Consolidated two websites on December 9, 2013; a site wide page-to-page 301 redirect was implemented which redirects site A to site B

Website A (the one being redirected) is:

  • Still showing up in Google search results (the link properly 301 redirects to the new site)
  • Still showing up in our site B Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) site links report as a top source of inbound links

I don't know how to "jog" Google into recognizing that this site is gone; we do still have site B


  • Site A still has a GWT entry, deleting this might help
  • We could turn off the redirects...

Any other suggestions/answers?


I disabled the redirects, used the Change of Address tool and then reactivated the 301s

The index for the nonexistent site is continuing to drop at a pretty steady pace (no indication that the Change of Address tool helped or hindered)

Now if only I could get them to remove mention of the "links" from the nonexistent site to the main site in the main site's "Links to your site" report

Considering disabling the redirects and allowing the old site to be truly "gone"

  • 1
    Have you confirmed they are actually 301 redirects? Sounds obvious, but I have lost count the amount of times developers have implemented 301 redirects, only to be found to be 302 redirects on further investigation.
    – Max
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 23:31
  • Hi, yes confirmed but thanks I too have found this in the past :)
    – Drewdavid
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 20:06
  • Old question, but in what search results were these URLs appearing in? What were you searching for? If you were doing a site: search, then that might have been the "problem". A site search is quite different and can/will return URLs that are otherwise redirected, that would not appear in "normal" search results.
    – MrWhite
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 11:32

5 Answers 5


Create a sitemap for the old website and submit it to Google.

In that way the GoogleBot is forced to visit the content of your site and update the index accordingly.

It will then find your 301s or your 404s and remove them in due course of time.


Using change address in Google webmasters should reflect this. Also have you submitted the new sitemap XML from the new domain. Lastly I would try doing a Fetch as Google from the new domain. Full details present here https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/83105?hl=en

  • Thanks for sharing this, I didn't know about this tool. One factor is that since we have already done the sitewide 301 the old domain is no longer verified in GWT; would need to turn off the redirects, re-verify, run the tool, then 301 again. Will consider this option :)
    – Drewdavid
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 18:10
  • I have had to do this in the past, simply turn them off and re-verify, tell Google the domain has moved and turned the redirects back on. Worked fine.
    – Max
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 23:32

Google states the following with regard to redirects:

If you do a site: search for a page that is redirected, you'll see the redirected URL in the results. This is normal. For example, say that www.example.com has been redirected to www.redirectedexample.com. Doing a search for site:www.example.com will return results from www.redirectedexample.com. Redirects like this don't affect your page rankings.

See in full at:


However, I've had 301 redirects set up for one of my sites when I moved and re-branded it. I was moving because I didn't think I could use AdSense on my site with it on an OpenShift free web hosting service. Research told me that since I was a subdomain of rhcloud.com, I was affected by anyone that had hosted "bad" sites under that domain. I researched this when I tried to sign up and got no response to the AdSense registration. The subdomain also prevented me from using the "Change of address" tool that Google provides as you aren't allowed to use that tool to move from a subdomain to a non-subdomain.

Anyway, to check your 301 redirects, there are websites that will do this for you for free. You should double check that your 301s are set up correctly. Here is one I used to verify mine were working:


I would say it worked well, but when I put 'site:myoldsubdomain.rhcloud.com' into Google and Google still shows the old subdomain almost two months later, I'm not sure what to think.

Regards, Jagger

  • Hi, thanks for sharing your experience and the links :)
    – Drewdavid
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 17:26

In your case, the 301 redirects are keeping the original domain alive as far a Google is concerned. If you want it to be dropped from the index, then you have to remove the 301 redirects.

However, I do make this warning. Anyone who is referencing the old domain will receive an error if you remove the redirects. The 301 redirects allowed anyone with the old domain name to still find your content. But if it is a priority to drop the old domain and you are not worried about anyone who is referencing your old site, then you will want to remove the 301 redirects.

Removing the 301 redirects will cause 404 errors providing that the pages are removed from the old domain. Allowing the old site to 404 will eventually drop it from Google's index. A 410 error is better however but may not be necessary. A 404 error means that Google will retry for a number of times before it drops any page. It will access, error, then drop pages one at a time until done. A 410 error tells Google that the page is gone. Google will not retry to access the page and will immediately drop it from the index. Breaking the domain name / IP address will be something like a 404 in that for a period, Google will try and access the domain. If after a period or a number of retries the domain is still not available, it will be dropped from the index completely.

If you wish to drop the 301 redirects in preparation to deleting the domain, I would actually just break the domain IP address and let the chips fall where they may. It may sound brutal, but pulling off the bandage quickly sometimes is the least painful.

  • Thanks, appreciate you unpacking this scenario for me; will consider this as a likely option for us at this point for the reason mentioned in my comment to user1807608
    – Drewdavid
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 18:11
  • 2
    Im not sure this is 100% accurate. If there are 301 redirects set, then the URLs should drop out of Google, just as they would if they were 404 pages. Also if you remove the 301 redirects then any link weight from the old domain will be lost and you could potentially see a huge drop in rankings on the new domain.
    – Max
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 23:29
  • The URL stays alive as long as the 301 exists. This is exactly how the link juice remains. However, the target of the 301 is seen as more important in the SERPs. You have to think of SEO as two parts. Part 1 is the domain metrics, and part 2 is the SERPs. The two never cross. In the SERPs the old URL drops in relevance and the target of the 301 increases proportionally. It may be that the original URL may or may never show up in the SERPs, but it remains in the index while the 301 remains. I have about 280,000 301 redirects out there that I am about ready to drop with 50,000 in the SERPs.
    – closetnoc
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 0:46

I feel like I am misunderstanding something, but if I am actually understanding the issue, it seems like two tools would completely solve the problem. (Leave the 301s in place.)

Create a robots.txt and disallow all indexing and crawling on the old site.

In Webmaster Tools, click Google Index/Remove URLs. Enter the domain name of the old site. It will ask you if you want to remove the entire directory, you say yes.

My gut tells me that I am overlooking something obvious, however, so I apologize in advance if I missed something.

  • Thanks for the comment, I'll look into this. The robots.txt move won't be possible because the sites are now gone, but I will explore removing the URLs from the G index.
    – Drewdavid
    Commented Jan 7, 2015 at 17:57

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