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Just acquired new domain, here's my plan for redirecting everything

10:11 pm on Oct 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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So we just acquired a new domain, which is essentially the same related keyword from our previous domain. We had "purplewidgets.com" and now we have "widgets.com". The website ranks fairly well for all main keywords and the bulk of the traffic comes from long tail search from all the unique quality content we have been building over the last couple of years. I don't want to lost my traffic, but I want to move our domain over to this new domain as soon as possible. Here is my plan:

1. Look over all pages of site with a backlink checker to see which pages people are linking to most
2. Contact all sites that link to us on a one-by-one basis and try to get as many of them to change the links to our new domain
3. Do the domain switch
4. Redirect old domain to new domain + redirect all pages in httaccess file that have significant links that we were unable to get changes for
5. Cross fingers & hope for the best

Based on your experience, what is most likely to happen? A. Nothing B. A drop in traffic for a few weeks then steadily get back to where i was before the change or C. A risk that all links (that havent managed to get changed to new domain) lose value in redirect and get a drop in rankings and traffic.

Would any of you add to those steps above? I haven't had to do much (or any) major domain changes or redirects in the years I have been in SEO, so any input from experience is much appreciated.
10:19 pm on Oct 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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

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Here are a couple of excellent threads from our "Hall of Fame"

Advice on moving a site to a different domain [webmasterworld.com] [2007]
Moving to a New Domain - Official Advice from Google [webmasterworld.com] [2008]


If you haven't already checked up on your new domain's bill of health, I'd definitely suggest doing that. You don't want to be inheriting the sins of past owners. If you find evidence that any past version of the domain was penalized, use the Reconsideration Request to let Google know so they can reset the ancient history for you.
10:42 pm on Oct 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Have you bought working domain or just a domain name?

If you bought the domain name then I guess that in moving the domain, you moving the same structure from the old domain to the new one?

If you bought the existing domain, are you scraping the current content and putting your existing domain content preserving the same structure/design? I.e. are you ONLY changing the domain name, nothing else?

Under the presumption you are only changing the domain name and that the current domain was not ever live or was just parked:

1. It is a good idea to ensure that the new domain has the same WhoIs info
2. Copy all content from the old domain to the new domain
3. After copying the content over to the new domain, check your current content for any internal links that use absolute path and replace the old domain name with the new domain name (or strip domain name alltogether and leave the path absolute from root down only)
4. If you use canonical link element on some/all pages, make sure that you change the canonical link element to have new domain in URL
5. Once you have this sorted, change htaccess to 301 redirect ALL pages from the old domain to the new domain on the page-per-page basis (and make sure there are no chained redirects, that is, if you have redirects on the old domain, make sure they go straight to a correct end URL in the new domain). This should be done regardless whether you will manage to get links changed to point to the new domain or not.
6. Submit sitemap.xml for the new domain
7. Now you have a new domain, approach the sites that link to you - they will need to see a working domain/page before they change links. Nobody will change links to "domain coming soon"
8. If you have WMT, add the new domain to the same WMT account and execute "Change of address" option

My experience: If you are only moving the domain and keeping exactly the same structure/content of the website, and providing that:
- the new domain has no adverse history from before (was not used before or was just parked)
- and providing you do not make technical errors during the move (e.g. you have no chain redirects, you do not leak out URLs that should not be crawled etc.)

..then the changeover can happen between 1-4 months depending on how often the site gets crawled and the loss of traffic is minimal. You may see how old domain URLs get replaced with new ones in SERPs as they are recrawled and on ocassion you may see SERPs toggle between old/new URL for a period of time.

So I would expect A or B
With regards to C, there is a minimal loss of PR for links going via 301, hence you should try to get your most important (most powerful) links to change to link directly to a new domain
And there is always D - you get drop of ranking / traffic because of technical issues exposed during the move.
11:23 pm on Oct 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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@aakk999 @tedster
Thanks for the input so far - much appreciated!

Have you bought working domain or just a domain name?

yes I bought a new domain, and as far as I've known this domain has been parked for last few years.

1. It is a good idea to ensure that the new domain has the same WhoIs info

What if one has a private registration and the other doesnt, but are under same name?

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