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Change Domain Names

Sometimes you have to change your domain name. Usually this happens in M&A (mergers and acquisitions) cases. Although undesirable, there is a right way to do this, and many wrong ones. Typically both domains need to point to the same web site now that the merger occurred. The worst thing you can do is simply point both domains to the same content via DNS. This will result in search engines not knowing which is authoritative.

Many links have presumably built up over the years for both domain names, and a search engine will have considerable difficulty ascertaining which version to index. The result is a massive duplicate content problem. You could also take down the old domain, or put a page up on the old domain indicating to users that they should visit the new domain. Both of these methods avert the duplicate content penalty, but do not result in transference of link equity. The proper way to handle such a necessity is to use a 301 redirect to the new domain.

Simply place this in your .htaccess file:
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^old\.example\.com [OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www\.old\.example\.com
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [R=301,L]

This says that if a request for or comes in, it should be permanently redirected to, keeping all the query string parameters. Note the way the RewriteRule is only executed if one of the RewriteCond rules is satisfied.

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