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Should we migrate to a new domain name?

Old domain performing well but new one sounds better...



10:55 am on Apr 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We run a website about "big fast widgets". Our domain name is not fantastic though, something like bigquickswidgets.com - it's not even correct in English. We purchased it in 2003 because no other suitable domain names with keywords in them were available then.

The site is doing reasonably well, ranking in top 4 for all major keywords and #1 for most secondary key phrases in Google. We're not performing well in other search engines though.

Anyway, we now have a chance to buy bigfastwidgets.com. It's not cheap, a 5-digit sum in USD, roughly 3 months worth of website's net revenue. We can afford it.

I can see the new domain name was first registered in 2006 which I doubt since I remember it was taken in 2003. It has PR5. It's a parked domain name with plenty of ads on it, no content and no internal pages.

The question is - should we do it? Should we buy the new domain name and do 301 redirects from the old one?

Here are the benefits:
- Website's branding would match the domain name
- Domain name will be easier to remember
- We're redesigning the site right now so the new site with different architecture and different URLs would be launched under a new domain name. We're changing the architecture and URLs of the current site anyway so the risk of disappearing from search results is present even if we keep the domain name.

My main worry:
- We will drop from top positions in search results and we can't afford that

What else should we consider? What would you do - keep the ugly domain name just to be safe or take a risk and purchase the new domain name?

Has anyone done a similar domain name migration? Did the site disappear from search results? Thanks.


3:40 pm on Apr 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator buckworks is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Any ranking hiccups from switching would be temporary, while the new domain with better wording would have those advantages forever.

In my opinion, you'd be wise to grab the domain name while it's available even if you take your time deciding how best to make use of it.


10:26 pm on Apr 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

If you do it, don't roll out the redesign at the same time as the new domain. Separate them by a few months so you can better trouble shoot problems if/when they come up.

5 figures seems like a lot for a 3 word domain that expired and was reregisted. I would talk them down. Did they approach you? If so, definitely talk them down to low 4 figures. They have only invested about 50 bucks in the domain tops. And they might already know that you are the perfect buyer for it.


8:07 pm on Apr 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

do it. You may lose rankings in the short term, but in 5 years you will be glad you did it - it will also add a lot of value to any potential sale of your business down the road -


5:53 am on Apr 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

My advice is don't do it.

But it also depends where your traffic comes from. If it's mainly from the SERPS then definitely don't do it unless you have solid information that a domain name affects your ranking in the long term.

But if your traffic comes from other sources then maybe you should buy it. Another possibility (like escrow.com I believe) is to lease it.


8:28 am on Apr 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks for your opinions. The traffic is mainly from SERPs and I don't think the new domain name would have a massive impact on ranking because of keywords in it - it's more about branding really.


6:45 pm on May 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

With current Google changes you might see a traffic dip of several months or more.

It is absolutely vital to redirect old URLs to new in order to preserve at least some of the traffic while the new site gets indexed.

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