Moving domains will effectively reset the domain and page authorities to zero, this can cause huge negative impacts on search engine visibility. The following steps can minimise this impact or even, in certain cases, completely negate the effects of the transition.
Moving domains will effectively reset the domain and page authorities to zero, this can cause huge negative impacts on search engine visibility.
The following steps can minimise this impact or even, in certain cases, completely negate the effects of the transition.
The first step is to create a copy of the old domain sitemap; this can be useful throughout the process and is needed when notifying Google of the move.
Once this is done, setup the new site and make it live - ensuring all internal links are pointing to your new domain. Tools like Xenu and Screaming Frog can be used to help find any broken links.
A 404 page on the old domain should be set up, directing users to your new site. This also gives Google an indication that you plan on transferring domains. At this point both new and old domains should be registered and verified in Google Webmaster Tools.
Now you can start implementing 301 redirects. Where possible this should be a 1:1 redirect, redirecting all old pages to the relevant page on the new domain.
For example http://www.oldsite.co.uk/product1/ will redirect to: http://www.newsite.co.uk/product1/.
Where this isn’t possible, the page should be redirected to the most relevant page or the homepage.
Once all 301 redirects are in place you need to submit your old sitemap to Google via Webmaster Tools and Bing via Webmaster Centre. This will make the search engines crawl your old domain and see that it has been redirected to the new domain; search engines will then index this accordingly.
You should also notify Google using their change of address form, which can again be found in Webmaster Tools. This is a safe tool as only verified site owners are able to use this.
You are now at a point where you can submit your new sitemap to Google; this will inform Google of any URLs that were not present on your old site. Now wait until Google Webmaster Tools updates and fix any errors that appear under the Health section.
It is worth checking both old and new domains for crawl errors to be sure the 301 redirects are working and the new domain doesn’t have unwanted 404 errors.
Rankings should be monitored to ensure that Google is indexing your new domain properly and showing your new domain in search results.
Obviously the best outcome is to completely negate the loss in visibility, however it is important to note that it is expected that there will be a drop. Therefore, it is also strongly advised that this kind of activity takes place at the start of the quietest period for the business.
Is there anything else you think is important to consider when transferring to a new domain?
Please comment below, I would love to hear your opinions or additional tips.