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Will Changing Domain Name of 10-Year Old Site Cost Rankings?
DXL




msg:4316588
 11:00 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

Client has a 10-year-old website that ranks at the top of Google for competitive keyword searches. Client is a certified retailer of widgets, both online and in a brick and mortar setting.

The company that manufactures the widgets has just decided that they no longer want retailers to use parts of their company name in their domain name.

Is there any way possible to maintain the client's rank on Google, but to also satisfy the manufacturer's request?

 

g1smd




msg:4316622
 12:24 am on May 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

Changing domain means it becomes a brand new website, and will have to jump through many hoops to get indexed and ranked.

After ten years it's a bit late for the manufacturer to start throwing a strop.

brotherhood of LAN




msg:4316626
 12:29 am on May 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

Would the canonical tag (and its ability to be cross domain) perhaps be an option?

Just mentioning it as it would seem to be one of the ways it can be useful... I can't personally say either way, and would be extra cautious with a 10 year old site.

Andem




msg:4316634
 12:47 am on May 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

>> Would the canonical tag (and its ability to be cross domain) perhaps be an option?

Google can be fickle. Normally I would say using that might be an option, but Google is so random right now it's hard to say.

Either way, I would probably plead with the manufacturer and propose some kind of deal with them to continue using the domain name. If your client is promoting the product, why the heck not? If that doesn't work, do a 301 redirect and forget about the canonical tag. Second suggestion would be to use the canonical tag for a month or two and then do a 301, but keep the original domain name for as long as possible to maintain those 301s.

tedster




msg:4316641
 1:14 am on May 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

The only way the canonical link element would help is if the pages can still be indexed at the old URL - the one that uses the brand name. If you move the site, that won't happen.

There are lots of threads here about moving an existing site to a new domain. For a basic primer, see Moving to a New Domain - Official Advice from Google [webmasterworld.com]

Done with meticulous attention to technical detail it can be done with only some disruption to traffic - for a minimal period of a few weeks, maybe a month or two. A key to any such move is 301 redirects, URL by URL, so the business needs to maintain control of the legacy domain name for about 180 days, according to Google.

If the business cannot legally maintain control of the domain name, then there's a much bigger job and much longer traffic disruption. Two essential steps: publicize the domain change in a major way, and contact the backlinking website and gett them to change the links.

aakk9999




msg:4316642
 1:17 am on May 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

Second suggestion would be to use the canonical tag for a month or two and then do a 301, but keep the original domain name for as long as possible to maintain those 301s.

Has anyone done it this way and what would be the benefits over straight domain move via 301 + domain change in WMT?

With regards to keeping the original domain, I agree, this should be kept indefinitely with 301 implemented if at all possible.

Andem




msg:4316645
 1:26 am on May 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

>> Has anyone done it this way and what would be the benefits over straight domain move via 301 + domain change in WMT?

I have experience with that. I moved servers to an IP formerly hosting several web sites. Since the domains were pointing to my IP, the former URIs were serving up my content since I only had non-www redirects in place. I didn't notice it until a few months after I obtained the new IP addresses. Even though it was over 2 years ago since I implemented the 301s, I still have several thousand reported backlinks from these webpages (reported as url1 via url2) on G WMT so the 6 month rule is not really concrete.

To this day, I still have reports, on and off, that they link to me.

DXL




msg:4316965
 4:31 pm on May 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'll try a few of these suggestions, and also checking out the thread referenced.

HuskyPup




msg:4317007
 5:38 pm on May 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

The company that manufactures the widgets has just decided that they no longer want retailers to use parts of their company name in their domain name.


However will they allow you to keep the name and url forward it at your domain registrar from the original site to the new one?

If so, simply move the site to its new home as it is now, url for url, and you should retain all backlinks etc.

I have done this several times and it has worked perfectly.

deadsea




msg:4317009
 5:43 pm on May 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

Here is a more recent thread that has a checklist for moving between domain names:
Checklist for Moving an Existing Site to New Domain [webmasterworld.com]

bhartzer




msg:4317033
 6:50 pm on May 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

If so, simply move the site to its new home as it is now, url for url, and you should retain all backlinks etc.

You can do that, sure. The problem is that 301 redirects don't pass the same amount of "link juice" that they used to.

I would do everything in your power to keep the old URLs and not 301 redirect anything.

they no longer want retailers to use parts of their company name in their domain name.

Unfortunately that's going to be an issue. I would not have recommended that you use anyone's name as part of your domain name. A generic domain, or your own company name, is always a better bet.

Best bet at this point is to see if you can create a "landing page" of sorts on the old domain that points users to the new site--with some deep links to pages on the new domain.

g1smd




msg:4317049
 7:17 pm on May 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

the former URIs were serving up my content since I only had non-www redirects in place

This code would have saved the day:

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^(www\.example\.com)?$
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.example.com/$1 [R=301,L]

anteck




msg:4317250
 2:16 am on May 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

If you move the site, don't count on keeping your rankings. I've moved a number of sites using proper 301, and the sites just don't hold rankings. Google saying 301's pass link juice is absolute BS. I've seen the results time and time again, it's just not true.

tedster




msg:4317264
 3:31 am on May 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've seen the opposite several times, too. It's not always true, but it is true sometimes. Maybe it's related to the trust of the old domain.

Years ago it was absolutely never true. Moving to a new domain was the guaranteed kiss of death.

g1smd




msg:4317304
 7:29 am on May 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

Moving to a new domain and changing the design (in particular, changing the URLs for the pages) at the same time is likely to cause problems.

If you move to a new domain and basically keep the same site and same page URLs you'll probably have less problems.

anteck




msg:4317307
 7:42 am on May 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

Tedster - Agree. I think it might be due to trust of the time the domain has been around. Time is a big ranking factor not a lot of people consider.

Older sites rank because they are old, not because of backlinks etc... Move that site and the rankings drop because the domain and site are new. Time was a major ranking factor.

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