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web site migration impact on search results

Move Your Website like Matt Cutts: 8 Ways to Keep Your Search Rankings

If you are moving your web site to a new host or migrating to a new domain, here are some tips I dug up from Matt Cutts.   In general, moving sites is pretty easy these days, even with dynamic content.   So if you are getting ready to move your site, here’s eight tips from the Google Webspam expert.

Moving to a New Web Host

If you are moving to a new host, that is a little simple than changing you domain name.  Matt offers this advice:

  • Lower the timeouts (TTL) on your DNS to be lower – such as 5 minutes.
  • Leave content live in both locations and monitor traffic to old host.
  • Once there’s little traffic on old host, you can get rid of your old host.

Domain Name Changes

In 2011, Matt offered some great advice on how to change to to a new domain.    Here three key tips from this video:

  • Don’t just park the domain. Put up a single page so that Googlebot knows it is a real site and not just a parked domain.
  • Move the site in stages by moving sub-directories and examine how Google ranks the new domain.
  • Using Webmaster Tools to identify top inbound links and write to them to ask them to update their links.

 

Matt offers a warning that if you are going to change both URL structure and domain name, you should try to do this in stages.

How Downtime Impacts Your Site

If your site is down for a day, this is usually not a problem.  But you are down for 2 weeks, Google could stop listing your site.

 

Spam Domains

If you happen to move your site to a domain that used to spam, you will have issues.  Matt recommends filing a reconsideration request if you plan to remove all content from the domain.

PageRank and 301 Redirects

The amount of PageRank that dissipates through a 301 is currently identical to the amount of page rank that dissipates through a link. — Cutts

 

So the take home is that 301 redirects are no-worse thank linking to another page.   So if you are changing your domain name, then you should use a 301 and not worry too much about a PageRank — yes you will lose some PageRank but no more so than if you put up a page with a link to your new site.

Website Speed

If your web site is slow, moving to a new host could help.  Here’s Matt’s take on how site speed impacts search engine rankings.

Relevancy is the most important but page speed is still a factor in rankings.     Page speed is only 1 of over 200 factors.

Unique IP Addresses & Different Country TLDs

You don’t need a unique IP for the country specific site.   However, there is strong evidence that if you host that site in that country, there is a boost.

As long as you have different top-level country code domains, we are able to distinguish between them. — Cutts

 

Virtual IPs & Dedicated IP Addresses

I could not dig up a video on this one but found this myth busting post on Matt’s site.

Actually, Google handles virtually hosted domains and their links just the same as domains on unique IP addresses. — Craig Silverstein ca. 2003

In my experience, using a virtual or dedicated IP makes no difference with SEO.   Google has long been able to spot cross linking between domains and considers it spam if the domains are unrelated.

More of Matt?

If I missed any more of Matt’s tips on migrating hosts or changing domain names, let me know.  In general, I find people worry too much about the impact on SEO and search engine rankings.   If you migrate properly, you should see very few issues.

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