Get new domain and new design without losing existing search engine traffic

April 27, 2009

One of many things that we discuss with our clients is rebuilding their websites to reflect the new image of their company. Normally, these design and content changes are accompanied by a domain name change. Obviously, no one wants to lose the traffic that comes from the search engine high rankings and to start doing the SEO work from scratch neglecting the effort that was invested in ranking the original website. In order make the transition seamless and to follow Google's best practises advice we recommend taking the following steps:­

1. Move the website from the old domain to the new one before­ doing any content or design changes. It is important to consider ALL of these factors:            

    1. Use 301 redirect to permanently redirect the pages
    2. Make sure that you do a proper redirect of all internal pages. So, if your old domain is and your new domain is your internal page should redirect to not just to the home page. Some websites contain a considerable amount of internal pages and making a manual redirect for each one of these pages might take a significant amount of time. That is why we advise to use one of the following solutions:
      1. If your website is coded in php and all pages contain a common header file, use the following script that will automatically redirect your visitors to a relevant page on a new website using 301 redirect:

        $newDomain=""; //your new domain name$innerPageURI=$_SERVER['REQUEST_URI']; // this variable contains inner page path
        header("Location: ".$newDomain.$innerPageURI); // the actual 301 redirect function

      2. If your website is hosting on Apache server and you do not want to you the above option you can use mod rewrite option. In order to do that you need to create a .htaccess file in the root folder of your website and save the following information inside of it (where is your new domain name):
        RewriteEngine On
        RedirectMatch /(.*)$$1

2. Check that all the redirects are done properly and that you do not come across "Page not found" errors.

3. Wait and make sure that Google indexes all or at least most of your new domain pages instead of your old ones by doing the following search in Google:
where is your new domain name. Once, Google has indexed all your new domain pages your can confidently start changing the structure of your old website on the new domain.