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Richard Gabel
Coworking, Office Space and Meeting Rooms / Strategic and Business Planning Consultant
Issaquah, Washington
Posted by Richard Gabel, Issaquah, Washington | Aug 29, 2010

Subscribe to The Biznik Community Is changing my URL killing my SEO

I'm considering changing my URL to be more reflective of my business and easier for people to remember. How can I do this while minimizing the damage to my SEO? Should I just use a redirect instead.

I also wonder about using permanent or 301 redirects vs. plain old redirects that GoDaddy lets me give a title and assign keywords to. I've always heard to use a permanent redirect, is that always the case?


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12 Bizniks have posted replies

  • CTO - Chief Technology Officer At Large 
Seattle, Washington 
Andrew Lippert
    Posted by Andrew Lippert, Seattle, Washington | Aug 29, 2010

    Richard,

    The best option is to host your new domain on your existing server and point it to your existing site. Then, slowly transition your various links to the new domain name. This would include switching over email traffic. When all your external links have been updated, you can put in the redirect from the old domain to the new. The 301 code says - moved permanently and should be used when everything is finished.

    One important point, if your individual internal page names change, you'll want to redirect them independently as well. And keep your old domain running for a minimum of 6 months.

  • eLearning, Presentation Design, Web Video, Voice-over 
Mercer Island, Washington 
Jim Dickeson
    Posted by Jim Dickeson, Mercer Island, Washington | Aug 29, 2010

    Although I can't say I've done this mid-stream for a URL, I'm doing something similar with YouTube channels, and I think it would be a similar analogy.

    I originally set up a YouTube account with my last name as a user name. Then YouTube came out with channels, automatically making your user name your channel name, and my business name made more sense. So, new account new channel with the business name.

    My various videos have always had links in the description fields to my other videos (as well as links to my web site). Since I now have the same videos on two channels, the links in the descriptions of the videos on the old channel point all to videos on the new channel (and of course the videos on the channel only point to new channel videos). Eventually, when the videos on the new channel have logged more views and "likes", I'll just remove them from the old channel and use that for personal stuff.

    Sorry for the long story, but I think you could do something similar with your web sites. Make them identical and keep both running in parallel. But make the menu of your old site point (with absolute links) to those pages new site. It will be seamless to the visitor. That way you can milk the last few drops of Google juice from the old site. Who knows, maybe having your old site pointing to the new site will give you new site a bit of a head start on ranking.

  • Coworking, Office Space and Meeting Rooms / Strategic and Business Planning Consultant 
Issaquah, Washington 
Richard Gabel
    Posted by Richard Gabel, Issaquah, Washington | Aug 30, 2010

    Andrew and Jim,

    Thanks for the great input. Should my concern be only with the pages that are ranked by Google or all pages?

  • Computer Repair Technician 
Kent, Washington 
Andrey Rozmaity
    Posted by Andrey Rozmaity, Kent, Washington | Aug 30, 2010

    You would want to do it for all pages. You don't want to lose visitors because of broken links (your old url path will be cached until google updates the change and other sites linking to you won't have new domain).

    If possible, for both domains have a custom error file that either takes the visitor to your homepage or lets them know that what they're looking for has moved and they'll find it here: ____.

  • Coworking, Office Space and Meeting Rooms / Strategic and Business Planning Consultant 
Issaquah, Washington 
Richard Gabel
    Posted by Richard Gabel, Issaquah, Washington | Aug 30, 2010

    Thank you for the help Andrey.

  • eLearning, Presentation Design, Web Video, Voice-over 
Mercer Island, Washington 
Jim Dickeson
    Posted by Jim Dickeson, Mercer Island, Washington | Aug 30, 2010

    Hey rich,

    Andrey makes a comment about losing visitors because of broken links. It occurs to me that you should reach out to those linking to you and inform them of the change. I think Google Analytics can tell you who many of them are.

    First, like Andrey says, you don't want broken links on those sites. Second, if those sites them self are popular and relevant, those links impact your new page ranking.

    Jim Dickeson
    Import Export Geeks

  • Coworking, Office Space and Meeting Rooms / Strategic and Business Planning Consultant 
Issaquah, Washington 
Richard Gabel
    Posted by Richard Gabel, Issaquah, Washington | Aug 30, 2010

    Thanks Jim. It sounds like this is going to be a real bear.

  • eLearning, Presentation Design, Web Video, Voice-over 
Mercer Island, Washington 
Jim Dickeson
    Posted by Jim Dickeson, Mercer Island, Washington | Aug 31, 2010

    No worse than selling a house and buying another. And moving. And changing all the addresses for credit cards, magazine subscriptions, and what all.

    Jim Dickeson
    Import Export Geeks

  • Computer Repair Technician 
Kent, Washington 
Andrey Rozmaity
    Posted by Andrey Rozmaity, Kent, Washington | Aug 31, 2010

    If all you're doing is changing your domain (the URL structure of blog is staying the same) and your webhost is a linux server/running apache you can easily solve this problem by editing your .htaccess file on the old domain ftp account (if you'll have 2 account).

    Here is what you would want to add to your .htaccess file (old domain account):

    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteBase /
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !newdomain.com$ [NC]
    RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://newdomain.com/$1 [L,R=301]

    (change ONLY newdomain.com to your new domain, leave the $ and /$ alone :P )

    If your hosting account (for old domain) doesn't have a .htaccess file, you can create a text file with the code above, uploaded it through FTP, and then rename to .htaccess

    Good luck! I hope the "conditions" for this "easily solution" match what you have.

  • Coworking, Office Space and Meeting Rooms / Strategic and Business Planning Consultant 
Issaquah, Washington 
Richard Gabel
    Posted by Richard Gabel, Issaquah, Washington | Aug 31, 2010

    Andrey,

    I hope the new developer/host understands this. Thanks!

  • Computer Repair Technician 
Kent, Washington 
Andrey Rozmaity
    Posted by Andrey Rozmaity, Kent, Washington | Aug 31, 2010

    I poked around on your site... and I'm pretty sure its a Windows Server. They should be able to find you another solution (same result).

  • Animal Removal Services 
Naples, Florida 
Kenneth Udut
    Posted by Kenneth Udut, Naples, Florida | Sep 02, 2010

    I've hesitated about that as well. I would love to change the internal structure and everything on my site, but to do so would be nightmarish. Even making small changes to my site causes Google to completely rescan my site, which is a strain on the server and shifts things around in the serps.

    So I only make changes when I'm certain they'll work first time, because the big bear will come over, poke through everything, and leave the campground a mess. Bing seems to be better at handling changes to sites - but I suspect Google will get there one day.