Over the last few months, we have had two clients that have started rebranding their business. Alongside content on their site, the domain name has also changed to reflect their brand name. We have carried out this process of moving websites countless times but in the wrong hands, it can be a SEO nightmare.
There are five steps to moving a website from one domain to another:
- Transfer all content from old domain to new domain.
- Setup redirects from old domain to new domain.
- Pick new site in Webmaster tools under the old domain.
- Submit change of address request in Webmaster tools.
- Ensure all redirects are working and new domain is functioning.
When you transfer all the content across to the new domain, its vital that it is blocked to Google robots via “noindex, nofollow” or even temporary password protected page. Only when all five steps above have been completed you should allow Google to recrawl the new website.
Due to the SEO concerns regarding a change of an address, many business have been hiring our Cardiff SEO Agency to perform the change and maintain their website.
The 301 Redirect
The redirection of the old website to the new website via the .htaccess file can be scary to non-developers. However, its critical to preserve your traffic and backlink juice from the old domain to the new domain.
A 301 redirect in your .htaccess file is as simple as:
redirect 301 /about-us.php http://www.newdomain.co.uk/about
redirect 301 /contact.php http://www.newdomain.co.uk/contact
You may choose now is the perfect time to fix some URL slugs and improve them by reducing them in size or removing extensions. Its important that you redirect pages individually so that there are no SEO concerns. For larger websites, this may take a fair amount of time but we suggest using a software (which there are many) to get every URL from your site and sort them using a spreadsheet.
Google Webmaster Change Of Address
You must tell Google that you are moving from one to domain to another. This is done by using the change of address tool. Within Webmaster Tools, you can access this tool by clicking the settings cog in the top right hand corner and selecting “Change of Address”.
Before you can successfully tell Google that you want to change the address, you need to create a new property for the new website. This property must also be verified using the suggested methods. Once complete, from the old domain property, navigate to this section.
Thankfully, Google have a 301 redirect check test where you cannot proceed unless the 301 redirect is in place and setup correctly. Once you have completed the checks, you can submit the change of address request to Google and if successful, you will see the “Submitted” block of text at the bottom of the page.
Now that you have completed the request, you will want to submit the new website sitemap and fetch all pages on Google for a fast index of the new site. It is also the perfect time to check that everything has been setup correctly with no mention of the previous brand.