Proper planning prevents poor performance, a truth like a rock and of course it’s also applicable when you think of moving your website to a new domain. Moving a website might sound more easy than packing up your stuff in real life, but be aware of the small mistakes that may cost you a lot of money and traffic.
Prepare your goodbye carefully and make sure you have a new place to live in. On the internet this means securing yourself of your next domain name and not plan any move before acquiring your new location. It is also advisable to set a deadline of your moving in order to plan better and work towards a viable length of time to relocate everything. You wouldn’t want to be moving overnight, right?
Once you have found your new online spot, it’s safe to check if the server meets the requirements you were counting on. Better to find out now then later. Another check to perform is the broken link check, as absolute links on your new webpage might still point to the old location after you have moved the site.
When the worst part, the actual moving, is over, you want to make sure you properly redirect people from the old to your new site. For websites hosted on an apache server the redirecting can be done in the .htaccess file. A global redirect is possible given you don’t modify names and location and would usually look like this:
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.newdomain.com/$1 [R=301,L]
A manual redirect will take a lot more time as you will have to insert the redirect code by hand into every page with the following code snippet:
Redirect 301 /oldpage.htm http://www.site.com/page.htm
When redirecting a site, some of the old link juice for search engines will invariably be gone after moving your site to a new domain and search rankings will be negatively influenced. The 301 redirect will keep some of it though and usually your ranking will go up again after a while.
Be patient to build up your new location and if the rankings are vital for you, it’s wise to only move your site when your new location is already fully operational and ranking rather well in the search engines.