During the Q&A portion of the 09/17/2021 John Mueller hangout, one webmaster asked John about the context of a site migration and Google’s change of address tool.
The webmaster explained they did everything according to all migration requirements and recommendations. They updated redirects, canonical tags, and tested things before they fully launched the new migration. And, of course, they added the new property—they did everything.
However, they were unable to get the change of address to work. There was a validation error, a 301 redirect where it couldn’t fetch the old domain.
The webmaster wondered how they can pass validation for this tool, especially since they did everything they were supposed to.
John explained that this tool is simply a signal that Google uses with respect to migrations. This tool is not a requirement.
If you can’t get the change of address to work and you have everything set up properly, you’ve done all you can do.
You don’t absolutely have to implement the change of address tool as part of your migration.
This conversation occurs at approximately the 20:39 mark in the video.
John Mueller 09/17/2021 Hangout Transcript
Sure. Cool. Okay. Let me go through some of the submitted questions. And then I’ll get back to the folks that have their hands raised here as well. Don’t worry, well, we’ll find time. Let’s see. The first one I have is a domain site migration. We did a site migration from one domain to a new one, following all migration requirements and recommendations.
We updated redirects, canonical tags, and tested beforehand. We added the new property, all of these things, but we can’t get the change of address to work. It has a validation error, saying that there’s a 301 redirect where it can’t fetch the old domain. How do we pass the validation for a change of address tool?
John 21:29 (Answer)
So I think, first of all, the most important thing to keep in mind is that the change of address tool is just one extra signal that we use with regards to migrations. It’s not a requirement. So if for whatever reason, you can’t get the change of address tool to work for your website, if you have the redirects set up properly, all of those things, then you should be set.
It’s not something that you absolutely need to do. I imagine most sites, when they do these kinds of moves, don’t actually use this tool. It’s something more for those who know about Search Console, and those who know about all of these kinds of fancy things, they might be using it.
With regards to why it might be failing, it’s really hard to say without knowing your site’s name or the URLs that you’re kind of testing there. One thing that, that I have seen is, if you do something, like if you have a www version and a non-www version of your website, and you redirect step by step through that. So for example, you redirect to the non-www version, and then you redirect to the new domain.
And then that can happen that throws us off, if you submit the change of address in the version of the site, that is not kind of the primary version. So that might be one thing to double-check. With regards to the change of address tool, are you submitting the version that is or that was currently indexed?
Or are you maybe submitting the alternate version in Search Console? But otherwise, I’m not aware of any general issues with that tool. So if you want to send me your domain name, or your site name, I’m happy to double-check.
Probably also just posting in the Help Forum, we’ll also get you some feedback on what you might be doing kind of differently than what the tool would expect.