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For legal reasons I had to change my business name, and get a new site name and address (very long story).

I had to forward my old domain to this new one, but the old domain has like 200+ back-links, and the new site has zero. How does this impact SEO and what do I do in a situation like this? Do I start from scratch, or is there a way to capitalize on those back-links on the old domain name?

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There is an option in Google Webmaster tool called "Change of address". You should use that option. Here you can find more details: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/83106?hl=en

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If you had done 301 redirects, some of the link juice of those links is passed to the new domain. However the best practice is to try to get in touch with the websites linking to your old domain and ask them if they could change the href to the new domain.

Also do the suggested above and tell Google that your domain changed.

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