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glyn

Handling A Domain Name Brand Change

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I'm going through the motions of the best way to handle a change in domain name. A client will shortly be rebranding their company and this involves a domain name change too. All that will happen during the name change will be a logo change (literally swapping out the existing logo on the html pages of the old website). All other elements of the website will be exactly the same - same content, same html pages, same everything.

 

I have been thinking about three possible approaches.

 

Approach one: Create a copy of the site.

In this approach I will copy the existing website to a new folder on the webserver. I will then map the new domain name to that folder and create 301 redirects from every page of the old website. I see the benefit of this approach as being that any references to the old website domain are always found, and that any Page Rank or all the other non measuable factors get passed to the new domain, and the fact the old site is still there (even if it's not actually accessed) is a safety measure.

 

That is because

 

olddomain.com/aboutus.html 301's to newdomain.com/aboutus.html.

 

Approach two: Use a blanket redirect.

In this approach I setup a redirect all traffic to olddomain.com to newdomain.com. The problem with this approach is that if a website has created a specific link to a page on my website, the user will click that link and be sent through to newdomain.com instead of newdomain.com/specificpage.html

 

Approach three: Just change the domain and leave it.

In this approach I setup a redirect which forces any requests for olddomain.com/aboutus.html to be rewritten newdomain.com/aboutus.html. It's not clear to me whether using this approach allows for a clear signal to the Search Engines that the domain has now changed. In other words is there still the ability to inform the requester that the domain is now newdomain.com.

 

At the end of the day any one of the above approaches will be fine when left over time. I'm more keen on "Approach one" as it kind of removes any doubt, but I'd like to know if I'm missing any approaches or whether you've had similar experiences.

 

Server type: Microsoft IIS/6.00

 

Cheers

Glyn

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That's all under the hood stuff, Glyn, and for certainty I would go with the first approach.

 

However all those human visitors won't necessarily be aware of the change and may not change their bookmarks. I presume this brand change is supposed to bring new and exciting changes. So as part of the marketing launch (including lots of blog notices) make this a very visible change to all those who are interested.

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Here are some of the things that I would do....

 

 

1) Claim both domains at Google Webmaster tools.

 

2) Add a few signs for visitors that you are changing address on specified date

 

3) Place the contents of the old domain on the new domain without modification. Keep content and file names the same - but change the signs to say "this is our new address... we used to be olddomain.com" (don't make big content changes yet.. you want google to know that only the domain has changed.)

 

4) Go to Google webmaster tools under Dashboard >> Site Configuration >> Change of Address and let them know you are moving

 

5) Do a page-by-page redirect of old domain to new domain with 301 redirect

 

6) Watch the SERPs for new domain to assume old domain ranking

 

7) When SERPs are stable under new domain gently start making any content changes

 

8) Keep 301 redirect on the old domain

Edited by EGOL

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FWIW There's also a cool new tool in Webmaster Tools: the change of address tool that will transfer everything from one domain to another one (you just need to have both sites verified in your account + the redirect should be 1:1, if I'm reading your post right, that would be your first suggestion).

 

Here's the Help Center article on it: http://google.com/support/webmasters/bin/a...py?answer=83104

 

Cheers

John

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Thanks for your inputs.

 

EGOL I follow your thinking but let's say I'm looking beyond Google towards search engines such as Bing? What I want to do is ensure that I'm providing all the right indicators to the search engines. I'm assuming that the important ones will accept a 301 as a clear server side signage that the domain has now changed.

 

To avoid a redirect loop on the server using redirects (which could happen if I just switch out the domain names and then try and redirect /aboutus.html to http://www.newdomain.com/aboutus.html - which is still the same folder as before) - I think that's right - I figured on a copy of the website to another folder to allow me to redirect on a page by page basis and avoid the loops. I'm pretty sure that you can only redirect /file.html and not olddomain.com/page.html to newdomain.com/page.html?

 

Make sense?

Glyn

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I successfully moved domains a couple of years ago.
Just created a new account, 301 / in htaccess(es) for each subdomain also.

I still get Google alerts for the old domain links, so def. keep the old account running forever and a day.

Edited by jonbey

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John, I wonder what this means on the Help page:

If you submit a change of address notice redirecting traffic to your new site (www.example.com), you can't then submit another change of address notice specifying that the content on www.example.com has moved to a third site.

Am I right to suspect that they mean 'don't redirect to a 3d site immediately', not ever?

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Hi Yura

The idea behind that is that if you transfer A -> B, you shouldn't set up an additional transfer from B -> C, instead you should just cancel the transfer A->B and set up A->C directly.

 

FWIW This is just a requirement for this tool, it's not a general requirement for redirects. It's fine to have a 301 redirect from ancientsite -> oldsite -> currentsite, we'll pick that up with no problems (technically, it's similar to www.oldsite -> oldsite -> currentsite, which is very common). However, the fewer redirects you use, the faster everything will go, especially for users who can save yet another domain name lookup with all the latency involved with that. Users love fast websites :D. I imagine that also works better for most search engines as well, the fewer intermediate steps, the easier it is to correlate old URLs with new ones.

 

John

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I have to say I do like Bings Webmaster tools much more than Google's.

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