Wildcard Friday – What to Consider Before Changing to a New Domain Name



A recent discussion with a client inspired me to put together some important aspects to prepare for and consider before redirecting to a new domain name. I tapped into a video uploaded by Google Webmaster Help recently (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wATxftE8ooE&noredirect=1 ) that I found helpful. I’ll be outlining the major points today.

  1. If the new domain you intend on redirecting to is just parked, it is recommended that you put up a placeholder which could be a few paragraphs explaining the new destination, or even just a simple version of the new site’s home page. This will allow Google to better classify the new domain.
  2. If you are planning on launching a redesign and a 301 redirect to a new domain at the same time, you may want to think about decoupling the two so that if something happens to go wrong you can easily pin point the issue. I’d recommend choosing to accomplish one task or the other (redirecting or launching the redesign) first, allow the pages to get crawled and indexed, then move on to the next task.
  3. If you’re consolidating multiple domains into one, start with the smallest traffic site first, then redirect the others based on size of traffic.
  4. In theory, the 301 redirect should pass everything along to the new domain, but there are always risks involved. If you’re worried about the risks of losing rankings with the redirect, start by testing small blocks of pages first instead of redirecting the whole domain.
  5. If you have select important and valuable links pointing to your current domain (for example if a manufacturer’s website has a link back to your site), it would be worthwhile to contact these websites to ask them to change the URL to your new domain.
  6. It is suggested to keep the old website up for a while after the redirect takes place