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Thread: The SEO Effect of Changing Your Sites Domain

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    5starpix's Avatar
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    The SEO Effect of Changing Your Sites Domain

    With the way search engine algorithms are set up, even the slightest changes can affect your rankings. Often times, your search engine rankings will fluctuate from one spot to another, but you may still want to track the trend. A very common issue some people come across is when they are switching to another domain. You may have your current site at an old domain, but wish to move everything to another domain. Obviously, the biggest issue you may have is the site’s rankings. The rankings for a new site will very much differ from an established old site. So, what is the proper way to get this done?

    When you purchase your domain name, avoid parking it. The best thing to do would be to have a hosting account ready to host the new domain name. Even if you are not ready for the move, try to put up a page with some content about the site. Search engines like Google have automated classifiers that will crawl through domains to see which ones are parked. Millions of domains are currently parked and you don’t want yours to be classified as such.

    Whether you are moving one single site or a few sites to one domain, it is best to start off small. Begin by moving one sub directory of your site, and not the whole site itself. By moving only a small directory of the site, you can test out the rankings for that particular portion of the site. You never know if the domain you just purchased is in need of a reconsideration request. So, when you make the first move, use a permanent 301 redirect. If the rankings do not follow through, you know that something just went wrong.

    If you have multiple sites that you would like to consolidate into one, it is wise to start with the site that has the lowest traffic and rankings. As far as the transition goes, you need to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as you want it to. Examine the rankings for this particular site and its content and see if the new domain has been indexed. Lastly, you want to move the site with the most amount of traffic.

    If you own all the sites and have control over all of them, you could register at Google Webmaster portal and add the verification code into the head section of each domain name in the move. This will allow you to get statistics for all the sites that are part of the consolidated move. The one thing you want to consider is the sites that are linking to your old domain name. Pick out the biggest referrers in the list and contact them letting them know that you have moved your site to a new domain. This will be great in terms of SEO, as the crawlers will follow through on this link structure change.

    It would be helpful if you can leave the old site up and running but with a permanent redirect to your new domain. This will tell both users and search engines that your site has been moved. This is completely normal and many people have done it like this and it has been proven to work just fine.

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    bogart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5starpix View Post
    . So, when you make the first move, use a permanent 301 redirect. If the rankings do not follow through, you know that something just went wrong.
    A domain will lose about 30% of the link juice through a 301 redirect. Though this may be worth it in the long term when switching to a higher quality domain. The best thing to do is to contact the people that are linking to you and have them update the link to the new domain.

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    bhartzer is offline Net Builder
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    bogart, where have you seen the 30 percent number? I've done some testing and am seeing about 15 percent link juice loss through 301s, but that was a while back.
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    I have seen this to be a variable and somewhat random issue. Today, all 301 redirects lose some PR and link juice. I have seen PR5 sites drop to PR3, and I've seen sites only drop by only one PR point.

    I don't think we can hang a specific percentage on this. There are probably several factors that do not pass link juice through a 301 redirect. From my experience, I would say that the drop can range from 15% to 30%. Almost everything with Google is variable. This is something that I tell clients is unpredictable. I suspect that the higher the PR, the greater the hit that the site will take with respect to PR. Another factor that could be affected is the strength of keyword reinforcement passed through hyperlink text, which in turn can affect trank positions.

    If I remember correctly, Will Spencer saw a sizeable PR drop a year or two ago when he changed the name on his main tech site. He has since gone back to the original domain name.
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." -- Benjamin Franklin


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    Quote Originally Posted by bhartzer View Post
    bogart, where have you seen the 30 percent number? I've done some testing and am seeing about 15 percent link juice loss through 301s, but that was a while back.
    Eric Enge discussed this with Matt Cutts awhile back. In a follow-up email it was confirmed that there is some loss of PR through a 301.

    A PageRank decay of between 15% to 30% for 301 redirects is a good range. Google makes changes to the algorithm on a daily basis. So, it's impossible to really set any number in stone.

    Eric Enge: Let’s say you move from one domain to another and you write yourself a nice little statement that basically instructs the search engine and, any user agent on how to remap from one domain to the other. In a scenario like this, is there some loss in PageRank that can take place simply because the user who originally implemented a link to the site didn't link to it on the new domain?

    Matt Cutts: That's a good question, and I am not 100 percent sure about the answer. I can certainly see how there could be some loss of PageRank. I am not 100 percent sure whether the crawling and indexing team has implemented that sort of natural PageRank decay, so I will have to go and check on that specific case. (Note: in a follow on email, Matt confirmed that this is in fact the case. There is some loss of PR through a 301).
    Read more: Eric Enge interviews Matt Cutts

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    I could see where the types of links driving PageRank could be a factor that adds variability.

    For example: Is the PageRank driven by 400 links from different sites or 1 link from a higher PR authority site?
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." -- Benjamin Franklin


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    Quote Originally Posted by TopDogger View Post
    I could see where the types of links driving PageRank could be a factor that adds variability.

    For example: Is the PageRank driven by 400 links from different sites or 1 link from a higher PR authority site?
    This makes sense. PageRank is an algorithm and there are many damping factors. Even factors outside of PR like trust.

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    ivvyevents is offline Newbie Net Builder
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    I think there is some speculation about the 301 redirect. There are plenty of places that use this method of redirecting and especially in case of the URL shorter. But, according to Matt Cutts, as far as we use those that use 301 redirect it will be passing all the link juice, so I just wanted to know if he just meant that it is quite better than those using other redirect methods or it just transfers all the link juice to the link that was shortened. This is just because there are a lot of people using this techniques especially on the social networking sites.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ivvyevents View Post
    I think there is some speculation about the 301 redirect. There are plenty of places that use this method of redirecting and especially in case of the URL shorter. But, according to Matt Cutts, as far as we use those that use 301 redirect it will be passing all the link juice, so I just wanted to know if he just meant that it is quite better than those using other redirect methods or it just transfers all the link juice to the link that was shortened. This is just because there are a lot of people using this techniques especially on the social networking sites.
    There is some loss of PR using a 301 redirect.

    The URL shorter falls outside of the scope of the Eric Enge interview.

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    bhartzer is offline Net Builder
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    If the link is shortened, then most likely it is going to do a 301 redirect (which most URL shorteners use). So, you're inevitably going to lose PR through that link.
    Need links? Try AuthorLinks where you can buy or sell links based on Authorship and Klout score. Check out my blog or like me on Facebook.

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