Donuts Blog

A collection of blog posts from Donuts.

Overview

In changing your web address, several factors come into play—primarily, updating your Internet identity without losing search engine advantage. The following is a brief tutorial, for the technology initiated, that helps you do just that.

The best strategy for migrating to a new domain is through redirection. That is, when a web server receives a request for a website’s content, rather than returning anticipated content, it can return a code that tells the requester that the site has moved, redirecting them to the new location. This is very common and is imperceptible to your visitors. Best of all, it will maintain your search ranking, and inbound links will continue to work.

The following is a basic summary for the general case and assumes, as often is the case, that your website is using Apache. (There are, naturally, other scenarios that require additional detail work—you’d be wise to plan carefully for and/or get assistance for other configurations or platforms.

Before You Begin

Be sure to set up your website ahead of time, responding to the new domain—test it to ensure it’s functioning properly. You may need to update links on your site if they point to the old domain name. Verify that all your images and other content are working.

Avoid changing the content of your site before the move. In particular, don’t change the URLs of any content whatsoever—if you’re considering a redesign of the site, do so only after a successful move.

Redirection

The redirection response your web server will use is: 301 Moved Permanently. This is very important: such a specific response tells search engines the content still exists but is located elsewhere. Using this code means your ranking and indexing for that specific content will be maintained, but attributed to the new domain name. This tactic is widely used, is recognized by search engines and is recommended by Google.

Set up your web server to redirect everything using the “301 Moved Permanently” response for all requests to the old domain name. If your URLs stay exactly the same, all you need to do is edit your .htaccess or site configuration file for your old website.

Example Configuration Snippet:
RewriteEngine ON
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://donuts.domains$1 [R=301,L]

Copyright 2015 Donuts Inc.

If you must change the URL structure of the new site, you’ll need to set up a URL mapping on your web server for every URL that changed from the old to new site.

Content URLs Changing using a URL Map:
RewriteEngine ON
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} ^(?!.+)$
RewriteRule ^dpml/?$ http://www.donuts.domains/services/dpml [R=301,L]
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} ^(?!.+)$
RewriteRule ^dpml/faq/?$ http://www.donuts.domains/services/dpml/dpml-faqs
[R=301,L]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://donuts.domains$1 [R=301,L]

Tell Google

Use Google’s Webmaster Tools to tell the search engine about your new web address. Do this using the Change of Address tool under the gear icon when logged in. Additionally, it’s a good idea to submit a site map.

Both actions will speed the discovery process and get your new domain name indexed sooner.

After Migrating

Be sure to test the site to ensure all links are working and content is found. Using your webmaster tools, verify that traffic to your site still is in the normal range.

Update the world about your move: Do some marketing for your new site, or at least issue a press release after the move announcing the new domain. Don’t forget to use social media platforms and e-mail newsletters—these will notify customers as well as generate new inbound links, which boost your search ranking.

If possible, reach out to webmasters for other sites that link to yours and ask them to update their links to the new domain.

Finally, monitor your web server logs for 404 Not Found errors. If you find this type of effort, there may be some content you didn’t migrate or redirect properly.

Conclusion

With a few simple steps, you can ensure you migrate to a new domain name without losing “Google love.” Take advantage of new naming options that are specific and relevant to your mission, and take care to thoughtfully move your site to your new domain name.

Copyright © 2012–2017 Donuts Inc., 10500 8th Avenue, Suite 1450, Bellevue, WA 98004. All Rights Reserved.
DONUTS, the DONUTS logo, and other trademarks, service marks, and designs are registered or unregistered trademarks of Donuts Inc. and its subsidiaries in the United States and in other countries.
All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.