It’s typical that at some point that you may need to move another domain name. For example, maybe you’ve purchased a better domain name. Or you acquired a company and you’re moving that company to your domain name. Or you’ve bought a shorter domain name and need to move. I talked with someone whose website was always on the .org TLD and bought the .com version of their domain name. But they need to move. There are many considerations and tasks that must be completed in order to move without running into issues. For example, if you don’t move properly and set up redirects, you’ll end up losing traffic and search engine rankings. Or could run into other issues, such as passing on a search engine penalty from one domain name to another.
Regardless of the reasons why you’re moving, I highly recommend always doing your due diligence on the domain name you’re moving TO. Performing due diligence could be a whole separate blog post–and I’ve covered that topic numerous times in articles and on the Digital Marketing with Bill Hartzer podcast. To be safe and minimize risk, you should consider putting up a small website on the domain you’re moving TO, verify it in Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools, and waiting. See if it can get its pages crawled and indexed. Check the links. Make sure there aren’t any issues. Once you’re comfortable that there are no issues, or you’ve cleaned up any problems, you’re ready to move. Here is my checklist for moving to a new domain name.
There are several “phases” to moving and migrating to another domain. Pre-move, Pre-planning, On Moving Day, and After Moving Day. That’s how I’ve put those into different phases.
- Make a backup and copy of your current website.
- Move copy of website to the new web hosting account.
- Crawl your website, saving URLs and other data in a spreadsheet. Make a URL list for the setup of 301 Permanent Redirects, used later on in this process.
- Review current site for references to old domain, update copy, and make-ready for new domain name.
- Perform due diligence on the domain name you’re moving to.
- Check links to your current website, making note of most powerful links from other websites.
- Verify site in Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. Include both the current and new domain you’re moving to.
- Submit URLs of new website to Google and Bing. For example, submit the site’s home page using Google’s URL Inspector Tool.
- Write a press release about your brand moving to new domain name.
- Set up HTTPs on the new domain name.
- Start new marketing campaign(s) to help awareness of your new domain name.
- Plan a date and time to move to the new domain.
- Detail the process for moving. Who is responsible for what (in your organization)?
On Moving Day
- Add 301 Permanent Redirects on the old domain name visitors are redirected to the new domain name.
- Test redirects using server header checks. Ask a friend in another location (using another ISP) to check the redirects to make sure they are working properly.
- Crawl new website, checking for internal errors, any references to old domain name. Fix all errors found.
- Notify Google of change of URL address using their Change of Address form.
- Update Google Analytics with new domain.
- Check Google Analytics for referring URLs (sites sending traffic), notify those sites about change of domain.
- Update social media profiles with new domain name.
- Update email signatures, email addresses with new domain name.
- Update business cards with new email address, new domain name.
- Update company internal themes/documents with new domain name.
- Update company newsletter with new domain name (send out newsletter?).
- Distribute press release about moving to new domain name.
- Update PPC campaigns with new domain, run PPC campaigns to compensate for any possible traffic loss.
- Notify your customers, clients, and business partners about moving to the new domain name.
- Contact link owners of most powerful links to old site. Tell them about new domain name.
After Moving Day
- Watch Google Analytics for changes in traffic.
- Watch current site for any search engine ranking changes.
- Work on getting new links to the new domain name.
As I’ve mentioned, this is a guide to moving and a basic checklist to migrating to another domain. Of course every situation is completely different, but the concepts are the same. There may be other tasks that you need to add to this list, and some you may just overlook. Questions or comments? Feel free to get in touch.