Moving a site to a new domain can be a scary thing for site owners, especially if it’s in the fashion sector. If anything goes wrong, there’s a chance it could damage your brand and have a negative effect on sales. Hurting your site performance is simply a no-go, so make sure you do it right.
Fashion brands in general rely on thousands of visitors using their site every day to make conversions and maintain the fact they are a source of information whether it’s through blogs or making sure they’re supplying the season’s latest releases.
So how do you make the transition painlessly and make sure you keep traffic flowing smoothly? The answer: through a great deal of careful planning.
So with this in mind, I’ve created a short list of tips to keep in mind when moving your site to a new domain, and how best to avoid those horrible 404 (File Not Found) errors that really harms the user experience and potentially puts you out of favour with Google’s algorithms and search results.
Right now I’m going to cover how to move your site over to a new domain, for example, changing www.moveyourfashionsite.com to www.moveyourfashionsite.org.
Here are the main things you need to consider.
Testing, testing, 123?
A good idea before moving everything over completely (and a safer one at that!) is to test the move will work by relocating the contents of one of your directories first. After you’ve tested that everything fits ok, then and only then should you use 301s redirects to permanently redirect every page of your old site to your new site. This lets Google know that you have moved over too.
Check, check, check.
Once you’ve completed your 301 redirect for your test pages make sure to check that your pages are appearing in Google’s search results. This is especially important as the last thing you need is to find out that something has gone wrong along the way and you don’t have a point of reference to go back to. Once you know this is working, you can start to move your entire site over.
Slowly but surely wins the race.
Don’t rush into anything and do everything at once. A blanket redirect may damage the user experience, especially if you’re not matching your site page for page.
Don’t try and do two things at once.
In the fashion industry, rebranding is an extremely powerful process and something that takes time and consideration. Take the same time and consideration and put it into your process of moving a site over, don’t try to rebrand and move at the same time. Move first and then rebrand as it not only reduces the amount of changes a user will see, which can be jarring, but it also helps keep the process smooth and allows for easier troubleshooting if problems do arise.
Make sure your links have been updated.
After you’ve spent so much time cultivating strong links for your website with fashion bloggers, you need to make sure they’re adding value to your new domain. Of course, contacting each webmaster asking for them to change the thousands of links you’ve gained is in no way practical so this is another reason to double check your 301 redirects. Complete a scan of all your incoming links via a software such as Majestic SEO and then make sure each of the destination URLs for those links have been included in your 301 redirects. The 301 redirects will transfer the bulk of the link juice to your new pages. If you do not have an exact match on your new site for an old page just 301 redirect to the most relevant page on your new site, usually a level up in your site navigation.
Link your site to your Webmaster Tools account
After you have verified your ownership of your new site, make sure to submit a sitemap listing the URL’s on your new website as this ensures Google knows that you’re up and running and that it can start crawling the content and present it to users. If you fail to do this you risk not being ranked for those terms you’ve spent so much time climbing up the ladder in Google for.
Keep control of your old domain
It’s a good idea to keep control of your old site domain for around 2-3 months if possible and keep it verified, along with your new site, in Webmaster Tools. This allows you to keep on top of any crawl errors and ensure that your 301 redirects from the old site are all working correctly and allow you to find any 404 errors that could damage the user experience.
Moving over to a better looking domain is often good for business and helps your site look good in the customer’s eyes. Of course these are just a few tips on how to move a site over correctly, but through careful planning and with a little patience, you can make sure you look good in Google’s eyes too.
If you’re thinking of moving your domain, speak to an expert at Hit Search today on 0800 011 9226.