showing .ca instead of .com

  • We used to have a larger Google Snippet/Site Links in Canada search results that took up a few lines and made us more prominent now we do not since it is showing results for example.ca

I was wondering if this is just a temporary effect while Google "sorts stuff out" or if I could use Google Domain Change from example.ca to example.com as a solution. I am hesitant use the domain change or make any major changes as I do not want the .ca to drop off and not be replaced by the .com.

Have you encountered anything like this or know of a solution? Would using the change domain tool work if I told Google that example.ca is now example.com even though I have never had content on the .ca?

Would there be any harm in trying the Google Change of Domain method?

  • "outdated Linux hosting"???? – Steve Jan 9 '17 at 20:58
  • I was told that it was an older version of Linux we using, but not important to issue thanks for bringing that to my attention I edited it out. – jenna Jan 9 '17 at 21:08
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Domain forwarding usually comes in one of three flavors:

  • 301 permanent redirects
  • 302 temporary redirects
  • Framed redirects

It sounds to me like your .ca domain used to be a 301 redirect but the new forwarding option you chose may be a 302 redirect. Google sometimes indexes redirecting URLs when they use a temporary redirect status. Change it back to a 301 and it should fall out of Google index.

You don't want to use change of domain because you never actually had content on that domain. In any case, you have to implement 301 permanent redirects before doing so.

  • Domain forwarding usually comes in one of three flavors: You have far more of them nowadays, like 303, 307 or 308 also. See this overview: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/URL_redirection#HTTP_status_codes_3xx. It is true that 301/302 are the most used/popular, but just because they are the oldest ones. – Patrick Mevzek Aug 1 '18 at 17:08
  • There could also be meta refresh or javascript powered redirects but those are also less common for domain forwarding purposes. – Stephen Ostermiller Aug 1 '18 at 17:57

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