The greatest worry when moving a domain is the adverse affect it will have on website ranking. Launching a new site and facing branding, SEO, traffic and conversion challenges, is scary. It takes time and an enormous amount of effort and planning. However, moving an established site may be even scarier! As Mike Grehan, from ClickZ Experts, states:
“Think about it. You’ve been online for a long time and built a great reputation for yourself. Search engine crawlers and end users love you. Both are frequent visitors to your site. What’s more, other Web site owners think you truly are the real deal and bless you with link love in abundance.
Then, word comes from above (that’s corporate, not heaven, by the way) that you’re being acquired, merging, rebranding, or whatever. Now you, as Webmaster, are gifted with a new domain to move to…
What if it all goes horrendously wrong, and you drop of search engine heaven straight into search engine hell?”
No matter the size of your site, or whether you’ve ever achieved top search engine ranking, moving domains could simply reverse all the good work you’ve put into your online marketing. Not so, Mike assures us, as a simple redirect could be the answer to all your problems!
There are several methods of redirecting your site:
permanent – Returns a permanent redirect status (301) indicating that the resource has moved permanently.
temporary – Returns a temporary redirect status (302). This is the Google default.
seeother – Returns a “See Other” status (303) indicating that the resource has been replaced.
gone - Returns a “Gone” status (410) indicating that the resource has been permanently removed.
Although, only the (301) permanent redirect is recommended by Google. Google Webmaster Help provides advice on implementing redirects, as well as advising you check out which websites link to yours, in order to inform them of your domain name change.
By following Google’s redirect guidelines and creating a sitemap, you can minimize the impact of a URL change. Mike also recommends an interim pay-per-click campaign as a great way to start driving traffic volumes to your new domain. It is highly recommended that, as with any ‘back-end’ changes to your website, you get a professional’s advice – or even better, get a professional to do the job and assure yourself peace of mind!