Moving Domain Names Dangers

by Jim February 26, 2018

With our battle against .au still raging, this week has given me time to once again raise the serious issue of changing domains. Regardless of whether .au ever comes to fruition (hopefully not!) you should be aware of the dangers posed by changing domains.

What I learned

• Be aware of the pitfalls presented by a domain change

• Many businesses are unaware of the dangers

• Google will assume your site is broken if you push it live without re-directs

• How much revenue would you lose if your site went dark?

• You must follow the transition checklist

Transcript

Hey welcome back, Rankers. Been an interesting week. A lot of people are very angry about the new .au registrations and I want to talk to you a little bit today about sorts of things that could go wrong when you are moving domain names, because it doesn’t just apply to this.

We have done a lot of these sorts of migrations and there’s some traps for young players that you need to know. But in case you don’t know what I’m talking about as far as the direct au stuff goes, just head along to smartcompany.com.au and just do a search for auDA and you’ll find everything about it. There’s about 176 comments there so far and there’s more coming out on it this week. So a lot of people are very angry.

I’ve put in a lot of questions to auDA but have not received any response. Thank you to the people who emailed them last week and asked for the recordings to be released. They’re not going to release them, even though they were a public forum. Anyway.

Avoid Domain Pain

So I wanted to talk to you a little about, there’ll be more coming, don’t worry, lots of people interested in this story. I wanted to talk to you a little bit about moving domains. So one of the questions that was asked by a panel member at the public forum was he didn’t understand how a business could be hurt by this change.

So one of the ways that this could happen, and I wasn’t allowed to answer that question, it seemed that nobody wanted to know what the answer was. One of the ways that a business can be damaged by a different domain name extension is simply if they choose to rebrand under it. Now, as I’ve said before, if there’s a good business case for moving to direct au registrations let’s hear it. I’m open. But we haven’t heard that business case. Now let’s just say you do hear the business case and let’s just say you decide to use this domain extension. If you were to just switch it on that would be a disaster, you would lose all your Google search traffic, pretty much. Because Google would see your site as broken.

Now this happened to a bunch of NRL teams back, jeez a few years ago now. But we were contacted by Melbourne Storm at the time, and they’d lost all their traffic from Google. They’d disappeared from Google search because they pushed a new site live and they hadn’t done any re-directs, so Google thought the site was broken. So, that was on the same domain, you can get it wrong like that, as simple as that. So for two weeks, they had no Google search traffic. So if you’re a retailer, what would that do to your business?

With a domain change, we’ve done a few of these and what we find is the stronger the brand, or the more traffic that an existing site has, the smoother the transition will go. If you’re a smaller brand now, or if you’re still building your brand, or if you’re a smaller business, or even an SME, you might find the transition very, very difficult, because we did it last year, ironically because I was moving from .biz, which I had a .biz domain name for 20 years, moving to .com.au, because it has a better brand. And now it looks like they’re going to mess with that.

So, this is what happens, right? Now we did it properly. So the way that you have to do this is you have to map all your URLs, you have to re-direct them to the existing URL’s, or sorry, re-direct them to the new URLs on the new domain. You also have to make sure that you are getting different sub-domains right. So if you’ve got say, a .dot for a mobile site, you’ve got to do that one as well. And just your www’s, are you using www at the other site? Your old domain? Well, you’ve got to make sure you have that consistent across the new domain as well.

Out With the Old

So the last big one of these I did was for ProBlogger. So we went from ProBlogger.net to ProBlogger.com. That was a relatively smooth, didn’t have that many hiccups or problems because it had such a huge amount of traffic and for some reason Google was just treating it really, really nicely. But other ones that I’ve done, like ours, say ours, you can see there we went, pushed the new domain live here and bang. And we lost probably 50% of our traffic for about eight weeks. Now in addition to doing all the re-directs, you have to set all the relevant domains up in Google search console. You then must also do a change of address in Google search console. And of course do all the normal sorts of things that you would do for a domain change and site change and new website going live. And then you to monitor it like crazy and the index. So what you want to see is your old domain slowly disappear from the index, and depending on the size of your site and how popular your site is, that can take a long time.

Now for us, where we don’t have a massive brand or anything like that, so we were pushing Google a lot during those eight weeks to hurry up and get the old site out of the Google index and get the new one indexed. And that’s part of the thing that takes time, you’ve got to keep watching that, finding out what happens. And then eventually your traffic will come back.

Just be aware, if you are thinking of moving to a new domain, whether it be .au or anything else, hopefully not .au, hopefully we can stop that, but if you are thinking about moving to a new even top level domain, just be aware of those changes. You can’t just switch it on. You see some sites will duplicate themselves if they just switch on. So all of a sudden, if we had just switched the .com.au on, well our site would be available at .com.au and .biz and then we would have two sites live. So we’ve seen that happen a lot too. So you’ve got to be really, really careful with these things. Hopefully, that’s helpful. Stay tuned. Please follow me on LinkedIn, Facebook and of course head across to YouTube.com/JimBoot and subscribe. We’re upping the ante on the .au registrations, so there’ll be more content coming out during the week. Not just our Monday show. Thank you very much everyone and we’ll see you soon. Bye.

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