For branding purposes, we are moving a blog from its current URL (a subdomain of the main site) to its own domain. The blog has grown big in the past few years, developed its own audience, with loyal visitors and lots of referrals. Search engines account for only 40% of its traffic. It is in Technorati's top 100 for politics.
The site will be moving its own domain and launching a new site design. Based on Google's advice [googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com
...] we're doing the whole thing as a two step process: move the site first to the new domain, before launching the redesign.
I've read through the various posts for moving an existing site to a new domain. I've compiled a list of things to do, and I'd really appreciate it if you could take a look at it and let me know what else needs to be done.
Before the Move to new domain:
- List all current URLs and the corresponding URLs of the new domain
- List all sites currently linking to the blog and contact them and request them to change their links to the new site
- Change all links within the blog itself and the main site is edited to the new domain
- Add the new domain in GWT and verify the new domain name
- Use the change of address tool in GWT to notify Google of the site's move
- Inform Google News of the change of the site's domain
- Install Wordpress in the new domain (blog runs on Wordpress)
- In Wordpress, tell search engines not to index the site yet
- Copy the database, contents, files, etc. in the new domain
- Change the Feedburner settings
- Put in the redirect 301
- Test the install, and verify the header response
- Let search engines crawl the new site
- Keep the old domain to make sure everything is redirecting
- After two weeks, launch the new design for the blog
My questions is:
1. How long should we let the blog sit in its new domain with the current design before changing the design? Is 2 weeks enough to let the search engines catch up?
2. At what point should we use the change of address tool in GWT to notify Google of the site's move? Should it be as soon as we move the contents of the site? Or is this something we could do even before? We've been using the new domain currently to redirect to the old domain, and this whole thing is intended to reverse this.
Thanks for your advice