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    Website Migration SEO Concerns


    I have been doing SEO for a while, but there are always questions that come up and I was hoping someone could give some advice on the current project I'm working on.

    I have a client that would like to migrate his site to a new domain. His current domain appears #4 for the most popular keyword phrase, which is also his domain name.

    So, for hypothetical example, his site is widgetsdetroit.com where he appears in the fourth slot for users searching "widgets detroit" on Google. He'd like to migrate his site to detroitwidgets.com.

    How will this affect the Google search ranking? It will be a carbon copy of the site, but I realize he will probably get knocked back for basically resetting the clock for the site.

    How important is word order for domain name keyword optimization? Also, since there will likely be a delay in the transistion, it's possible he will have both sites up at the same time for a little while. Does Google frown upon this in any way?

    Thanks in advance!
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    Ok, either it's a really dumb question, traffic moves slow here, and/or this is the wrong place to ask. ;)
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    Don't fix it if it ain't broke.
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    That is sage advice, but in this case, my client was threatened with a lawsuit because his domain name was actually a registered LLC business name. So, obviously there is not much choice in the matter.
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    Originally Posted by freezseo
    That is sage advice, but in this case, my client was threatened with a lawsuit because his domain name was actually a registered LLC business name. So, obviously there is not much choice in the matter.
    What did his lawyer say?

    It's usually not much of an issue unless they're in the same industry... (or they have really good lawyers....)
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    There is a bit of danger here, but as Jsteele suggested, what did HIS lawyer say? Don't get bullied by bored attorneys.

    REgarding the switch, it will be a totally new web site and it will take a couple to a few months to recapture the original rankings assuming two things: A) You still have control of the old domain and are capable of 301 redirecting that web site to yours. B) The redirect transfers 100% of all link juice to the new web site.

    We know B is not true but it's close to 100%. So cross your fingers you'll eventually come back to #4. When that is is anybody's guess. You'll also want to go on a campaign to get more links to the new domain, and also work to change the existing links to the old domain so they point to the new one. That mean less links will require the redirect.
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    The lawyer made a weak case and after my client hired his own lawyer and quickly spent a bunch of money, he realized it wasn't worth the fight.

    Anyway, the slow migration of pages with 301 redirects seems to be the best move. I'm not hosting the old domain, so it's up to the previous webmaster to comply with my requests to implement the migration strategy.

    In the meantime, I'm working on contacting/reestablishing the old backlinks and planning for site content changes related to SEO (focusing on long tail).

    My client wants to implement a blog and add a lot more content, including video. But I'm hesitant to go through with it right now before any of the 301 redirects have been crawled. Teaching my client patience has actually proven to be the most difficult obstacle. ;)
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    site migration


    I would advise you not to have both sites up at the same time. Google doesn't like that. Also age of site will not stop you from getting your rank back. I've seen sites created and optimized and within 1 week appear at the top of google. So good luck
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    Originally Posted by freezseo
    The lawyer made a weak case and after my client hired his own lawyer and quickly spent a bunch of money, he realized it wasn't worth the fight.

    Anyway, the slow migration of pages with 301 redirects seems to be the best move. I'm not hosting the old domain, so it's up to the previous webmaster to comply with my requests to implement the migration strategy.

    In the meantime, I'm working on contacting/reestablishing the old backlinks and planning for site content changes related to SEO (focusing on long tail).

    My client wants to implement a blog and add a lot more content, including video. But I'm hesitant to go through with it right now before any of the 301 redirects have been crawled. Teaching my client patience has actually proven to be the most difficult obstacle. ;)
    You do'nt need the old host to comply, you need to put the right redirects in your htaccess file on the new web site. You also should keep all file urls the same, that way you only need to change the domain name in your redirects. Also, hae all the content ready to go on new web site (and don't keep the old one up).

    1 switch and cross your fingers!
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    Originally Posted by minimag
    I would advise you not to have both sites up at the same time. Google doesn't like that. Also age of site will not stop you from getting your rank back. I've seen sites created and optimized and within 1 week appear at the top of google. So good luck
    Can you provide a source or link that says Google doesn't like duplicate content?

    Besides, Google would never know there is duplicate content. The htaccess file is the first file read and that redirects all traffic to the new site before any of the pages on the old site are loaded.
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    Originally Posted by djstreet
    You do'nt need the old host to comply, you need to put the right redirects in your htaccess file on the new web site.
    Um...no.
    If this were the case, I could redirect traffic from any site by simply redirecting pages with the htaccess file on my host. I could tell it to redirect all traffic going to Google to point to my website. This is why you have to have access to the htaccess file on the site's host from which you wish to redirect.

    Anyhow, this is no longer an issue as I've been granted FTP access to the old site and have updated the htaccess file there and it is working as it should.

    You also should keep all file urls the same, that way you only need to change the domain name in your redirects. Also, hae all the content ready to go on new web site (and don't keep the old one up).
    I have to keep the old site up, or the redirects disappear. If this doesn't make sense, I recommend studying up a bit on how redirects work. Google actually recommends that you keep the site up for 180 days to make sure the redirects allow them to index the new site.

    http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=83105&hl=en

    1 switch and cross your fingers!
    My fingers are crossed, but I'm not really superstitious.
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    The point I assumed was you had control of your own server to update the site's (old) htaccess file. That's hosting 101--have control of your own affairs. If you don't you have a horrific or unprofessional hosting situation.
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    Let's put it this way...

    Somebody contacts you and says they have someone else who built their site and they want to hire you for SEO and webhosting. This other person is hosting the site currently. Ideally, the client should own the domain. That way, they give you their domain login where you can point the DNS to *your* web server. Otherwise, there is no chance of hosting their domain.

    In this case, the client paid the previous webmaster to buy, manage, and host their domain. The transfer could not occur without the previous webmaster's permission. Make sense?

    This is now a moot point, per my previous post.

    As far as SEO goes, I've researched this up and down and I think the final verdict is that nobody knows.

    You make the necessary changes and hold your breath...
    Last edited by freezseo; May 5th, 2010 at 05:26 AM.
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    301 Redirect seems to pass on 90% of the link juice. The age of the site can cause problems but might not. I just combined two sites I had into one and I can see the rankings improving slowly now after 2 weeks.
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    Thank you Enderhall. This seems to be pretty accurate based on how things have played out so far. Actually, in this case, it seems to be closer to 100% so far, but the results may be muddled by all the recent backlinking.

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