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Moving to new domain in 8-12 months - what to do now?



1:30 am on May 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hi All,

One of my clients with an established trusted website old-example.com (PR6, 4+ years) is planning to move their website to a new domain new-example.com in about 8-12 months time from now. They just registered a fresh new-example.com domain will and retain the old-example.com indefinitely.

I know how to move to the new domain with 301 redirects when the time comes, however I am uncertain what to do with the new-example.com now...

The options I thought of are:
1) Create a mirror of old-example.com on the new-example.com
2) 301 redirect from new-example.com to old-example.com
3) create a couple of pages on new-example.com with a few back-links and let Google index it

For all three options I guess it makes sense to and both domains registered with the same webmaster tools account.

What is the general consensus in such case?

Many thanks,

man in poland

9:53 am on May 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Personally, I would do nothing with it until you make the move. I would definitely not do the 301 redirect (option 2) and if you went for option 1, I'd make sure you blocked search engines entirely from spidering the site, using robots.txt.

Option 3 has some merits (if you wish to build page rank, for example, prior to the move), but if it had different text, title, meta tags etc to the page you eventually wish to move there, you could be sending mixed messages to Google about the theme of the site.... and when you do finally change the page title, that could cause additional problems of its own.


12:28 pm on May 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

IMO you should do absolutely nothing until the time comes to make the move. Plan carefully and when the auspicious day arrives, move seamlessly in a straight line to the new domain at the flick of a switch... and be prepared for a dance that will last months... but the dance won't be too bad if you do it properly and retain the old domain with the universal 301 in place permanently.

This was my experience when I moved domains a couple of years ago. Be sure your client is moving for the right reasons though. In my case, it was because I rebranded and retained a .com and wanted to move away from .info.

BTW this thread should be in 'General Search Engine Marketing'...
Yahoo took AT LEAST a year to recognise all of the new page URL's.

[edited by: Asia_Expat at 1:06 pm (utc) on May 4, 2008]


10:15 am on May 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Thanks for the replies.

I guess option 4) is to move to the new domain partially, starting from least important pages. Does that make sense?

man in poland

12:21 pm on May 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Option 4) sounds troublesome, IMHO. In theory, it could be good, but having some pages on one domain and the others on another sounds like an accident waiting to happen. If you do move the least important pages, you'd still have them linking to the more important pages on the original domain. You'd have to be VERY accurate with this sort of approach. I understand your concerns, having done this myself - but the very best thing you can do is to do it in one go, and PLAN, PLAN, PLAN before you make the switch. Take your time before the changeover, but when you flip the switch, do it as fast as possible, checking IMMEDIATELY thereafter with a server headers checker to make sure all old urls are pointing correctly to the new urls and sending the correct server header. Good luck!


9:08 pm on May 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Assuming your new site will mirror the content from your old site, the 301s should be tested thoroughly before moving your nameservers. I prefer to use individual 301s instead of one catch-all 301.

Here's a minor checklist, I'm sure others can elaborate:
- Check site: old-domain.com and make sure you've covered everything.

- Check webmaster tools for all pages with external links. Make sure that all of those have appropriate 301s to the exact page on your new domain.

- Use something like seo spyglass to help pick up more external deep links that you may have missed.

- Install a 404 script that will email you when you do make the switch and watch it like a hawk for the first couple of weeks for anything else you may have missed.

If you already own your new domain, great. Any age you have will help smooth the transition.

We recently moved a site in a competitive arena and were ranking on the new domain within two weeks... not months. Not to say you won't have some ups and downs, but google seems to pick up quite well on 301's IMO.


11:34 pm on May 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Use caution in moving many URLs at once via 301. We moved a section of our site, about 3k pages, this way and it took over 6 months for search traffic to recover. This was just a branding change, from one directory to another, on the same domain.

That's just one data point, and of course all the experts say 301s are the right way to go. They're not wrong. But there are few absolutes here, and if you filter your advice with a question like "have you ever moved a large website to a new domain before," you may be able to reject some of the advise as hearsay.

Again, my bad experience was within a site, not across domains, and so may not be applicable, but my takeaway was to approach large 301 campaigns more cautiously, and to do them in small groups if possible.


9:49 am on May 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

The official thread on the official word from Google is here:
Moving a Website, Best Practices [webmasterworld.com]


10:15 am on May 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

Make sure that the redirect from old domain to new domain is on a per-page basis.

Do NOT redirect all URLs of the old site to the root of the new site.

Make sure the redirect returns 301 and NOT 302.

For each starting URL, make sure that the redirect happens in one step. Make sure there are no redirection chains present.


11:17 am on May 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

thanks for the responses TheMadScientist and g1smd, however my original question was:
"what to do with the new domain now - 8 months before the actual move".

How to move the domain with 301 redirect has been discussed a number of times and should be relatively straightforward.

There are a couple of subdomains in old-example.com and I guess it makes sense to move those and see if they get indexed correctly before moving the main site.


12:07 pm on May 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I say do nothing... except plan.


1:35 am on May 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Reading for comprehension is not always my strongest point.

I would think about putting up a 'Future Home of Example.Com' notice, with a noindex,nofollow tag, and a link to Example.Com just to in some way relate the two together.

IMO It's better than most of the 'empty' or 'ppc placeholder' options.

I would not make it lengthy, just a heading: "Future home of...' and text: 'To visit the current home of... LINK'


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