I registered a domain and built a site on it. I didn't realize that the domain had a previous owner who 301 redirected the entire domain to another domain of his.

I have this domain listed in my webmaster search console.

Google mobile friendly test loads the page successfully and shows the result.

Google won't crawl the site because of the past 301, and it won't index it either. It's been a few months and still no index. You could say that maybe Google just doesn't like my site but all of my other sites get crawled and indexing so I'm sure that the 301 redirect is the problem.

Most of the URLs that I put on the domain are in directories that didn't exist with the previous owner.

For the past couple of months, when I searched Google for site:example.com it showed the domain that it was redirected to by the previous owner and not my own site. Now when I search for site:example.com it just shows no results.

Is there a way that I can undo the 301 set by the previous owner or do I have no choice but do drop this domain and put it on a completely different domain altogether?

(This post was inspired by this thread where the OP had a client who got hacked and his server was redirected. "How can I redirect a specific series of URLS to 410 redirects")

If there is no way to undo the redirect and I'm forced to change domains, what happens if someone were to hack a domain and 301 the entire site to another domain? Is there no way to undo that with Google?

  • 1
    301 redirects are done in the server. If you can get to your site via the domain name, then there is nothing to fix. Any domain that been dormant will take quite a bit of time to recover. Each domain name has metrics assigned to them one of which is a TTL of metric that indicates how often it should be crawled. Dormant domains will suffer for a while until this metric changes. This only happens over a long period. Have you tried Fetch as Google in Search Console?
    – closetnoc
    Mar 12 '18 at 1:13
  • 2
    Your title says that Google won't crawl the domain but you only provide evidence that Google isn't indexing the domain. Can you check your server logs and see if Googlebot is crawling? My guess is that it is getting crawled, but Google is choosing not to index it. Mar 12 '18 at 10:07
  • "got hacked and his server was redirected" - FWIW, the linked question has nothing to do with external "redirects". There's nothing to suggest the server was "redirected". The use of the term "redirect" in the question is arguably erroneous (it would have been an internal rewrite, not an external redirect) and use of the term "redirect" in the title is just an unfortunate turn of phrase (again, it's not an external redirect, but an internal subrequest).
    – MrWhite
    Mar 12 '18 at 10:34
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    "when I searched Google for site:example.com it showed the domain that it was redirected to" - Something a bit odd there? I have never seen a site:example.com search that returned results from a different domain (even for 301 redirects). With regards to (301) redirects, you might see a site: search return the source URL (on the domain specified) - even though it is redirected and wouldn't ordinarily be returned in a normal search. You wouldn't expect to see the target URL, unless it was also on the same domain.
    – MrWhite
    Mar 12 '18 at 10:45
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    How do you know the domain was previously 301 redirected? How do you know that your new URLs "didn't exist with the previous owner"? But if they didn't exist previously then it's certainly not a 301 redirect issue - as these "new" URL "redirects" could not possibly have been cached by Google. Whilst there might have previously been a site-wide redirect, it is individual URLs that are actually redirected, not the domain as a single entity.
    – MrWhite
    Mar 12 '18 at 10:55

I don't think this is related to 301 redirects (reasons mentioned in comments). However, (and this is a bit speculative), if the previous site owner had used the change of address tool in GSC then this "remains in effect for 180 days" so could potentially interfere with indexing in the short term.

However, if this is the case, then you should be able to see this in GSC and "Withdraw a change of address" as stated in the Google docs:

Withdraw a change of address

If you or another verified owner have incorrectly indicated a change of address for your site, you can withdraw that request after it has been made. When you withdraw a change of address, it stops the process of updating URLs for your old site.

To withdraw an address change: Select your original site from the site selector. You'll see the Change of address steps listed as completed. At the bottom of that screen, click Withdraw.

Having said that, I wouldn't expect the previous owner to still be verified (although it can take some time for Google to unverify users, since this is only checked periodically), in which case I wouldn't expect a "change of address" that was initiated by the previous owner to still be valid. (You should also be able to check if there are any other verified users in GSC.)


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