Moving your Website Content to a New Location or Domain

Moving Website Content

google webmaster toolWhen you decide to move your content to a new location, it is important that the search engines understand your new site structure. It is also helpful if you create a website that is more user-friendly, inviting and interesting.

While moving to a new location requires more effort, webmasters must do it properly and follow the guidelines provided below:

1. Redirect your users and bots that visit your old website location to the new location by using 301 redirects. To make the two locations connected to each other, you must highlight the relationship of the two and make sure that the old URL points to the new URL of the same content. If you cannot use 301 redirects, you might consider using cross domain canonicals for search engines.

2. Check if your new and old site location have been verified in the Google Webmaster tool account.

3. Check also if your new website location is crawlable by the Googlebot through Fetch as Googlebot feature. It is also crucial to note if Googlebot can easily access your new content in the new website location. You have also to make sure that old URLs are not blocked by robots.txt, so that your directives rel=canonical can be found.

4. If you are moving your content to the completely new site domain, you can use Change of address option under the site configuration tab in Google Webmaster Tools to let the search engines know about the changes.

5. If you also have changed your site’s URL structure, you have to make sure that it is possible to navigate without running across 404 error pages. Also in Google webmaster tool, you can potentially check broken links and other errors on your site through navigating to the Diagnostics tab then crawl errors.

6. Check if your Sitemap is up-to-date.

7. When you have already set up your 301 redirects, keep an eye on users to the 404 error pages and make sure that the users are redirected properly your new pages and not accidentally ending up on broken links. Once you found out that some of your users are not redirected properly to page they supposed to be visiting, make changes to your 301 redirect rules as appropriate.

8. Take a look at the Links to you site in Google Webmaster Tool and tell the search engine of the important sites that are linking to your content.

9. You may want to check the geotargeting preferences of your new site in the Google Webmaster tools if your site is specific to a particular region.

10. As a general rule, you must at least avoid running two crawlable sites with largely similar content without a 301 redirects or rel=”canonical” directives.

11. Last but not the least, it is recommended not implementing some major changes in your content when moving to a new location. Changing too much in the large-scale content, navigational updates and URL structure at once might confuse users and search engines.

Al Gomez

SEO Consultant, Online Marketer & Blogger, Web Developer & DLINKERS Founder.

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