So you have to do the inevitable, what every SEO specialist dreads – you need to change or migrate your domain name. Whether you are changing your domain due to a change of flagship at the hotel, incorrect keywords in the existing domain, or any other reason, that name change is sometimes unavoidable. While there is no quick fix for this daunting task, the SMX West 2012 experts have given us some great tips on how to make the transition as seamless as possible.
Without a doubt, any website that is migrating will have some fallout during the transition. In order to minimize the migration losses, you will need to recognize the risks and take a follow a few tips in each of the following three phases of a domain change process:
- Discovery and Data Collection: before you commit to a domain change, you must first look at the viability of the new domain and your existing domain.
- Ask yourself, is the new domain adding keyword value? Vital geolocators? Will it benefit your hotel and the sites findability?
- On your existing website, measure the following key performance indicators at a minimum:
- Know your top performing pages
- Know your internal link structure
- Know pages indexed, date cached, and other key performance indicators etc. before and after on a monthly basis
- Measure your social impact
- Planning and Implementation: during this process, it’s vital that plan for the transition. It’s not quite as easy as simply picking the site up moving it to a new domain. A few key tips are to:
- Protect your developing site (disallow robots.txt). This will ensure that it is not crawled, and that you are not flagged for duplicate content.
- Run and store a full report all of the content on your site that you have an audit of the existing content. Site Audit: SEO, Information Architecture (organizing and labeling website content), User/searcher experience
- Set up your 301 redirects for each page, particularly for those top performing pages. While it takes time, it’s important that you do not simply implement a site-wide redirects. Retaining the site hierarchy can help preserve the value of the redirecting links and the new site altogether.
- 3. Launch and Clean Up Phase: the launch and clean up phase is where you will can see the product of your efforts during the previous two stages.
- Check the new site in all browsers: one issue that many run into is the
- Measure the results: You can expect to see a drop in rankings and views for the first two to four weeks, but if you have done your homework for the transition, you should see this the indicators improve thereafter!
During the migration, it is important to audit your information architecture, page labeling, minimize duplicate content, verifying that there are no 404 errors, and link development
One of the most important factors to ensuring that your site on a new domain is a success is to remember the links. A few of these helpful tips for this are:
- Crawl your existing links: a great tool for this is Bing’s Webmaster. This will not only give you a full report of your links, but is also provides a summary of the anchor text associated with links.
- Update the links that you can manually: these links may include paid listing and enrollments, domains, self-published links, and direct relationships where you can directly address these links.
- Prioritize the links that you need to update: these links valued can be weighed based on link count, if it followed v. not followed, the linking anchor text’s value, and the domain and page authority.
- Replacing what you can’t update: this is vital to ensure that you are maintaining the clout of your website based on its links authority.
In conclusion, if you must migrate your domain, be sure to do so diligently and deliberately. Take into account ‘what’s in it for the hotel’, come up with a plan, and be sure to measure everything.
- Christine Churchill, President, KeyRelevance (Moderator)
- Jessica Bowman, CEO, SEOinhouse.com
- Rhea Drysdale, Co-Founder & CEO, Outspoken Media, Inc.
- Ryan Jones, Sr. SEO Strategist, Team Detroit
- Dana Lookadoo, SEO Consultant and Trainer, Yo! Yo! SEO
- Shari Thurow, Founder and SEO Director, Omni Marketing Interactive
Contributed by Brittany Bingham, eStrategist