10 things you should do if switching to a new domain name
There were days when only .com .net and .org were available. And really good names available with exact match or the next best one because if low internet penetration and prices being very high approx US$80 for a year.
.com was a norm if .org was bought it was considered of an NGO and not a business and it grew to the pint 250+ characters domain name were allowed… hey great for SEO work where a long tail keyword set could be woven in a single domain name giving it relevance. But over time search engines realized it was more misused and user experience had depreciated because of these domain coming up on top with just doorway pages and no real content.
With the opening up of Gtld’s which were geographic in nature like .in, co.uk,. com.cn .us and now each country on the globe has one followed by recent introduction of niche domain names the list is long and ever growing.
A company who earlier had a compromised long domain name now can get an exact match which is better for their brands.
As part of search engine ranking algorithm domain name age is also a crucial factor in ranking. The Link Juice which is essentially good high quality back links are associated with the old domain name.
The worry of the webmaster is Will I lose all the credibility I got for the old site over years when switching to the new domain name ?
- Check domain history of the new domain name.
chances are it might be a new but always good to check WHOIS and waybachmachine to check any history of spamming and blocking by google.
- Take full backup of your website so in an event of files not transferred you don’t lose critical data. In Cpanel there is an option for full backup which you can download and keep on a remote computer to access even if old hosting account is deleted.
- Don’t delete the old site if you can. Even if the old site is not working you can keep it on the net accessible via a hosts file in your windows computer c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc file name is “hosts” you just have to make an entry of the domain name with its IP address and without any one accessing it you can access the site from your computer.
- CMS applications have plugins to help in migration but if site is custom built especially with MSSQL its not an easy thing to move the db from 1 server to another on the fly so do use a web developer’s help in the migration process.
- prepare an excel sheet with 2 columns. Old URL’s and new URL’s just in case of a problem. But most of the time a 301 redirect script code snippet can do the job for the entire site. Chances are you might need to change page names of some files so for that this excel sheet will be of major value. So its a bit time consuming but for a 50 pages site its a must.
- Create the 301 redirect with the above table so you don’t miss out on any URL There are many software tools available which you can pass your old URL’s in a batch file to find if anyone is missing. a 404 error is bad for a site and link juice flow.
- Domain use meta refresh tag for redirecting pages on old site. Looks simple but it blocks the link juice transfer only use the 301 redirect.
- Using the excel sheet pass it trough an XML sitemap builder to get a list with new URL mentioned in it. That way submission to Google Search Console would be easier.
- Update your Google local business listing with the new domain URL in it.
- Login to bling webmaster tools and submit your new URL. For Google and Bling (even yahoo uses bling) you will need to authenticate the domain name by adding a Meta tag or by adding a DNS entry with the tag.