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"Google Certified Domain Change" - just an idea

     
6:13 pm on Apr 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



At Boston PubCon last week, I proposed an idea to Matt Cutts that Google create some kind of "certified domain change" service -- so that companies who really must rebrand, or who purchase a more desirable domain name for some other reason, have some recourse with Google other than getting buried in the SERPs and taking a financial hit.

I for one would love to see something like this option. It could, perhaps, be offered through the SiteMaps program. Google could put all kinds of restrictions and proof of ownership into it (they would need to, I'm sure). Just, please, give us a smooth way to transition to a new domain. At any rate, Matt was very receptive and said something like "we do need something like that, I'll pass it on."

What do others think? Does this make sense? Would you use such a program? If it were free? If it were paid?

8:26 pm on Apr 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Makes sense to me, but would not use it if it was a hassle. Those kinds of changes are a hassle anyway, so the less hassle the better.

OTOH, for big brand name clients it would just need to be part of the process. They'd pay too :)

8:35 pm on Apr 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Yes, it's the branded clients I'm thinking of -- some pretty big and some not so big.

If they're REALLY big, they just plow on through and the world trails right along with them. But the decent mid-sized company can have one heck of a time on Google if they need to change their domain. And a reasonable fee would be well worth it, because the current situation costs them a lot in lost traffic, excessive work to establish the new domain, and so on.

8:38 pm on Apr 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Great! We are married to some domains we really do nto want. TBH though the plain old 301 should work.
8:38 pm on Apr 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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An independent authority would be better and universally useable.
9:11 pm on Apr 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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the decent mid-sized company can have one heck of a time on Google if they need to change their domain.

So can the little guy (or gal). I wouldn't be in favour of a service available only to those with big money. Anyone should be able to access such a service (which sounds like a good idea in principle).

9:18 pm on Apr 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member steveb is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



The problem is the goofball sandbox. Allowing some people to get around it and not others is nothing more than corrupt.

I can't imagine what you guys are thinking... established players can rebrand at will, while new players must wait a year to even establish any brand?

7:50 pm on Apr 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

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



But the decent mid-sized company can have one heck of a time on Google if they need to change their domain. And a reasonable fee would be well worth it, because the current situation costs them a lot in lost traffic, excessive work to establish the new domain, and so on.

The idea makes so much sense that I'd like to think that Google would be for it... unless, of course, for some reason it's algorithmically not possible.

I've read in various fora that the perceived sandbox effect in a domain change was an unanticipated consequence of a bunch of other factors (eg, link crediting delay, etc), but that Google decided they actually liked the result because it was effective in combatting spam. It may be that Google can't undo all these factors with the push of a button.

I can also imagine that the evaluation of what is a legitimate name change request could get complicated, if not messy. steveb's objection is a fair one.

7:59 pm on Apr 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

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tedster

"What do others think? Does this make sense? Would you use such a program? If it were free? If it were paid? "

I would use such program, free or paid. Already the day it starts ;-)

8:13 pm on Apr 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

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but that Google decided they actually liked the result because it was effective in combatting spam.

a little bit of rationalization?

8:28 pm on Apr 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

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This is a great idea. We have purchased some new domains and would like to rebrand. But a 301 redirect does not always work the way one plans it to.

Giving webmasters a way to make a domain change can allow for rebranding and purchasing better domain names.

9:36 pm on Apr 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member steveb is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



It doesn't appear as such a horrible idea if you just think about one site with a straightforward change. That isn't how things work though. Why should a company with ten websites be allowed to niche rebrand at will, whereas companies with one site or no sites would be treated differently. It's just a plainly unfair idea that is at its core purely corrupt. The idea that existing networks should be able to rebrand sites based on whatever the fad of that month is while others are penalized for creating sites of exactly the same type with exactly the same quality content and exactly the same sort of linking is just horrible philosophy.
10:39 pm on Apr 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



steveb, you may have missed something here -- this is not Google's idea, it is mine. And I assure you, I have no corruption going on.

I wouldn't care how the details were worked out -- 1 domain every two years, or a limit of 5 in a year per owner or whatever. Tie it to registrar records, require the previous domain to be offline, whatever is needed to prevent abuse in Google's eyes.

When a business must re-brand for some reason, it's hard enough just getting the message through to legacy customers. Why should they need to start at the ground floor and go through a hazing ritual with Google when they don't need to anywhere else, online or offline? Not even at the bank!

10:48 pm on Apr 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Sounds expensive to develope.
10:51 pm on Apr 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

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The problem is the goofball sandbox...
I can't imagine what you guys are thinking... established players can rebrand at will, while new players must wait a year to even establish any brand?

An issue here is the sheer amount of time it takes to get established on Google. The initial 6-8 months ageing filter is very crude, and frankly unfair. Perhaps if Google had more effective anti-spam measures this wouldn't be quite the issue it clearly is.

Whilst I agree in principle it makes sense to have some kind of alternative to a complete marketing rebuild, it does give credence to Google's reliance on crude measures to combat spam - a little detail they don't exactly brag about.

Maybe next time someone corners a Google employee they can ask them why a company that makes such a big deal about hiring the best brains in the business is using the crudest of all techniques - assuming everyone is a spammer for a fixed time period? It's about as sophisticated as a sledge hammer after all.

11:01 pm on Apr 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I think its a very good idea- if it simply replaces "old indexed domain name" with "new indexed domain name" (with the push of a button) eliminating the need for 301 redirects. I'd also like to see the same idea applied to replace domain.com with www.domain.com or vice versa.
11:21 pm on Apr 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member steveb is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



"Why should they need to start at the ground floor and go through a hazing ritual with Google when they don't need to anywhere else, online or offline?"

Why shouldn't they? That's the problem with the idea, and I know it's yours not Googles. It would be purely corrupt to allow some people to launch new sites and rank, while exact peers cannot.

Suppose some company has a five site network. Suppose an exact competitor has a one site network.
Suppose now they both want to launch a domain based on a new zero calorie thingee. Why should the five domain company be able to just get a URL and move a website and start with years of algo value, while the other company could not? Yes, they could stick new content on their one domain, but why should they be penalized.

There is absolutely zero reason that you should be able to take all the content from site1.com and put it on site2.com while you can't take some of the content from site3.com and put it on site4.com. And then that doesn't even address why site5.com would be disallowed from competing entirely.

The sandbox is dumb, but if they are going to have it then it should be equally applied to everyone.

11:43 pm on Apr 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I would totally have to agree with what SteveB is saying. And also why would they address something they say does not exist? That being the "SandBox". I would also have to agree the idea is a great idea though Tedster. The funny thing though is if there was not a sandbox we wouldn't even be talking about this. The whole "SandBox" is quite an utter joke if you ask 99% of us.
2:40 am on Apr 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



This comes down to the old "there is no sandbox" discussion, doesn't it... but honestly, there really is no sandbox ;) It's a set of algorithm factors and filters. They help Google establish that a new domain is not online just to manipulate their results, that it's a bona fide online business and valuable enough to show in the search results. If that can be established, documented through some service that naturally includes transparency of ownership and upfront accountability, then there's no need to "test" the new domain.

Everyone wins -- Google gets fresher results, the business can easily transfer to a new name, and end users can find what they are looking for. And a competitor finding themselves in the same position can do the exact same thing -- what's stopping that from happening?

I really do want to understand the objections here, and I'm honestly not getting it so far.

7:05 am on Apr 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member steveb is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I'm not getting what you aren't getting as again the idea is blatantly unfair.

If you are simply suggesting a manual review of a new domain to see if it can avoid the sandbox, well that would be nice (good luck), but what you stated is just a way for one type of site (and business model) to have an advantage over two others. Seriously, what positive can you possibly see in that? Why, exactly, should two types of exactly peer sites not have the same benefits of one type of site?

5:21 pm on Apr 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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



Incidental beneficiary of such a program: The domain aftermarket.

Might help move some domains from parking to deployment.

Could also increase aftermarket value for quality domains, as one (significant) downside of moving to a new domain would be eliminated.

[edited by: Webwork at 5:23 pm (utc) on April 25, 2006]

5:54 pm on Apr 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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So google creates a "trust/authority/quality" filter problem, and now to help people get around it for legitimate reasons we propose a "paid review", man that is classic ...
6:00 pm on Apr 25, 2006 (gmt 0)



What's the benefit to Google, and--from Google's self-interested point of view--how is this better than a nice, simple, scalable, no-human-intervention-required 301 redirect?
6:29 pm on Apr 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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This is truly classic.
6:53 pm on Apr 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Ok, Ted. I think this is a great idea, however Google is not the only search engine.

I volunteer to be the unbiased third party to verify them. ;)

10:37 pm on Apr 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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this would be a great idea if you could not absolutely count on black/gray hat seos immediately finding a way to trick google and get new domains ranking.
10:47 pm on Apr 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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



Hmmmm . . so when you register for Google's hypothetical program and register a new domain you have to register the old domain for 3 years and turn it over to Google, to do with it as they please . . or something like that, to kill off any blackhat gaming or other fraud with the old domain?
11:47 pm on Apr 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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It seems to me that the only way this would work would be if Google could remember the cutover date from olddomain to newdomain, and forever and perpetually credit links it found to olddomain prior to the cutover date to newdomain, and links it found after the cutover date to olddomain.

This would, in effect, make olddomain a virgin website as of the cutover date, subjecting it to any sandbox penalties, and requiring anyone who bought it, or even the same owner if he decided to redeploy the domain, to create their own new link juice to get something out of it.

The question is whether Google has the horsepower to do this (remembering the age of any link). And, what do you do when olddomain had a DMOZ listing in some category, which would get credited to newdomain after the cutover. Then, the domain owner gets DMOZ to update its listings to newdomain, which is fine, but new owner establishes a new website in the same category and gets it listed. Therefore, what looks like a link that should belong to olddomain should really belong to the new owner. Would Google be able to tell what went on, or would newdomain get the link credit? There are a lot of potential pitfalls.

12:48 am on Apr 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Why shouldn't they? That's the problem with the idea, and I know it's yours not Googles. It would be purely corrupt to allow some people to launch new sites and rank, while exact peers cannot.

To be honest, they aren't launching a new site, they are "changing" over to a new url. It's just like moving from your home address to another location. The people who move into your house "aren't you" so why should someone else get your credit rating if they are now living in your old house. If someone is lauching a new site, they haven't established credit yet. Would you automatically give them a high credit limit...they need to earn it first? my 2 cents.

I would use this service if I needed to change over an established url to a more suitable name if it became available.

1:35 am on Apr 26, 2006 (gmt 0)



The question is whether Google has the horsepower to do this...

And why they'd want to, when it means hassle for them without any obvious payback.

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