Moving your Site to a New Domain Name - Scary!!
The Google Central Webmaster blog has posted "Best practices When Moving Your Site"; and it confirms everything my team and I have been preaching for years and adds some additional good stuff. A summary in my own words:
- Use a 301 redirect on a file by file or directory by directory basis (this is really hard)
- Check to see if the new pages are in the index and the old pages are being taken out
- Don't change too much at once. Move the entire site, let it settle and then throw up a redesign or vice versa
- Watch to make sure pages aren't ending up in 404s unless absolutely unavoidable
- Make sure all internal links are pointing to the new domain
- Try (this is really, really hard) to get external links pointed to the new domain
- Keep the old site up and running for a while (Google suggests 180 days). [I would never give up control but I might take it offline]
- Submit a sitemap to all engines that accept the standard
They suggest using Google Webmaster Tools on both domains to help track 404s and to ensure that 301s are working. Some great questions and comments follow the posting.
Thanks for the validation and the great information Google.