Often times this is the case with many businesses. They are not satisfied with their original name, and they want to move. Some people think that moving to a new domain can cause in huge ranking loss while others think it kills traffic. Well I will ask one question, when you move to a new house do you lose everything? Does your relatives stop coming to your house?
Obviously not because you make sure everything gets in the truck that you rented to move. You pack everything. Before you move, you check the other house that everything is fine, and your life will be great there. You give your relatives your new address and directions, so they can still visit you. Well moving to a new domain works along the same line. I am not saying that it is easy because you all know that moving is a pain in real life, and even online. But I can help you maintain the same search engine rankings and traffic if you ever decide to move to a new domain.
Acquire your new location
You can’t move into a house without signing a contract, or lease of a kind. You must make sure that you buy the house before you move in. Just like that you must make sure that you register the new domain before hands. Why do I say that. Well because I know most people are very indecisive when picking new domains. So think of it like moving your real business. Do you stay indecisive when you are moving to your new house. Which house you want to move until the last day? I am pretty sure people don’t do that. They make plans ahead of time. They buy one house that they want, and then plan the moving date. So register the domain of your choice and take the next step.
Decide Moving Date and Prepare to move
Ok so the next step is decide a moving date. You can’t just have a house, and have no plan. Moving is such a painful and complicated process that if you don’t plan it. You will mess up. So plan a date when you want to move, so you are ready. When I say you are ready, I mean a date when you have nothing else to do but this, so moving can be quick and efficient.
Before you move in the new house, you have to go and make sure everything looks fine. You paint the walls maybe add some light bulbs etc. Just like that when you move to a new domain online, you need to make sure all the online requirements such as hosting are taken care of. You have a new design ready and everything.
Pack up and Move already
Packing up is a pain in real life. You have to organize everything. Kitchen utencils on one place, while decorations on another. Well websites are a bit easier then that. You have everything organized already. And the best thing about websites are that you don’t have to leave your old place to have a new place occupied. You can just copy and everything and paste it to the new location.
So make sure you have your web design and everything ready. Make a copy of it and move to a new location. So I am saying don’t leave your old location yet.
If you are going to use a same design, at least change the logo although I prefer you get a new design. Make sure you change all the urls to point to the new domain instead of the old domain. Make sure you keep all the pages and paths similar to your old website because otherwise it will be a lot of work for you.
Redirect your traffic
Once you have fully moved and you are ready to announce it. Well then announce it already. Let all your relatives know and everyone that you moved into a new house, so they can visit you. In old days people used to have a landing page saying We’ve moved, please visit us here. Which is pretty lame in my opinion, so lets just use the redirect method where your user will automatically land on your new page if they type your old domain.
If you followed my direction and kept the same path and file names then you can use the 301 redirect method:
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.newdomain.com/$1 [R=301,L]
But if you decide to move and change your locations around, you are making your life a living hell because depend on how many page you have, you would have to individually redirect them.
Redirect 301 /oldpage.htm http://www.site.com/page.htm
If you were wondering where you put these codes, you put them in .htaccess file in your public_html directory.
Keeping your Search Engine Rankings (SERPs)
We are at a tough road here. A danger zone because most people think they lose their rankings. Because people don’t know about their new locations, so they lose business. But these effects are short term because I am sure you are advertising yourself that you have moved. Meaning now you are advertising your new url.
Search Engines are bit dumber then real people, so they need extra notification. That is why we are using 301 redirects above. Basically what that does for you is transfer all the link juice / link value from your old domain to a new domain. It can take anywhere from weeks to months for the link juice to be entirely transferred so be patient because it will transfer.
Keep your Old Location
As I mentioned above that being online makes it easy for us to keep our files on two separate locations. But I am not even saying that keep your files on other site as well. Just keep the domain, so the 301 redirect keep working. Google actually recommends you to keep the old domain for about 180 days, so you avoid confusion. I think keeping it forever is not very expensive. You are just paying $7 extra for registration fee. I think it is well worth it because you don’t know what people type. Also don’t forget that you have backlinks from so many other sites that haven’t changed the url to a new url. So you will lose all that traffic. So it is best to keep the old domain.
Bang Bang Advertisement – Get the words out
Let people know that you have moved. People used to know you with a different name, so you need to brand your new name even more, so when people remember you they remember your new name not your old one. So get on with advertising. You can use Yahoo Site Explorer to see your backlinks and then ask them to change it to your new site. Most will, but some won’t but this is a step toward making the link juice transfer part faster.