Domain Name Change Best Practices and Checklist
I recently changed the domain name of few sites and moved to new domains. Not all sites could retain the original traffic after the domain name change. In this article, I will discuss the steps involved in changing the domain name and also give a checklist you can use when you change the domain name for a website.
Google gives some guidelines and tips on how to effectively change the domain name of a website without losing the traffic and ranking. I learnt few additional lessons after I changed the domain name of our websites. I am sharing some tips which I could not find anywhere else on the web. This is my first hand experience on changing the domain name of MyWindowsClub.com to Techulator.com
Follow these steps when you change your domain name
File DMCA complaints against sites which copied your content and get all content copied from your site removed from search engine indexes. If a lot of content is copied by others, your new domain may be classified as 'copy cat' by search engines since they do not have much authority built and search engines may be mistaken that you are the copy cat.
Setup 301 redirect in your site to redirect old pages to new url.
Add new site to Google Webmaster Tools
Setup address change in Google webmaster tools to let Google know that you are moving from old domain to new domain. This will help Google transfer all ranking from old domain to new domain.
Add new site to Bing Webmaster tools to manage your website in Bing Search.
Increase the crawl rate for new domain in Google webmaster tools so that Google will index the pages faster. (Default rate is 0.5 requests per second and 2 seconds delay between requests. I increased it to the max - 2.25 requests per second with 0.444 second delay between requests)
Check email ids associated with the domain and make sure any other places you use those email ids, you change your email ids so that you can continue to access those accounts after you lose your email ids. You may want to contact your clients and contacts and let them know about the new email ids.
Update your Rss files and Sitemap to use new domain names.
Change your Facebook page and other social network pages to use the new name. If you have more than 100 LIKEs, you may have to abandon your old page name and create a new user name.
Inform all your Fans and friends about the change in domain name.
Search the web for the links to your old domain. Contact the webmasters and request for change of domain name in the link.
have you been doing Link Building? Check all the links you built so far. Try to change all of them to new URLs.
Contact all text link advertisers in your website and inform them about the change in domain name. Some of the advertisers may want to cancel the deal since your new domain may not have the same ranking and popularity they are looking for.
Change the "Original Feed" in Feedburner. The original feed include the RSS file location of your old domain and it must be updated to point to the new domain name.
Change Feedburner Feed URL to match the new domain name if needed. Read how to change Feedburner url without impacting the subscribers
Some newsletter providers may require you to re sign up all of your members with the new domain name. Check with the Newsletter provider and figure out the changes needed.
Are you participating in any link-exchange? Contact your link partners and get the links updated. Let them know that your domain is changed and within few weeks it will pick the ranking.
Contact advertisers and inform about change in domain. If needed, create accounts with Ad networks for the new domain. Update your Ad scripts to match the new domain. Many ad scripts from third party ad networks may stop working if you change the domain name.
If your new domain is not in the allowed list of sites in Google AdSense, add the domain to the list so that you will not lose any AdSense revenue.
Change your AdSense URL channels to track revenue from new domain.
Change name of custom channels to match new site name (you may lose your direct advertisers)
Inform your members about the change in domain and request further cooperation.
Work with email service providers to white list emails from your new domain.
Update Google Analytics tags and any other statistics tracking tags.
Go to Digg.com and re-digg all your web pages
Is your blog/website listed in blogger/website directories? Contact them to update the domain name.
If you have a newsletter, send out a newsletter from old domain alerting users about the change in site name and domain name.
If your bank account is in the name of the website, inform the bank and update the details.
Do you refer to urls within your site using absolute urls? Edit all urls and change to new domain.
Do you refer to images in your site using absolute url? Edit all articles and use new url.
Are you changing the domain name due to a domain name dispute or trademark violation? If so, review all of your other websites and make all necessary changes to avoid repeating the same mistake there.
Make sure mails are not going out as SPAM. Ask your friends to make the emails NOT SPAM so the email service providers will know they are not SPAM.
Verify your Google+ profile against the new domain name.
Change your mindset. Adapt yourself to the new name. Start using the new name when you refer to your website.
Don't forget to read our case study on changing domain name of popular sites.
Did I miss any steps that is worth adding to this checklist for changing domain names? Please let me know by posting a feedback below. I will add them to the checklist.