Are you looking to move your blog or website to a new domain name? A new guide offers step-by-step instructions for moving to a new online address with your traffic and search rankings intact.
There are many good reasons why you might move your website or blog to a new domain name. With a huge selection of new Top Level Domains now available, there are lots of opportunities to find the perfect name. A good domain name can offer advantages for search engine optimisation. You may be rebranding, changing focus, or wish to reflect a new phase in your site’s development or business journey.
When it comes to blogs, one reason is perhaps most common of all. Many bloggers begin on a trial basis, using one of the free services, such as WordPress.com or Blogger.com. What began as an experiment may not have involved much thought regarding domain names – or even the title of the site. A blog’s theme may not be obvious at first, even to its author. A blog’s audience may emerge from an unexpected quarter. Blogging can be a very personal thing by its nature, and for many bloggers it can take time to find a voice. Sometimes the best advice is to just start blogging – and worry about branding and naming later.
At events like Bloggerconf, the two most common questions by visitors to the Blacknight stand are about moving a blog to a new domain name, or to a new host. It’s important to remember that these are two different things.
The Domain Name System (DNS) is a global address book which matches domain names to IP addresses. IP addresses are numbers identifying hosts, computers which store the website files and serve requests for access to the websites.
Hosting is a broad term, covering the hardware, architecture, network connectivity, operating systems and services involved in serving requests for internet services such as websites or email.
Your choice of domain name, therefore, is entirely up to you to choose, for marketing, branding or aesthetic reasons. And it’s completely independent of your hosting.
That’s a crucial point made by the new guide on How to Move your Blog to a New Domain. While it’s often the case that a blogger may wish to move both their domain name and their hosting, it can be a good idea to take them one at a time.
The guide, which was produced for the .BLOG and .UK domain registries, is ‘platform independent’. It covers the steps you need to take whether your site is hosted with a hosting company like Blacknight, or with a platform like WordPress.com.
Put Your Identity First
If you’re thinking of moving both your domain name and your hosting, consider moving the domain first. As the guide points out:
Upgrading to your own domain puts your identity first and allows you to remain platform independent. This allows you to move between platforms without changing your address.
Blacknight is both a domain name registrar and a hosting company. So you could choose to register a new domain name with us, and continue to host your site elsewhere. The point is that, once you register a domain of your own, you are in control.
Registering a domain name with Blacknight comes with the benefits of our enhanced DNS service using ‘anycast routing’, so that users can access your websites faster, from anywhere in the world.
How to Move your Blog to a New Domain is an 18-page PDF which outlines the steps needed to migrate to a new domain, covering a range of hosting scenarios. We recommend reading it, even if you plan to get a developer to migrate the domain name, rather than doing it yourself. It’s written simply and straightforwardly, and it will help you to understand process involved.
In addition, our customer service staff are available to advise on your particular situation and, depending on your requirements, we can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you.
The guide breaks the task down into four phases:
- Knowing when you need a domain migration (and when you don’t)
- Pre-launch: Planning a migration
- Launch: Going live with your new domain
- Post-launch: Monitoring your migration
Redirect – Keep Your Traffic and Search Ranking
The aim of a successful domain name migration is to retain the traffic and search engine rankings you’ve already built up, and transfer them to the new domain. If you’ve built up a following at your old domain, your readers know where to find you. Others will have re-blogged you, or included links to your old domain on their sites. These ‘signals’ contribute to your score on search engines such as Google, which they use to decide how highly you rank in search results.
The guide explains how to configure your web server to use redirects, telling browsers and search engine robots that your website has a new address. This should be a 301 redirect, indicating that the move is permanent, and instructing search engines to pass all authority associated with the old page to the new one.
If the new site on the new domain uses exactly the same paths in the URLs, you can do a domain-wide redirect rule – one rule to capture all uses of the old domain. Or you may need to configure individual redirects for different pages on your site.
This is why it’s important to conduct a thorough assessment of your site in the preparation phase. That includes generating a sitemap of the current site, assessing its current SEO, and its status in Google Search Console. It’s a good opportunity to fix any issues which your site may currently have, for example 404 errors caused by a page you might have removed, but which is still getting traffic.
An important tip is to make sure that the robots.txt file on your web server is configured to stop search engines from indexing the new domain before the redirection is ready to implement. Otherwise, Google will think the new site is a rip-off of content on the old site, and penalise it. Once you’ve put the redirect in place, you can amend robots.txt for the new domain, and Google will understand that the new domain is the legitimate successor to the old.
Get a .BLOG Domain Name
How to Move your Blog to a New Domain, answers many of the questions we get asked by bloggers and owners of websites large and small. Often these are people who have seen success with their initial publishing efforts, and now they want to transfer the credibility they’ve earned to a brand of their own. We think it answers the most important technical questions about this process, but we’re always interested in hearing from customers, and helping them to choose a solution that fits their needs. Just give us a call.
Update – July 2018: Now you can register a .BLOG domain for just €1! Simply enter your chosen .BLOG domain name and click search to go to our store and see if it’s available. Then add either Web Hosting (12 or 36 months) or BaseKit SiteBuilder (12 months) to your cart.
* Price excludes VAT and applies to new .BLOG domain names. Only one free domain per hosting/BaseKit subscription. Domain names will renew at the normal price after the first year.