Moving your website to a new domain can be a tough decision. Although this move should be avoided as much as possible, it does become inevitable at times. Well, if you have to go ahead with it, make sure your users and search engines are not affected by it too much. The transition should be seamless and organised.
The following few steps will help you analyse the risks and opportunities associated with moving your website, so that you don’t end up messing things up for your online business, especially for your search engine optimisation prospects.
- Do not move the website at one go. Test the relocation process by moving the contents of one directory or sub-domain first. Use a 301 Permanent Redirect to transfer authority from your old web pages to the new destination. The search engines will get to know that your site has permanently relocated and that old URLs indexed by them should be replaced by the new URLs that the new site will contain.
- Once you have completed the 301 redirects, keep a close watch on your web pages’ indexation. Analyse different search engines’ result pages to make sure that your new site’s URLs are appearing there. When you are satisfied with this limited transition, you can go ahead and move the entire site to the new location.
- Do not redirect all your old URLs to the URL of your new domain’s homepage. It will lead to a series of 404 errors that can malign your site’s image with search engines. Page-by-page redirects are highly advisable here. Let each page on the old site get redirected to the corresponding page on the new site. This task will be time consuming, but, in the long run, it will be much more beneficial for your new domain’s search potential. This kind of redirect will provide search engine spiders and users with a consistent and clear path to the new site location.
- Consistently check your internal links and fix broken ones, if any. Do not leave any gaps for search engine spiders to shy away from your new website.
- Add your new website to all your Webmaster Tools accounts and verify the ownership of the new domain. By doing so, you can easily create, validate and submit XML sitemaps listing your new URLs.
Above all, make sure you are also simultaneously following an online marketing strategy to promote the new domain. After all, it will help you get inbound links and rebuild your site’s link authority. Sending out online Press Releases, buying contextual ads, creating new social media accounts and actively networking through them, updating new domain in all official communication, etc. are just some of the activities you can undertake to get your new site going.