What Should You Do to Your Content when You Change Domains?

Apr 11, 2008 • 9:05 am | comments (1) by twitter | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Are you afraid of changing your domain because you're afraid that you'll lose your rankings? It's a valid concern and one that a Google Groups member is quite worried about. What's the best possible way to handle domain changes without any loss of rankings?

Two Google Webmaster Central staff members, Wysz and JohnMu, explain that the best procedure is to implement a 301 redirect. In May of last year, this question was addressed on the Google Webmaster Central blog.

JohnMu explains that it's best to "redirect incrementally" instead of doing hundreds (or thousands) of redirects at once. His reason is that you should be able to check that it's working properly before continuing.

A word of caution: don't use a 302 (temporary) redirect. What that tells Google is that you're saving the old URL. John explains that this can "confuse the crawlers." Finally, he mentions that he moved a site with about 100,000 pages before he joined Google and noticed no long-term negative effects.

While all of this is helpful, you can't help but wonder if Google Webmaster Tools should give webmasters the ability to specify that they're changing domains so that Google has some awareness before (or during) the process -- and I'm certain that it would alleviate some stress that is impacting these webmasters.

Forum discussion continues at Google Groups.

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Rob Abdul

04/14/2008 09:56 am

The Key is backlinks, backlinks, backlinks! 1. Get in touch with sites that link to your site and get them to change their links to your new domain. 2. Login to Google Webmaster Central (sitemaps) and remove your domain from the Google index. 3. You old domain must be removed from the Google Index before your new site goes live! If they exist at the same time – it is an instant ban for life form Google for your new domain. 4. If both sites need to co-exist – so that you can configure your site on your new domain use robot.txt to block all search engines. 5. Do not let your old domain go into cyberspace. Keep your old domain for at least a year so that a competitor may not get hold of it. Or keep hold of it until all your backlinks have changed to your new domain. Block all search engines form indexing your old domain at this point. * You should be afraid, a new domain is in the “sand box”, be sure to submit your site to sitemaps and Google analytics – to show Google you want to be open-book and have nothing to hide. If you have High PR backlinks, then you will not be “sand boxed”. The transition period will cause mayhem for your visitors – be sure you keep them in the loop. *The use of the Sand box theory, is in my expert opinion only, in no way is it Google’s opinion.

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