Hiding From That Google Penalty? It May Find You At Your New Home

google-flyswatter-penalty-600Did you know that even if you try to run away from your Google penalty, it might end up finding you anyway? In a recent Google Webmaster Hangout, hosted by Google’s John Mueller, John said that even if you move your penalized site to a new domain name and don’t redirect the penalized site, Google may still find it and pass along the bad signals.

In the video, 23 minutes in, John answers my question about penalties following sites. He said that if the site is extremely similar and you simply move the site from domain A to domain B, that Google may pick up on the site move without you even giving them signals of the move. So even if you do not set up 301 redirects or use the change address tool in Google Webmaster Tools, Google may indeed know that you moved from domain A to domain B and pass along all the signals.

In that case, if a site is penalized, simply moving it to a new domain name might not be enough. You might have to go the extra mile and rebuild the site, content and user interfaces to convince Google it really is a new site.

Here is the video, again fast forward to about 23 minutes and 15 seconds in:

Yesterday Eric Ward wrote a piece for us named When The Best Move Is To Kill The Site, which covers what to do when your Google penalty is so severe that you can’t recover from it. Eric mentions that in about two-thirds of the cases he sees, he recommends you “kill” the site. Some may want to take shortcuts on “killing” a site by just migrating it to a new domain name, but that might not work.

Based on the feedback from this news, I’ve heard three responses from the SEO community:

  • Google is a liar and it does not pass either positive or negative signals when there are no redirects or change of address requests made.
  • Yes, Google does pass the penalties in these cases, Google is telling the truth.
  • Not only does the penalty pass but sometimes you will see the links from the old domain show in the new domain show up in the new verified section within Google Webmaster Tools.

What is your experience with site moves without changing the site design, content or structure and while not using redirects or other signals to communicate the penalized site has moved?

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Penalties | Google: SEO | Top News


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.

Comments are closed.

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!



Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide