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From what I understand if I setup a 301 redirect for:

www.joe.com > www.bill.com

Then when people navigate to www.joe.com they will be sent to www.bill.com.

This also allows search engines to transfer the page rank.

My question is what about people who find my company via typing it into search engines, since currently if they typed in 'Joe', www.joe.com would be the first result.

Am I right in thinking if search engines remove my old site from the index and people then search for 'Joe' then they will have no way of finding my new site? In this case of business name change and domain name change would it be better to not 301 redirect and instead direct users to the new site by clicking a link on the old site?

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I don't think you have any option but to implement a 301 redirect from the old to the new domain. This is mandatory in order to preserve the SEO from the old site/domain. If you don't then you are essentially starting from the beginning in terms of SEO.

In this case, where the company has been rebranded and you still want to retain ranking for the old name (understandably) then I would create an article (linked from the home page - and include the old name in the link) on the new site explaining the brand name change and, importantly, include the old name prominently in the content. Once this gets indexed (and providing the old name was sufficiently unique) then you should still get found in the search engines for the old name.

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