I used to break out in a cold sweat when clients would tell us that they were planning on moving their website to a new domain (or even worse, when the call came through to say that they had done it and were confused why their traffic had vanished…).
There are some genuine reasons why a domain change can be necessary but I think it is fair to say that most website owners do not appreciate the value of their aged domain (assuming that it has not been penalised or has a catastrophic link profile) and that the decision to move is often taken too lightly.
That said, the search engines have made huge leaps in their ability to cope with change and it now fills me with less fear than it used to. A by-product of Google’s minty fresh indexing is that things happen quickly and Google is far, far better at dealing with change.
That is not to say that you can happily go on making as many changes as you like without any consideration to search engines and there is a clear protocol to follow when migrating your site.
Google has just updated their guide for anyone thinking about migrating their site and it is definitely worth a read if you are thinking about making wholesale changes.
It is interesting to see that Google splits the move between infrastructure only (i.e. no url changes) and changes that do involve a url change, as the former shouldn’t really pose too many problems in my humble opinion.
I am also personally not so sure of their recommendation to split any move into smaller steps (although the advice is to do all URLs in one go) but there is no doubt that the step by step guide for making changes is both helpful and complete so thank you Google!
If you are thinking of a move but need some hand holding, you know where to come!