Since going freelance over 6 months ago, I have helped a few small businesses with domain migrations, making sure that they’re all done in an SEO-friendly fashion.
What is a domain migration? Some people might call it something else (e.g. site migration, domain change, etc.) but it’s basically the case of moving your site from one domain to another. For example, I might consider moving SEOno.co.uk to SEOno.com, with all of its URLs following suit – e.g. SEOno.co.uk/category/seo/ would become SEOno.com/category/seo/, with the former (ideally) redirecting to the latter in each and every instance.
A simple domain migration is when none of the URLs are changing (except for the domain itself). Obviously a domain migration involving a complete URL restructure can complicate things slightly.
A tale of 3 domain migrations
There’s a number of reasons why someone might want to migrate domains…
In one of the cases, the client mainly wanted to move from a .co.uk to a .com (to improve his chances of rankings more globally and attracting international enquiries) but also wanted to use it as an excuse to ‘rename’ the business slightly.
For the other two clients however, it was my recommendation. They were using EMDs (Exact Match Domains) – i.e. keyword-heavy domains (e.g. seo-in-cardiff.com rather than actualbusinessname.com) – which I have never been a big fan of, so I recommended that they migrate to more brand-focused domains, which I thought would improve their click-through rate from the SERPs and look more trustworthy to searchers. In both cases we had only just started working together, so it made sense to make the change ASAP, before tasks such as link building and citation building were carried out in full force.
While all 3 sites are only small (we’re talking no more than 100 indexed pages for the biggest; only 20 for the smallest), they all had different circumstances, with none of them being quite the same. Only 2 of them were migrating from EMDs to branded domains. Only 2 of them were retaining all the URLs on the new site (i.e. not changing any URLs around in the process). Only 2 of them mapped out the redirects (with one of them, all the old domain’s URLs simply redirect to the new domain’s homepage instead). And only 2 of them utilised the Change of Address tool in Google Webmaster Tools.
Here’s a table, because none of that probably made any sense…! Please forgive the plainness of its appearance (there’s a good reason why I’m an SEO and not a graphic designer):
Click to read more!