SEO & Switching Domains

Goodbye old friend. Hello shiny new domain!

Recently I moved my company’s domain from KatzWebDesign.net to KatzWebServices.com to reflect the change of the business name (over one year ago) from Katz Web Design to Katz Web Services, Inc., to reflect the in company services offerings, and to have a .com domain.

This is a simple switch, not re-launching a new website — just moving the same site from one domain to the next. Here’s how I approached the switch, and it’s a solid method to use for any domain switch:

A week before:

  • Make sure the new domain works properly
  • Start pointing some new links to the domain (which will just be parked on top of the current site)

On the day of move:

  • Add the website and a site-map to Google Webmaster Tools
  • Update the .htaccess file to move permanently move the domain

    RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^katzwebdesign.net(.*) [NC]
    RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.katzwebservices.com/$1 [R=301,NC,L]

    For great .htaccess tips, check out corz.org.

  • Update the site map to reflect new domain addresses
  • Fill out a change of address form in Google Webmaster Tools
  • Request people you know link to the new domain

Week after move, you should slowly change existing backlinks to the new domain

  • Update profile pages (LinkedIn, Facebook, MerchantCircle, Google Profiles, CitySearch, you know the drill)
  • Email webmasters and request link changes be made

Matt Cutts tells people to change things slowly and steadily so Google doesn’t freak out:

Note: changing your IP address, webhost, domain name, blog template, and blog version all at the same time is the exact opposite of what you should normally do. It’s better to change only one thing at a time so that if something goes horribly wrong, you can trace what caused it.

What I experienced

Google showed both domains for a while until they completely updated their index. An example: when searching “Denver web design,” they showed katzwebdesign.net. When searching “Denver SEO,” they showed katzwebservices.com.

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  • socialamigo

    I am curious whether after the move and “the settling” if you noticed any link-suffering as the result of changing the domain. I have done a few of these in the past and it’s always seemed to be a crapshoot about how much pain (and explaining) will be involved.
    Thanks.

  • http://www.trail-running-blog.com/ pchieng

    My domain is expiring very soon, maybe I should think about switching over to a new one. The dashes in the URL do not look very good..