Moving a site from one domain to a different and taking a whole new name is a tedious process. Of course, anyone could just move on a whim, but that might cause a bit of confusion if your site gets a nice chunk of visitors. Sometimes the reasons behind making this change are important:
1. The previous domain name no longer reflects what you are trying to convey to the public
2. You found a better domain to help brand you either personally, or as a business
3. You hate the domain name and got lucky enough to grab up a cool one
4. You hate the domain name, it is about to expire, and so you found a better one
For what its worth – It happens a lot! However, here are some things you might want to do before you move.
Announce your move ahead of time. You may have just grabbed that domain, and have already started moving the files, but you need to tell your visitors. Two weeks is good. One month is even better.
Move in stages. You should put a redirect on your current site two weeks before you make a final move. Park old domain and redirect it to the new one afterwards if you still own the registration. Whether you keep that domain, sell it, or eventually let it go, for those who missed the memo, this might allow your site to retain as many as your usual visitors.
Inform your link exchanges and affiliates immediately. If you change even your site’s blog address, your link exchanges need to know. These are suppose to be people you have contact with.
Inform all of your visitors and social network followers several times. It might be annoying, but people forget or miss the message because they were not online when you made the site announcement. Make sure to encourage them to subscribe to the new site’s feed, newsletter, and also pass the word on about the exchange.
Tell your search engine that you moved. You can do this by putting a 301 permanent redirect. However, for sites that have been around for years, you might want to park the new domain on top of the other and promote the new one to not lose traffic.
It might seem dumb to have to tell people you moved, but it really is nice to do and allows people to follow you. I have moved in the past and there are people that find me on occasion. Until last year, I still had a very old Geocities site with notice that the site had moved to Blondish.net. I was pleasantly surprised that there were people that were still finding me through there too. Even though Yahoo! Geocities no longer exists, I am grateful to have retained a heavy amount of traffic from my visitors that have been around for the past few years.
What other suggestions do you have for people that are changing their domain name or will be in the near future?