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Steps To Move to a New Domain

The following describes the steps you need to take when moving from one domain name to another on the same server or hosting account, and how to prevent a drop in ranking. It's best that you don't change the design layout when moving to a new domain so wait a few months after the search engines have completely indexed the new domain. If your site has been penalized by Google's Panda or Penguin algorithms then you should start over with a completely new domain and don't set up redirects from the old domain or the penalty will be transferred to the new domain.

Cpanel changes on your preferred domain hosting account:

  • ___ Log into your preferred domain cpanel and set up an "add on domain"

Change the following on the new domain files (on your computer)

  • ___ Copy old files & images to new domain folder
  • ___ Change emails on html pages to the new domain
  • ___ Change all BASE href or canonical urls to new domain
  • ___ Update Charset or other outdated code
  • ___ Change URLs in footer and copyright date
  • ___ Change URLs in header
  • ___ Change URLs in menu
  • ___ Set up NO INDEX meta tag on all pages (temporary)
  • ___ Set up Robots.txt
  • ___ Turn off all adwords/advertising & update URLs (temporary)

Load new site pages onto server:

  • ___ Load new domain files & images onto new domain
  • ___ Set up htaccess only for parsing includes and 404s
  • ___ View all pages to see if anything is missing

Set up 301 redirect from old domain to new:

  • ___ Set up 301 redirect on old domain's htaccess from OLD dom to new (takes 1 hr +)
  • ___ Verify proper 301s with server/header checker
  • ___ Add other redirects/rewrites in htaccess (non-www to www, etc)
  • ___ Check all htaccess redirects/rewrites
  • ___ Remove Noindex from meta tags from all pages

After 301s from old domain to new are working

  • ___ Set up emails for new domain in cpanel
  • ___ Set up any email forwarding in cpanel
  • ___ Link formmail.pl file from preferred domain to new
  • ___ Edit formmail to reflect new domain and new emails
  • ___ Change email on all contact forms or mailto links
  • ___ Verify formail is working (send ltr to owner)
  • ___ Verify that custom 404s are working
  • ___ Check for broken links with Zenu Link Sleuth
  • ___ Change URL on Sitemeter/StatCounter
  • ___ Set up GWT (Google Webmaster Tools) for new domain (remove old one)
  • ___ Set up Google Analytics for new domain & add new code to all pages
  • ___ Set up a sitemap & submit to Google
  • ___ Change as many links pointing to old site as possible
  • ___ Get new links so rank doesn't drop due to changes
  • ___ Point all your social media sites to the new domain
  • ___ Turn all adwords/advertising back on with new URLS

After 1-2 weeks:

  • ___ Verify Google has indexed all new pages
  • ___ Watch for 404 errors in GWT
  • ___ Remove old domain after 180 days (says Google)
    (check with first host to make sure your new domain is now the preferred domain)

When to expect website to recover

Google says you may experience short term fallback for keyword ranking for 7-30 days then up to 90% pages should be indexed over next 90 days and then full strength after 90 days.

Please let know if I've left anything out.

Lori Eldridge
Copyright © 12-27-13 - Updated 11-04-18
All Rights Reserved

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