First, I realise that moving away from a 5 year old domain name is very very high risk, but here's my circumstances.
The domain has 4 keyword, and 3 hyphens. Since last fall the site has vanished twice, the last time for 3 months, this time for 2 months running. The 3 hyphens were a bad idea, but I was new to this back then, and hyphens were all the rage.
Now I can look in my sector (can't speak for others, but my sector gets spammy) for any one of dozens of keyphrases, and you have to go waaaaay down to page 8 or 10 even before you see the domains with 3 hyphens or more - there used to be lots more.
Since my Google traffic is way down (still get image traffic though) I'm thinking it's time to move to another domain.
My concerns here are mostly for G, as Y and MSN have never liked the site in their modern incarnations.
I've seen lots of 301 disaster threads, but for all I know there are 5 seamless moves for every 1 disaster.
I've read people suggesting that all content can be moved to the new site, with links pointing to the new URLs being left behind on the now empty pages of the old domain, with no content and with or without a robots noindex,follow tag. 301 could be brought in AFTER G has found the new pages.
Some folks have suggested that you can just use a meta refresh to the new URL with a link saying 'this page has moved here'.
I also have a variety of domains with different 'ages' to choose from for the move - one 5 years old with PR3, one 6 months old with PR3 and a brand new one with branding close to the domain I'm leaving, just no dashes.
Needless to say I don't want to do any more harm than necessary, but I'm prepared for things to be a bit bumpy. I just want to know if there are any recent examples of these techniques working or backfiring.
Some of the stuff I've searched and read here is from the days of a different Google.
If I go the straight up 301 route, I'd be saving some hassle, and ideally passing some PR eventually, and since traffic is very very slow right now, I don't know if I'd notice the drop-off. The clearing of pages and just leaving navigation to the new site seems semi risky? I don't want dupe content hassles.
Sorry for the long post, but I'd rather ask a bunch of questions beforehand with a clear head than a 'OMG I'm screwed post' later on.