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I need some guidance. I've searched the forums but still not sure.
My company's web site (let's call it MtName.org) has been on the web for years and enjoys #1 search ranking.
But the domain name is very awkward because instead of being MountName.org, instead it was registered years ago as MtName.org (which is a royal pain when you're trying to "speak" to someone and "tell" them what your web site URL is). You can't just say "Mount Name dot org." You have to "explain" to them the whole stupid abbreviation aspect.
So, I'm setting up a new acct. with a new web host (for other reasons), and I decided to register a new domain "MountName.com" in the hopes of somehow doing away with MtName.org (or at least just pointing it to the new domain).
But I'm worried about losing our wonderful #1 search ranking if we start using the new domain and park/re-direct the old one to point to the new one. So I don't know how to go about this. I don't know much about SEO. Perhaps I should just leave well-enough alone.
Any advice folks? Thanks for your help!
I would suggest dong a 301 from MountName to MtName. That would allow you to "speak" the website while still maintaining the current domain and rankings.
I've done this several times and it works extremely well, you may lose ranking for a few weeks but in my experience everything goes back to "normal" plus you keep all those valuable backlinks intact since they are automatically 301d to the new name.
Important note - As soon as the .com is alive and showing the site, delete all the .org files and 301 from your domain registrar's control panel. Do not leave anything on the .org other than the 301.
I've read about cases as you mention in which it just takes time to regain the page ranking. And then as WillyB noted, not all search engines may play nice with such a move. And I've read posts of not so good experiences, as WillyB attested to himself.
From what I've gathered, there is a distinct difference to consider if one is talking about redirecting a bunch of pages from site-to-site (which may or may not involve a total restructering of the site), and a rather separate issue of "just" redirecting an actual domain name. That was one point that occured to me after reading several threads here at WebMasterWorld.
We are a private high school, so the page ranking isn't really the end of the world for us, but it's nice to have for prospective parents who are looking for a new school.
I'll think on it some more.
If you ensure you are using a "301 permanent redirect" then your rankings will recover after a certain time. Make sure you take the time to contact some of the main sites which link to yours, see if you can get them to update their link to the new domain name. Sign up for Google Webmaster Tools.
For the old domain, you need to keep the permanent redirect in place for the foreseeable future. You do not need separate hosting for each domain name, you can see if you can "park" it with the new hosting, or many domain registrars offer redirection - but again, make sure it is a 301 permanent redirect that is used.
I've looked into the other TLD's for our new domain, and purchased .net .org .com
About redirecting the old domain... We have cPanel/WHM with our new VPS host and 3 IP addresses. I see a feature for domain parking in WHM. I'm wondering if that will serve as a 301 redirect, or perhaps I need to use another setting. I'll have to research some more.
Also, about "contacting sites" that link to our old domain... Does Google Webmaster Tools by chance have an automated tool for contacting them? That would be really cool!
Also, about "contacting sites" that link to our old domain
It's easier to point the names from where you have your domain names registered and then the exisiting links will automatically go straight through.
That's assuming you can do this at your registrar.
I'm pretty sure GWT does not have this feature.