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11 Steps: How To Change Domain Names & Keep Rankings

There are 11 important SEO steps to consider when redesigning your website and more importantly switching domain names. Because the concept of time is awesome, we’ll jump right into them.

1). Export URL’s using Google Webmaster tools

If you’re taking your internet marketing & SEO seriously then you have Google Webmaster tools installed to monitor your site’s performance. If not, no worries. Simply install Google webmaster tools onto your old site before you design your new site. Export Google’s list of indexed URL’s on your old site into an excel document. Now you know which blog posts & interior pages have the most authority on your old site. These are the url’s that you should be sure to redirect to a subsequent matching new url on the new site.

2). Beware of Content Duplication During Beta of New Site

Ensure that your development environment or beta sections of the new site are excluded from search engine’s view until the new site is officially live and until all redirects from the old site are set up.

3). Keyword Ranking Check

Take note of which keywords you are ranking for in Google. Put these in an excel document with the URL ranking that keyword.

4). Note Old Title Tags, Content, & Url Structure

Take note of the title tags, keyword URL structure, and keyword density of those pages that host ranking keywords. For example, if your “about us page” is ranking for the keyword “San Diego Surgery”, then take note of the title tag used on this page and the content layout. You’ll want to emulate this on the subsequent matching page of your new site.

5). Choose Desired Target Keywords

Pick your target keywords prior to website design. Include old keyword you currently rank for that you want to keep rankings for.

6). Keyword URL Mapping

Group 2-3 keywords to rank per page. Then determine which keywords will be assigned to which new pages of your new site. Consider how old keywords need to fit into the new pages.

7). Mock Up New Site Content & Images to Match Keywords

Draft up the content that will help individual pages rank on your new website for matching keywords. Consider the layout of the old website’s content that ranked keywords to help structure what should work on the new site.

8). Complete Interior Page & Homepage 301 Redirects

-Using Google’ Webmaster’s tools’ list of old url’s…. go ahead and set up 301 redirects from old interior pages and blog posts to the subsequent matching new interior pages and new blog posts. This step is crucial for maintaining SEO legacy and link juice from the old site. Then setup the 301 redirect from the old domain to the new domain. If you aren’t switching domains in your redesign then you don’t need to worry about this.

9). Generate New XML Sitemap & Upload to Google Webmaster Tools

Submit your new sitemap to Google via Webmaster tools immediately. This manually gives Google a layout of all new pages of your new website.

10). Request Manual Crawl and Index of Your New Site

Using Webmaster Tools you can manually ask Google to crawl your site. We always do this in addition to the sitemap submission for precaution.

11). Update Old Social Links & Neighbor Links

Try to update your social media profiles, bookmarking profiles, and neighbor links as quickly as possible. Neighbor links are those links which you may control such as links from another web property, mini-site, or your mom’s blog. Even though these old links will redirect from your old site to the new site (via the 301 redirects you setup in step 8)… the links will be more powerful if they link directly to your new site with optimized keyword anchor text.

Of course there are many other on-page and off-page SEO factors that contribute to your keyword rankings. (Keyword Rich Domains Win Always) These 11 we believe are most crucial and most controllable without making heads spin. If all goes according to plan here’s what you can expect.

Check out these Redesign Results!


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