Admittedly, moving your domain to a new one can have an adverse impact on your SEO rankings. Why, you might ask? Because rankings are based not just on the page level metrics but also on the domain level metrics so touching or moving the domain basically resets your metrics back to zero. Below are some tips to somehow minimize the negative SEO Orange County impact of domain transfer:
Inventory. Jot down all the pages on your current site. This is essential when you create the 301 redirects which will allow the channeling of the traffic from your old site to your new one. The 301 redirect is considered to be the most efficient and SEO-friendly method of webpage redirection.
Holding Page. Creating a holding page will let Google know that you own the domain and you are in the process of building the new site. This is also especially helpful in link building because you are trying to establish domain authority even before the site is completely launched.
Broken Links. Before making the site “live,” be sure to check for broken links and all the existing ones are working properly. If they are, then it’s time to show the world wide web your new site.
Webmaster. Be sure to add and verify your new domain to your webmaster tools account. There are several ways to do this:
- upload an HTML file to your domain server
- add a <meta tag> to your homepage
- Google Analytics
Create and submit through your webmaster tools the updated XML sitemap of your new site. The sitemap, as the word suggests, guides the search engines when crawling your site and introduces them the structure of the new site. The sitemap will also tell Google how often you update your pages.
Build a 301 redirect file. 301 redirect should normally be done on a per page basis but if this proves to be too laborious, what you can do is 301 redirect all pages to the homepage of the new site.
Using the webmaster tools again, use the change of address tool to notify Google that you want your new site displayed in the search engines in favor of your old one.
Monitor. When everything’s done, you will notice that your rankings and traffic will drop, but this is not a cause for concern. Once the new domain’s 301 redirect filters through the authority of your old domain, you would start gaining grounds in ranking and traffic again.
It is a good practice to have a benchmark of your old domain’s traffic and ranking before the change of domain for you to determine if it has any major impact or not.
For site rebranding or redesign, it is also a good idea if you launch your site by moving it first to the new domain before launching your redesign. It helps minimize the impact on user experience which is the ultimate goal of any SEO Orange County campaign and the ultimate priority of search engines when ranking your site.
Michael Brandt is the founder and CEO of Drive Traffic Media. Before starting the company in 2009. Michael saw a future in digital marketing from the get-go.