Migrate domains

How can I migrate domain content with .htaccess?

Description of the problem:

You have an old website that is accessible under olddomain.com and you have a new website that is accessible under newdomain.com . Copying the content of the old website to the new website is the first step – but what comes after that?
You should do a 301 moved permanently redirect from the old domain to the new domain – which is easy and has some advantages:

  • Users will automatically be redirected to the new domain – you don’t have to inform them.
  • Also search engines will be redirected to the new domain – and all related information will be moved to the new domain (but this might take some time).
  • Google’s PageRankTM will be transfered to the new domain, also other internal information that is being used to set the position of pages in the search engine result pages (serp’s) – like TrustRank .


Do a 301 redirect for all http requests that are going to the old domain.

Example 1 – Redirect from olddomain.com to www.newdomain.com

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !newdomain.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.newdomain.com/$1 [L,R=301]

This is useful when you use www.newdomain.com as your new domain name (see also this article about redirecting www and non-www domains). If not – use the code of example 2.

Example 2 – Redirect from olddomain.com to newdomain.com

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !newdomain.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://newdomain.com/$1 [L,R=301]

Explanation of the .htaccess 301 redirect

What does this code above do?

Let’s have a look at the example 1 – Redirect olddomain.com to www.newdomain.com. The first two lines just say apache to handle the current directory and start the rewrite module.

The next line RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !newdomain.com$ specifies that the next rule only fires when the http host (that means the domain of the queried url) is not (- specified with the “!”) newdomain.com. The $ means that the host ends with newdomain.com – and the result isĀ  that all pages from newdomain.com will trigger the following rewrite rule. Combined with the inversive “!” is the result every host that is not newdomain.com will be redirected to this domain. The [NC] specifies that the http host is case insensitive.
The escapes the “.” – becaues this is a special character (normally, the dot (.) means that one character is unspecified).

The next – and final – line describes the action that should be executed: RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.newdomain.com/$1 [L,R=301]. The ^(.*)$ is a little magic trick. Can you remember the meaning of the dot? If not – this can be any character(but only one). So .* means that you can have a lot of characters, not only one. This is what we need – because this ^(.*)$ contains the requested url, without the domain. The next part http://www.newdomain.com/$1 describes the target of the rewrite rule – this is our “final”, used domain name, where $1 contains the content of the (.*). The next part is also important, since it does the 301 redirect for us automatically: [L,R=301]. L means this is the last rule in this run – so after this rewrite the webserver will return a result. The R=301 means that the webserver returns a 301 moved permanently to the requesting browser or search engine.