So you’ve decided to change your company name and want to move your website to a new domain. This is a risky process for your website traffic and ranking. You need to make sure that you don’t lose your current ranking with the search engines, that the value of your back links is maintained and your users don’t experience 404 file not found error messages.

There is a process that you can go through which will minimise the risk to your ranking and the disruption to your website visitors:

1. Upload a landing page on your new domain

Once you’ve bought your new domain name, upload a landing page with some content and allow the search engines to crawl it. It is easier for Google to process the change from a single landing page to a full website than a parked domain straight to the new website.

2. Test it out first with a small area of the website

Move the website in small chunks, and check that the ranking has been maintained before making the big move. If you move the first section and discover that the ranking has not carried over correctly or the pages are not getting indexed, it may be that the new domain had previously been used for spam and is banned by the search engines.

3. Redirect your pages

Set up 301 (permanent redirects) on all the pages of the website that you have moved to the new domain. This tells the search engines that these pages have been permanently moved and need to take their previous page rank with them. It also means that any pages that have been bookmarked by your website users will redirect to the new domain.

4. Moving your back links

It would be completely impractical to email every single website that links to you and request that they change the link to the new domain. However you should use your Google Analytics tool to discover your biggest referrers and your best links and make a request to the website owners to change the links to the new domain.

5. Keep hold of your old domain

Google recommends that you keep hold of your old site domain for at least 180 days. Keeping  the web pages up on the old domain means that if anything does go wrong, your pages are still accessible.

6. Submit a new site map

Submit a new site map to the search engines to ensure that they find all the pages on your new domain. Check in Google Webmaster tools that all your URLs have been identified.

7. Tell them you’ve moved!

Use the change of address tool in Google Webmaster tools to tell them that you have changed domain (to do this you’ll need to register for Webmaster tools for your new domain and your old domain).

8. Check for broken links

You can also use your Google Webmaster tools to identify any broken links or pages  where the 301 redirects are not working.

Moving to a new domain can be nerve-wracking but shouldn’t not affect your traffic and ranking, as long as it is done in a slow, measured way, following the above instructions.

For more information on moving your website to a new domain, see the Google Support pages Moving your site.

Wagada offers SEO, usability and website copywriting in Hertfordshire.

One of the most frequent questions asked me by my clients is “What is the best SEO plug-in for WordPress”. There are thousands of plug-ins for WordPress on the market and it is really difficult to choose between them. So I’m going to tell you my favourite WordPress plugins so you can try them out.

Yoast SEO Plugin

An all-in-one SEO plugin that will do everything you need for your website. Really easy to use and free. Yoast offers a complete toolbox of features to help you optimise your web copy, image titles, meta tags, site maps and much more.

Here are some of the features of Yoast:

  • Post titles and meta descriptions
  • Robots Meta configuration
  • Canonical
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Permalink clean up
  • XML Sitemaps
  • RSS enhancements
  • Edit your robots.txt and .htaccess
  • Clean up head section

For more information on the features available in Yoast, see their website

A lot of people use the All in One SEO plugin, which is also good, but Yoast seems to offer a more comprehensive package.

XML Sitemap plugin

Once you’ve installed it, this is a really easy way to deliver your site maps to the search engines. Generates the site map and then pings Google and the other search engines to tell them that you now have a site map. It really is that easy.

Super cache

A speedy site is great for SEO and your visitors. Your readers will stay on your blog longer if the site is easy to use and delivers the pages quickly.  Google wants users to have a great experience so usability (including page speed) is now one of the factors that it takes into account when it ranks your website. Supercache speeds up the load time of your website by delivering static HTML files from your dynamic WordPress blog. The HTML files will be served to visitors, rather than the heavier and slower WordPress PHP scripts.

Ping Wait or Max Blog Ping Optimiser

Every time you do a blog post the internet is pinged to announce that a new article has been created. This is great as it gets your blog indexed more quickly. However, every time you edit a post, even before you publish it, it pings the internet unnecessarily. If you ping too many times you might get penalised. In fact many older blogs have been banned from ping services and they don’t even realise it.

Ping Wait or Max Blog Ping Optimiser only ping the internet when you publish a post, stopping you from getting penalised or banned.

 

WordPress is a great platform for your blog and with these free plugins there are many SEO reasons for adopting it too, have a look at our WordPress SEO training courses.

Check out this hilarious video parody of Matt Cutt’s YouTube channel. Matt is the face of Google and acts as their spokesperson giving insight into the company, SEO issues and search engine updates. Here he tells you how to rank number 1 in Google…or not. Needless to say don’t follow any of the advice given…

The author has mashed up several of the Google Webmaster YouTube videos where Matt answers people’s SEO questions to make this video parody.

Contact Wagada if you really want to know how to rank number 1 in Google…

Check out Google’s real YouTube channel.