I'd greatly appreciate a response on the following question relating to site migration and SEO impact. Here's some background on how my domain name and site is currently configured:

My domain name provider has the following settings:

  • host name @ is an A NAME record and points to IP address x.x.x.x
  • host name www is an A NAME record and points to IP address x.x.x.x
  • sub-domain host name new.example.com is an A NAME record and points to IP address x.x.x.x

My hosting provider has the following settings:

  • host record @ is an A NAME record and points to IP address x.x.x.x, folder home/public_html/old
  • host record www is a C NAME record and points to example.com
  • sub-domain host record new.example.com points to home/public_html/new

I want to:

  • point the domain (example.com AND www.example.com) to the content hosted under folder home/public_html/new, which is currently the content directory for new.example.com
  • retire the content hosted under folder home/public_html/old
  • retire the sub-domain host record new.example.com

I believe the easiest method of doing this, is: removing the sub-domain host record new.example.com; and changing the following line in the .htaccess file in home/public_html from

# Change 'subdirectory' to be the directory you will use for your main domain.
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^/old/


# Change 'subdirectory' to be the directory you will use for your main domain.
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^/new/

But I don't understand how this will impact my SERP - ideally, I'd like it to remain the same.

Research on this topic resulted in the following Google page, which was no help, and this related StackExchange question, which suggests that this should not affect my SERP (at least, not permanently). But I wanted to make certain with a more specific example, and hopefully contribute to the community at the same time.

I'd appreciate any feedback on this. Is there a better/recommended method to migrate sites this way? Is there an SEO impact?

  • 1
    If I were in your shoes, I would use 301 redirect. Jul 8, 2013 at 9:27

4 Answers 4


Changing to a sub domain will of course have an impact on your current rankings and you will see a drop but of course your website will shoot back up again.

Make sure you 301 redirect from your root domain to your sub domain but make sure it is not all pointed to one page e.g just the homepage, so if you have a gallery page onsite or a blog then 301 direct to these pages aswell.

Make sure you 301 redirect correctly though as this will cause issues if not done correctly and that's when things start to break.


It looks like the rewrite rules will just serve the same content (or newer versions of the same content) from a different directory. If this is the case, then search engines will see any updates you have made to the content. Updating content is not something that you generally have to worry much about from an SEO perspective.

When you retire new.example.com you should 301 redirect it to the main site.

Any time you make site updates it is wise to do some SEO quality assurance to make sure that nothing major changed that you aren't expecting:

  • URLs - Check the server logs for 404 errors and unexpected redirects
  • Page titles - Ensure that your top pages still have the same title (and meta description)
  • Links - Run a link checker or do some thorough clicking around on the site.

Any change will have any impact.

Expect about a 10% change or less if you have good rules.

  • 1
    Can you give a bit more info here? Maybe some resources to back up your answer? Oct 24, 2014 at 11:01

Sub domains are considered as separate and totally different domains in the eyes of Google. The SEO impact of this is that it will be like you are migrating to a new domain name. Any way you do this, you will lose a little of the authority (PageRank) on the other end. Same with 301 redirects.


So, we know you are going to lose a little, which is fine. You will probably not notice. What you need to be concerned with are general SEO best practices. Treat this like a real site migration.

Map out all of your current URLs. Redirect each URL example.com/widget/ to it's new home whatever.example.com/widget/ with a 301 redirect. Do not just redirect all old URLs to the root, or one page. You have to redirect each old page to the new page at it's new home.

I would stay put at your new location and not continue to move around. I did an SEO audit this past year where a very large company did exactly what you did, over and over. At some point, it will affect your rank more severely.

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