Online Marketing

Fred Lebhart Posted by Fred Lebhart on July 26, 2013

Best Practices for SEO When Moving Your Site Domain

efelle-media-search-engine-optimization-services-seattle.jpgBest Practices for SEO When Moving Your Site Domain

What to expect when Moving Your Site Domain…

Moving your website to a new domain is a little less daunting when you take your time to plan properly. Pay attention to detail during the transition and you’ll avoid major problems for your new domain and sacrifice as little SEO strength as possible.

The Planning Phase

The best way to plan is to look at the current page structure and see how that matches up with the proposed new domain structure. Say you currently have a product in a structure like, but for the new site, you plan on showcasing all of your products in categories. So, the new site will look like

It’s best to analyze every URL on your current site in a spreadsheet, matching each with the new URL. This helps you to create necessary new pages and weed out old and irrelevant content you don’t want to bring with you. This is also the time to perform any design changes on the site.

The Testing Phase

Now it’s time to start making sure the move will work. You should always start with a test before moving the entire site. Moving an obscure category or page is a good place to start.

Look on your spreadsheet and choose a URL to test. Do a 301 redirect to tell search engines the page has moved permanently, and then wait to make sure the new page shows up properly in the search engines. Once it does, you have the green light to move the rest of the site.

The Moving Phase

It’s best to go to each page and redirect it individually. Yes, it’s a long and tedious process, but you’ll pass link juice from the old domain. Sometimes, though, this isn’t the most practical. If you are rebranding and redesigning everything, a blanket redirect may be better once you finish the redesign and branding work.

Sweating the Small Stuff

Ignore the rule that says you shouldn’t sweat the small stuff and that “It’s all small stuff.” You really do need to sweat the details issues if you want to save time and effort later:

  • Make sure all internal and external links are working properly.
  • Set up the new site in your Google Webmaster Tools and any other tracking applications you use.
  • Create and submit a new sitemap.
  • Avoid switching servers if possible to avoid setting up new DNS records and suffering downtime.

Remember, until the search engines figure out the new site structure and what is going on, your SEO stats may tumble a bit. Don't panic, just complete your move and make sure that all is in order. You will start to see your old SEO strength rebound soon.

Let efelle help you with your site redesign for a smooth transition and stronger SEO.

efelle does more than help sites improve their SEO. We also offer content services, site design, content management systems and more. Call us at 866.394.7520 or use our online contact form for a free web design consultation.

See also:

Website Search Engine Optimization: Why You Can't Afford to Ignore Bing and Yahoo
Image SEO for Online Retailers