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I'm the webmaster for a university club, with a convoluted (far from root-level) .ac.uk domain, and our own .co.uk domain.

We purchased the .co.uk domain for cleaner URLs, and I set the given .ac.uk to 301 permanent redirect to this new domain.

However - I just noticed that the .ac.uk domain is getting much better SEO; I can't find our 'real' domain at all even when searching explicitly for "name of club" (we have nameofclub.co.uk). The .ac.uk on the other hand comes #1, or at least first page, for most targeted searches.

The domain isn't totally new - a week or two old, and it was ranking better a week ago.

I'm concerned that it's been demoted because Google thinks the .ac.uk is "more legit", more established, and that the .co.uk is ripping off it. But I hoped the 301 would trump all that.

Both domains have identical sitemaps at /sitemap.xml, both with absolute locations given for the preferred .co.uk domain.

What should I further do to assert the preference of the nameofclub.co.uk domain in search results?

  • I should add that although it doesn't matter per se, since it's going to end up in the same place, it's preferable to me to have the 'real' URL listed in search, and to have it all in one place in WMT. – OJFord Oct 11 '14 at 3:11
  • Use a blanket 301 from old domain to new. Do not have a sitemap on the old domain. It can take months before search performance changes so be patient. – closetnoc Oct 11 '14 at 3:43
  • Regarding patience, it's the fact that it got worse that's concerning me. – OJFord Oct 11 '14 at 12:19
  • You cannot measure search performance day by day or even week by week. Search performance cycles especially when changes are made. Search engines are notoriously slow and some sites take as much as a year to really settle in to where they should be performing. It will all work out if you did the 301 correctly. It will just take time. – closetnoc Oct 11 '14 at 15:42
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Some things you can do:

a. 301 redirect all URLs, so that .ac.uk/anything goes to .co.uk/anything (yes, including /sitemap.xml, /robots.txt, etc. The one exception could be your Google Webmaster verification file, but it's probably easier to handle verification through DNS in this case).

b. Use Google Webmaster Change of Address tool

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c. Try to change as many existing links to .ac.uk into links to .co.uk. First handle links you can change yourself, then contact the most important other websites with links to your site and ask them if they can change the link.

d. Be patient. It will take time.

It's important the 301 redirects keep on working for the next decade or so. Don't let the original domain name slip, as it will send link juice for a long time to come. As part of answering this question I just checked a website that I moved a couple of years ago and found out the 301s I set up had stopped working. The site was still showing up with 13 pages in Google (according to a site: query), even though there was only one (generic) page on the domain.

  • Thanks! a. I should have been clear - I am doing this already. b. "Restricted to root level domains only". c. That's a good point - unfortunately some will be impossible to change due to policy. d. The thing is, it was better a week or so ago when I bought it, and it's slipped since. – OJFord Oct 11 '14 at 14:21

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