Moving domains SEO

May 1, 2017

Welcome back Rankers! Just did an awesome show but I didn’t record it. Oops! Just a bit of housekeeping to
start with. We are going to a conference on May 8 & 9 called Big Digital Adelaide. (Use this code for $100 off: jimstewartadl17) If you are going to that then be sure to hit me up and say hello. If you’re not going, why not? If you want to learn about digital stuff, it’s on, it’s in Adelaide, get there! There’s going to be a great workshop beforehand with Marty Weintraub who is a genius. He’s going to be talking about Facebook ad targeting. I’ll be talking about site migration.

Site Migration Varieties

Now there are different types of site migration. There is your HTTPS from HTTP site migration, there’s a new
site site-migration, say if you are moving from one platform to another. We moved from Mambo to Joomla! back in 2003 and then Joomla! to WordPress in 2009. Anyway, so there’s that type of site migration. The one I’ve been doing this week is on change of address, on domain migration.

So for instance, we’ve had the same domain for the last 18 years. We’ve had a website on that domain, stewartmedia.biz. Now back in the day when I had stewartmedia.biz a lot of my mates said, “Jim, why are you going with a .biz, why aren’t you going with .com.au?” I told them to simply mind their own business. No I didn’t. What I did say was that the reason we didn’t go with a .com.au back in the late 90’s was because we were doing a lot of streaming work with the U.S. back then and they didn’t understand what a .com.au was. Therefore we had to go with a Top Level Domain, couldn’t get the .com so went with the .biz. Now, we are moving to the .com.au because we think it’s time. It’s a pretty scary affair as you might expect, because having been on the one domain for so many years people will talk to you about ‘domain authority’ and all sorts of things that don’t exist.

What does exist, though, are things like backlinks to your site, traffic to your site, just general popularity of your site. Those sorts of things matter. And the actual pieces of content as well. When you are going from one domain to a different domain, and this is the third one I’ve done in the last twelve months, we’ve done Retail
Global (which is the other big conference in May that we always go to), ProBlogger, and of course our own stewartmedia.biz.
Now, when you move from a domain, so ProBlogger went from .net to .com, Retail Global moved from internetconference.com.au to retailglobal.com.au. When you’re doing those domain changes, you have to do a thing called ‘change of address.’

Change of Address

Change of address is a little function inside the Google Search Console. Therefore, you have to have both domains set up in GSC, and to do that both domains have to be live. There’s a list of about 42 things that we go through for a site migration, which I’ll cover in detail at Big Digital Adelaide. One of those things in the site migration when doing change of address is making sure you have both domains set up in GSC. The only way to do that is if both are live. Then, when you go into your GSC, you click on the gear icon in the top right, select ‘Change of Address,’

change of address
Change of address

and enter the URL that you are changing to. You will then get a series of progressive ticks.

change of address checklist
Change of address checklist
index anomalies when moving domains
index anomalies when moving domains

This one is saying that it is done, but it’s not. All our ranking phrases are still in the SERPs as stewartmedia.biz and haven’t yet clicked over to stewartmedia.com.au.

I check indexing every day when we are doing it. Here is stewartmedia.biz and we have seen a decrease in results, which is what we want. This morning, when I was checking the .com.au, and the results can bounce around a lot, on Friday it was 70 and this morning was 54. Then I did a thing where I submitted the old .biz sitemaps into the .au search console and got them crawled as well. The reason we do that, and we do it for HTTPS as well, is how does Google quickly find out that all the old pages have been redirected? Yes, we’ve done the change of address thing. Yes, we’ve done all the other things. However, what we find speeds things up is if we add the old sitemaps to the new search console. And that goes for HTTPS as well.

For instance, if you’re doing a HTTP to HTTPS migration, how does Google know where all those HTTP pages have gone until it tries to crawl them? Rather if you had your HTTP sitemap inside your HTTPS search console, Google would be able to get to that HTTP sitemap served over SSL and see the non-SSL URLs inside it. We find that does speed things up. Google does recommend it but don’t publicise it that much, which makes it hard to find a reference. But it works a treat and you should do it.

Expect a Fall

I fully expect our rankings to dive for a short period (I’m hoping no more than 48hrs!), and then to come back. At the moment, we’ve dropped off the first page for ‘SEO’, which is fine, as it doesn’t bring us good customers. At the moment the results are still based on stewartmedia.biz. When it moves over to .com.au, it’s probably going to drop even further and then we’ll leave it and wait. It could take 48 hours, it might take a week, but I’ll leave it and wait until I’m sure Google has done all of its adjustments and then we’ll look at where we’re ranking. The trick is not to get too upset.

As I was saying before, the Retail Global people were called Internet Conference, and they ranked number one
in Australia for Internet Conference. So if I type in ‘internet conference’ now, as you expect it’s an exact match
domain, Retail Global is number one for that phrase. They lost that rank for about a 48-hour period before bouncing back.
So when you are doing these site migrations, there’s a lot to go through and a lot to consider, but one of the most important things is being patient and waiting. Hopefully that’s helpful. We’ll see you next week. Bye.

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