• “SEO” Be Damned, It's Time Give Your URLs An Upgrade

    Give URLs Upgrade

    Web marketers have known for years that the words we use in page URLs were factored into the search algorithm. There has always been a debate as to how much of a factor these words contribute, but the general consensus is between a little and not much.

    In fact, for years SEOs cautioned against changing the URLs on your site for optimization purposes alone due to the potential loss of link value that happens when you implement a 301 redirect from an old URL to a new one.

    That factor has largely diminished over the years as search engines have gotten better at transferring value through those redirects and the (temporary, but hurtful) ranking losses that once happened as a result of those redirects have mostly disappeared.

    But still, a 301 redirect itself does cause some loss of value. We don’t know exactly how much, but I would guess that somewhere between 90-95% of the link value is passed to the destination page with 5-10% flying off into neverspace. That may not be a big deal if we are talking about a handful of redirects on a site with thousands of pages. But if you’re talking about site-wide URL changes, you could potentially lose 5-10% of your total incoming link value due to URL changes you have made.

    Even a 5% loss can be enough to see your site authority drop, causing a negative impact on your search engine rankings.

    URLs Gone Bad

    That fear alone has caused many SEOs to caution against changing URLs except in the most extreme circumstances. However, it is possible for URL changes to produce a gain equal to or greater than any loss incurred. This is often true when upgrading URLs from an old crappy looking stream of characters and numbers to something much more organized and readable.

    Here is an example of a URL from The Home Depot website circa 2008:


    Pretty hard to read, right?

    I couldn’t find the same book on the Home Depot website today, but here is a current URL for a similar book:


    Much better.

    The new URL uses valuable (key) words that give readers and search engines a better idea as to what the destination page is. That’s what I call a change worth making! Despite the loss Home Depot incurred by implementing a new URL structure (assuming they remembered to add the redirects), I’m sure the new structure provided some valuable gains.

    Making URLs Readable

    SEOs haven’t always considered URL “usability.” They typically approached it from a keyword perspective. But with today’s algorithms, usability takes front and center stage, which makes even keywords take back stage.

    While an argument can be made that the URL doesn’t matter a whole lot to the visitor, crappy URLs can still cause an element of reader discomfort. On the flip side of that, a readable URL can provide readers a significant reinforcement of the messaging.

    This is especially true when visitors are scanning search results. Typically, the searcher sees the title of the page, the page URL, maybe some rich snippet data and the page description.

    URL in search results

    Google gives the searcher that information because they have found that it is relevant information for the searcher to have. Back in 2013, Google tested search results without the URL. Seeing as those results never rolled out globally, we can only assume that the test proved that showing URLs is valuable.

    That tells us that the URLs visitors see need to have value! After all, it is a signal. Not just to search engines but to visitors who are contemplating what to click.

    Let’s look again at Home Depot’s new URL structure as illustrated above:


    Can we produce a better URL? Maybe this:


    Which URL gives you the most information?

    Obviously the second one. Not only does it tell you the name of the book, but it also tells you what section of the site the book was found in. That can be good information for the searcher to have!

    Unfortunately, neither URL is likely to be displayed in full in the search results. There is only room for so many characters available in that space, which means Google has to truncate the URL. You can see how they did that in the image above.

    But now, Google is giving us a bit more control over URLs both in desktop results and more recently, by default, in mobile results.

    Aligning Breadcrumb Trails with URLs

    For some time now, Google has toyed with showing breadcrumb trails rather than URLs in desktop search results. Here is a search result for Amazon’s page for the same book:

    breadcrumbs in Google search results

    Interestingly, the breadcrumb trail in the search result differs from that of the page:

    home depot breadcrumb trail

    Unfortunately, Google’s version is far less compelling than that on the page.

    On April 16, 2016, Google announced they are rolling out changes to how they display these URL/Breadcrumb snippets in the search results on mobile devices. Basically, two specific changes were made:

    1. The website name to be used instead of the domain name
    2. The URL structure of the URL as breadcrumbs

    As we showed above, Google has already been using a sort of breadcrumb trail instead of the URL in desktop search results when they feel it is warranted. This brings mobile in line with what they have (sometimes) been doing with desktop results.

    In the announcement, Google provided a link on proper breadcrumb coding, but the announcement specifically tells us Google is not using the breadcrumb trail as presented on the site but rather they are using the URL structure. I’m not sure why they chose the URL structure over breadcrumb trail, but that means the URL of each page on your site is pretty darn important.

    However, if I were to take a guess, I would suggest that Google wants to match breadcrumb structure to the URL structure. Ensuring these two are aligned will likely give your pages a much stronger signal to the site’s content and provide Google with a 100% clear indicator on how the URL crumb should display on mobile devices.

    Going back to my made-up Home Depot URL above, notice how it coincidentally coincides with the on-page breadcrumb trail:


    URL coincides with breadcrumb trail

    That’s a pretty strong signal for Google to use and provides you with increased opportunity to control the message Google displays in the search results.

    I’ve always been an advocate of matching URL and breadcrumb structure, but now this becomes almost essential. It’s no longer about adding keywords to your URLs but making sure your URLs align with your navigational structure. And going back further, making sure your navigational structure is user-focused.

    As URL and breadcrumb structure are (or should be) derived from the navigation structure, this puts extremely heavy emphasis on the users’ navigational experience. Get that wrong, and the rest won’t matter. Get that right, make sure the following URL and breadcrumb signals align, and you’ve got a bigger opportunity to present your content to your visitors and draw increasingly relevant clicks from the search results.

    If you were hesitant to change your URLs for any reason, those reasons virtually disappear now that the URL structure is making its way to prominence in both desktop and mobile searches. URLs are not just a signal of relevance for rankings but a very strong signal of relevance for the searcher on determining if your page is going to meet their search need.

    Side Note: Google is also now showing the business name, rather than the domain name, in the URL trail in search results. This is a boon to site branding! While this is currently only being rolled out on mobile, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this on Desktop at some point.

    The following two tabs change content below.

    Stoney deGeyter, Author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist and CEO & Founder of Pole Position Marketing, a leading online marketing strategy company helping businesses improve their online presence since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences all over the US, and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and website marketing related articles. If you’re looking to velocitize your web marketing, Stoney and Pole Position Marketing are the crew you need. Follow him at @StoneyD, and @PolePositionMkg.

    Latest posts by Stoney deGeyter (see all)

  • Why Twitter is essential if you are serious about Social SEO

    If you don’t already have a well established Twitter account, and even if you do, then the time has come to get busy with it.

    Why? Well, there are two levels to this:

    Firstly, Twitter struck a deal with Google to re-establish their access to data via a firehose earlier this year.

    Secondly, so many of the influencers you will want to connect with are much more active on Twitter than they are on Google+ right now. Putting it simply, you want to go to the room where they already are and start paying attention to them.

    And they are much more likely to pay attention if you have an established network that increases the reach of their own.

    The relationships I’ve built with some amazing allies comes as much from Twitter as it does from Google+

    And before long it may well start to signal to Search that content engaged upon by this well established crew should lead to the surfacing of content to a greater audience.

    As David Amerland says:

    “Twitter was critical to Google’s semantic search (http://goo.gl/Lv5Lmf) long before the deal was struck. Now that Google has direct access and a partnership of sorts your Twitter activities and presence become as important a signal on the web as your G+ ones.”

    And know that it is not about the numbers – none of our Twitter accounts have huge followings – but we have invested heavily in ensuring the people who matter to us the most feel the love, one tweet at a time.

    And you may well be already established, or want to build it the organic way, but I listened to a Hubspot event yesterday and see the advertising approach is really going to help people get their first 1000 relevant followers, and beyond…

    See you there! @PlusYourBiz and @MartinSherv

    For more great Google resources to help you get your business up and running check out the Plus Your Business website.

    If you enjoyed this post please like and share it now and do let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


    Martin Shervington has spent the past 15 years empowering others as an executive coach, personal development trainer, author and marketing consultant. As the founder and community manager of ‘Plus Your Life!’ and ‘Plus Your Business!’ he spends much of his time on Google+.

    “When it comes to social media, Martin Shervington is one of the most clever and hard working people you’ll find. He’ll help you take your game to the next level.”


  • Best SEO Hamilton Expands Services To Both Local And International Businesses

    Best SEO Hamilton, one of Canada’s fastest growing SEO companies in the Hamilton area is expanding its technology to keep up with its growing base of clients not just for those seeking local business services but internationally.

    “We have been lucky enough to work with so many companies over the years both in Hamilton and in different parts of the world”, explains a spokeswoman for the company. “And while there are a lot of differences, the main similarity with all of them is that they want to have more clients for their business. These days, knowing and understanding SEO techniques is not enough; the way to really serve our clients and get the best results is to use the latest industry technologies and tools that best serve our purposes.”

    Best SEO Hamilton uses the most updated SEO and digital marketing software applications to help them manage and solve technical issues that arise in different occasions. They combine this with the experience, knowledge, and expertise of SEO specialists who create the strategy and test the outcome of their strategic actions. “The SEO specialist is the driver, while the SEO technology and tool are the steering wheels of a car”, he explains. “They’re both important and can’t do without the other. The result of successfully merging both is increased traffic, sales, and profits.”

    Mark Fernandez, an e-commerce website owner understands them very well. “My sales went through the roof about 3 months after I joined up with Best SEO Hamilton. It was really exhilarating to see suddenly you’re site is getting so many visitors and getting converted into buyers. I really can’t thank you enough for all your help. I appreciate it very much.”

    Aside from technology, Best SEO Hamilton also uses up-to-date algorithm analysis to keep up with the latest search engine trends in the market. Their focus is mainly on traffic conversions and not just website traffic to gauge how well a business is profiting from all the clicks and visits to their site.

    The spokesperson for the company explains: “What’s the use of getting 12,000 visitors to your site when not even one bought your product? At the end of the day, it’s really all about profits. Now, if you can convert these 12,000 not just to visit the site but to also buy your products, then you’ve got the magic formula for success.”

    “Our main goal is to push for the best results for our clients, and if you go to our site at http://bestseohamilton.ca, you’ll see that we have had a lot of happy clients over the years”, he says. “I think we’re just very tenacious. We won’t stop until we see that our client’s site has achieved the best ranking, traffic and conversion that they can possibly get. We don’t settle for anything less.”


    Contact SEO Hamilton:

    Mason C. Everhart

    (289) 351-1151


    Best SEO Hamilton 181 John St. North Hamilton, Ontario L8L 7Z7

  • Canada's Top Vaughan SEO Company Setting Prepares For More Growth

    Vaughan SEO, one of the most promising names in SEO services, is expanding the company to cater to more businesses in Canada. A spokesman for the company says: “We’ve come to that point where the number of our clients far exceed the talent and staff that we have in our company. It even came to a point where we had to turn down some clients because all our hands were full already and we really felt bad about it. I think this is what led us to expanding the company, we don’t want to say no to companies that truly need our help.”

    Vaughan SEO grew from a small startup business to one of the most respected SEO companies in the local business scene. It has two main specialties: attracting more customers and optimizing websites.

    “We started our company by helping our customers improve the traffic flow to their websites through using strong content in their site and their blogs”, explains the company’s spokesman. “We often do this in tandem with using SEO tools and techniques to optimize their site. It’s a straightforward approach; however, it takes tremendous strategy and skill to pull them off successfully.”

    The company’s team of highly-experienced SEO experts makes the tasks look easy, but they’re more complex than they look. SEO uses many techniques, strategies, and tactics to increase the number of people who visit a website by ranking high in the search result page of search engines like Google and Yahoo. Studies show that people who browse these search engines often click the first five links in the search results, and many stop after the second or third page. Those who are ranked high have the most chances of getting more visitors on their site; those that don’t often get left behind.

    “There were tons of other dentists in my area, but I wanted to claim one of the top spots on Google”, says Izabelle Johnson. “I had tried SEO before myself but it wasn’t working. One time I checked out Vaughan SEO at http://vaughanseo.ca, and we soon collaborated on my site. They came through and delivered results that I wanted! My tip: Be patient. It takes a while for you to see the results of SEO, but hang in there and you’ll see the fruits of your labor eventually.”

    Ultimately, the goal of Vaughan SEO is to help businesses increase their profits through SEO. “Our main goal is to help the business owner gain more profits”, says the company’s spokesman. “SEO is a tool to make this happen, so if the results are not there, then we’re not succeeding. If you’re not ranking where you want to be, then we’re not going to stop working.”


    Contact Vaughan Seo:

    Ronald C. Brasel




  • How Our Need for Instant Gratification Is Changing the Future of Search Marketing

    The digital age has made us impatient.

    As content consumers we want to see everything—we want it now, we want it on every device, and we want it to be engaging enough to hold our attention until the next thing comes along in our newsfeed.

    But don’t feel bad; it’s not your fault. The evolution of digital content production and distribution has flooded nearly every channel of our lives and changed the rules for brands and consumers alike.

    The speed at which the Internet moves today can make content obsolete—sometimes nearly instantaneously. Brands are required to maintain a feverish pace to keep up with competitors in search, the demands of consumers and trending topics that span across the depths of the Twittersphere. 

    Additionally, over the last few years, consumers have made a shift in preference towards more visual and stimulating content. So how can brands respond to create timely and relevant content that increases visibility and drives users to take action? The answer is, it can’t be done alone.

    Digital trend drivers, like Google, understand this shift in content consumption and have developed new services to provide users with instant gratification, relevant content and engaging mediums directly in search. Features such as Universal Search and Entity Search offer immediate content solutions without the need for consumers to dig for information or even finish typing their search query.

    To provide users with the instant gratification they crave, leverage these search tools to increase the exposure of your brand’s most engaging digital assets.

    Related Article: Mobile Marketing: Growth Tactics from Google’s Latest Announcement

    How Entity Search Changed Everything

    Google’s Entity Search is a major visual component of its recent Knowledge Graph effort, which helps improve a user’s search experience through quick and easy discovery.

    Entity Search provides users with helpful information in panels located directly on SERPs, limiting the need for users to dig through organic and paid listings to find answers. Almost two years ago, Google rolled out this new feature to increase relevancy and build connections by what words mean based on user intent.

    Today, Entity Search offers even more insights and continues to create a search experience that delivers instant gratification. Recently, it has evolved to create a more personalized and interactive experience based on a user’s connections from Gmail and social accounts. Users today may see information such as travel plans pulled from their Google account directly into search, which creates a more relevant and valuable experience when searching around related topics or activities like trying to find a hotel.

    Google Knowledge Graph

    Image via SkepTools

    As you can see from the example above, the left side appears as the normal Google search result page, while the right contains the Knowledge Graph update.

    The shift toward instant gratification may provide obstacles for brands looking to improve visibility through paid advertising and search engine optimization, but it also offers opportunities to create content that supports and expands upon information within Entity Search panels. Complement direct answer panels and personalized results with search optimized content that expands upon the user’s intent and fills a need.

    The biggest opportunity for brands is to create a strong presence for branded phrases and own the panel for your brand. To ensure your brand’s Entity Search presence is as robust as possible, create a strong search presence, link social media accounts, update local information, upload photos to Google + and stay active across all digital channels. A strong Entity Search presence paired with organic and paid listings can create a powerful brand presence.

    Unfortunately, there is no way to ensure your content will appear in Entity Search, especially for queries outside your brand. Getting content to appear in non-branded searches is no easy task and requires a strong search presence and a good bit of luck. The best practice is to produce great content that is well optimized for search and offers quick and simple value to users, but understand that the odds are against you.

    Related Article: 6 Toxic SEO Habits You Should Stop Today

    Content Strategies For Universal Search

    Google introduced Universal Search to enrich the search experience for users by optimizing content such as images, video, news, shopping, maps/local to appear directly in search results. Google chooses what content to rank in Universal Search SERPs by analyzing the most popular types of content chosen by users in that query space.

    Google Universal Search

    Image via Search Engine Land

    Identify opportunities to get your content ranked in Universal Search with two methods. The best opportunity is to explore historical search data to find SERPs that previously included Universal Search data but currently do not. A lack of Universal Search content being indexed signifies that content currently offered does not offer value to users. Producing content that fills the need of users, is relevant to intent of the users search, and is optimized for those keyword phrases provides a good opportunity to get listed on SERPs. 

    The second method is to trigger entry of Universal Search elements into results by producing unique and quality content for targeted keyword phrases. This approach is more difficult without any historical data to rely on, so pay attention to query type triggers and content trends in search.

    To increase the likelihood of your content appearing in Universal Search, craft your content to match the intent of the users search, generate engagement across various channels, and optimize your content for targeted keywords used by your target audience segments that currently lack a Universal Search presence.


    The instant gratification of relevant and engaging content drives consumer demand. Increase your contents effectiveness by leveraging online tools to expand accessibility and developing a strong content marketing strategy targeted around the unique needs and online behaviors of your target audience segments. 

  • SEOprofiler.com Releases Free SEO Tutorial to Help Businesses Gain Better Search Engine …

    Good rankings on search engines are more important than ever before.

    This press release was orginally distributed by ReleaseWire

    Staudt, RLP — (ReleaseWire) — 06/26/2015 — Cloud-based SEO tool provider SEOprofiler has released a free step-by-step tutorial that helps businesses to improve the position of their web pages on Google and other search engines. High rankings on search engines are more important than ever before if a business wants to get a significant number of customers through the Internet.

    The tutorial covers everything from understanding the concept of SEO, selecting the right keywords, optimizing web pages and getting the right kind of backlinks to checking the results.

    * SEO is not rocket science

    “Search engine optimization isn’t rocket science”, said SEOprofiler CEO Andre Voget. “With the right information, each business owner can make sure that his or her website gets the best possible rankings on Google.”

    The step-by-step tuturial shows business owners the things that they have to do. Business owners will save a lot of time and money if they do the right things in the right order. For each topic, the tutorial contains checklists that make sure that results are achieved as quickly as possible.

    The free tutorial is available at the company website at “https://www.SEOprofiler.com/x/tutorial”. The tutorial is available online and as a downloadable PDF file.

    About SEOprofiler

    SEOprofiler is a cloud based SEO solution that helps businesses to improve the position of their websites on Google and other search engines. In contrast to other SEO tool providers, SEOprofiler only uses so-called white-hat SEO methods that follow Google’s optimization guidelines.

    For more information on this press release visit: http://www.releasewire.com/press-releases/release-606798.htm

  • Ben Black Hired as New Online Marketing Assistant at The Clix Group – St. Louis Post-Dispatch

    Ben Black The Clix Group

    The Clix Group is proud to announce the recent hire of Ben Black as online marketing assistant. He brings an enthusiasm and a skillset for inbound marketing tactics and email marketing. Being well versed in social media digital strategy has allowed him to easily spot trends and stay current on the ever-changing digital landscape.

    His experience with creating content for a diverse portfolio of clients provides an added level of depth in SEO optimization for websites and predicting future marketing trends. Additionally, Ben is able to pair his analytical process with clients’ goals to create a winning strategy. Also, being a fan of Sonic the Hedgehog never hurts, if we’re keeping track of that sort of thing anyway.

    The Clix Group has gained a valued asset in the form of Ben Black. As Jason Hylan, CEO of The Clix Group stated, “With the recent hire of Ben Black, we have solidified yet another prong in our online marketing strategy and he will make a great impact on our client’s search engine marketing campaigns. He possesses a discriminate eye that is able to examine the most minute details of each campaign and that can be the difference between a success or failure in search engine marketing.”

    About Clix

    The Clix Group, or simply Clix, is a reputable and experienced Internet marketing company with locations in St. Louis, San Francisco, and Little Rock. The Clix Group specializes in search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC), website design and development services. Its mission is to provide our clients with unparalleled value by delivering results, being responsive and being personal. For almost two decades, the members of Clix have helped local and national companies build or expand their presence online. For more information, visit http://www.clixfuel.com, call 314-222-2582, or email clix@clixfuel.com.

  • SEO And The Value Of Social Comments, Shares, Likes

    Google+’s influence on search engine optimization across its engine and network of sites and partners will continue to impact content rankings. A content discovery engine Thursday will announce an application program interface integration with the social platform, making it one of a select number to support Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

    San Diego-based SOCi focuses on understanding consumer engagement across social media to help brands better understand the connection with a variety of media. “We have a lot of partners realizing the importance of social media to SEO,” admits Afif Khoury, CEO at SOCi, a three-year-old startup.

    Analyzing the content helps SOCi determine the value of a comment, like, share and impression. About 85 factors in the scoring algorithm support the process. Khoury, along with CMO Tony Rindsberg, would not disclose the “secret sauce,” but admits that the comment is worth more than a share because with comment the person shares and engages. A comment is worth much more than four times the value of a like. Some of the attributes analyzed are the number of people it reached, the leads driven and clicks to the brand’s Web site.

    Understanding content has become critical to improve optimization. When SOCi analyzed and scored posts on the social Web for an unidentified company, they were writing about dust mites trying to educate their audience on why they should buy hypoallergenic mattresses. The scores were low — between zero and one, according to SOCi’s scoring engine. So the company went to the social Web and pulled all the posts on mattresses and ran them through algorithms. The posts that rose to the top in the rankings were those about pregnant women and mattresses, should they sleep on their side or back, and coil vs. tempurpedic. Those posts were generating tons of comments, shares and likes.

    Most of SOCi’s analytics occurs on Facebook. With an API for Google+, Rindsberg hopes to do the same type of analysis. The worth of a comment vs. like and share will shift depending on the dynamics and page. None stays the same from one business to another, he said. Formulas help compare the relationships and improve search engine optimization. 

  • SEO Speaker Darrin Cates Talks Mobile

    SEO Speaker Darrin Cates adds new keynote program on what businesses and organizations need to know about marketing in the current mobile age

    Tampa, Fla. (PRWEB) June 24, 2015

    SEO Speaker Darrin Cates is happy to announce he is now offering a new program focused on helping businesses and organizations understand the importance of mobile search. The new program is titled The Mysteries of Mobile: The 5 Things You Need to Know About Marketing in the Current Mobile Age.

    In this program, Darrin takes an in-depth look at what happens when people utilize their handheld devices to access websites, social media, email and other media online. He discusses how iPhones, iPads and other mobile devices have changed not only how people access information online but also how they put that information to work for them. More importantly, he shows you how to properly reach those people via a device that is extremely personal to them.

    “With over 50% of all U.S. web traffic now originating from mobile devices, understanding the ins and outs of mobile is more important than ever,” said SEO speaker, Darrin Cates. “In addition, Google has made recent changes to its algorithm that are specific to search results on mobile devices. The changes have resulted in lots rumors and misconceptions about how search works on mobile and the impact those changes have had on search results. My goal with this new program is to help people to gain a basic understanding of how they can leverage the recent changes in mobile search to effectively reach their constituents and potential customers.”

    Although the program touches on many different aspects, Darrin goes into detail about the 5 things that businesses and organizations need to know to reach people via mobile. He discusses the pros and cons of mobile apps. He talks about how constant connectivity has changed our desire for more information and what organizations can do to provide more. He also demonstrates what it means to make your site more “mobile friendly” and whether or not you need a mobile-specific design. In addition, he explains what a “responsive web design” is and if it is right for you and your organization.

    The program is designed for a general keynote program but can be customized to meet the needs of a specific audience. The program is available for conference events or also for customized on-site training.

    About Darrin Cates

    Darrin Cates is a SEO Speaker that has an electrifying and invigorating approach. As the founder and CEO of eVibrant (http://www.eVibrant.com), he is an expert in the field of SEO and other important business concepts involving digital media marketing, social media marketing and communication. He makes these often complex topics easy to comprehend, utilizing real-world examples and humor. With Darrin’s help, people no longer have to be intimidated by Facebook, Google, mobile communications or any form of online marketing. To learn more about Darrin and his availability as a keynote speaker, visit his website at http://www.DarrinCates.com (http://www.DarrinCates.com).

    For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/06/prweb12805555.htm

  • It IS Possible To Change Your Domain Without Losing Your SEO Juice. Here's How.

    While it can be a scary prospect, sometimes it’s necessary to move your site to a new domain. Often it comes down to maintaining consistent branding; for instance, changing your domain to match your company’s new name.
    While transferring your site to a new domain isn’t something you should do on a whim, it is possible to do it without suffering permanent damage to your search rankings.
    Be aware that you are likely to experience a short-term drop in rankings immediately following your move.
    However, by following the steps below you should see your rankings rebound to pre-move levels, often within a few months.

    Why Change Domains?

    Before we look at the process of changing domains, it’s helpful to look at why website owners typically decide to make this change. As already mentioned, it isn’t a move you should take lightly, however there are some solid reasons why it may be beneficial for your site and business:
    • A more user-friendly domain name has become available: If you’ve been stuck with a .net or .biz domain and suddenly a .com becomes available, you may want to consider grabbing it and moving your site to the new domain. While it’s certainly not necessary to do so, .com domains can be easier for your customers to remember, and may convey a greater level of credibility than, for instance, a .biz domain.
    • Your business name has changed and you want your domain to reflect this: There isn’t really any way around this one. If your business name has changed, you’ll want to change your domain to maintain consistent branding.
    • You want to consolidate multiple similar domains into one: If you have several sites that are essentially delivering the same types of content to a similar audience, you may want to consider amalgamating your domains. Dr. Pete over at Moz recently attempted this to bring his five personal and professional sites under one roof. If this is something you’re considering, I’d encourage you to read through his SEO case study before you start.
    • You’re just plain tired of your domain: If your domain accurately reflects your brand and you’ve simply gotten bored with it, consider carefully whether changing over to a new domain is worth the work and risk of temporarily losing your rankings. Changing your domain isn’t something you want to do more than once, so it’s important to be absolutely certain before making the change.

    If you are committed to changing your domain, the rest of this post will walk you through exactly what you need to do to move your site while maintaining your SEO juice.

    I wrote this post as I recently purchased Make Some Time from Aniket Tapre from Vodlo. Our goal all along was to transfer the site to Due. In this post I will walk you through everything I did in order to have the transition of the site go smoothly.

    Here it goes!

    1. Back Up Your Site – Totally & Completely

    Backup Buddy screenshot

    BackupBuddy will help you save and restore your site files and database

    Imagine starting the migration to a new domain, running into trouble, and finding your backup is corrupted or incomplete. Unfortunately, this happens all too often.
    Before attempting any major changes (including messing with your .htaccess file), make sure you have a complete, working backup of your files and database. If you have a WordPress site, you can use a plugin like BackUpWordPress or  Backup Buddy to back up your site and help you migrate to the new domain.

     2. Clean Up Your New Domain

    GWT manual actions screenshot
    If your new domain has been previously registered, you’ll want to make sure it’s not carrying forward any old penalties. To check for any outstanding issues, claim your new domain in Google Webmaster Tools and check the Manual Actions page. If there are no issues, you can feel confident in going forward with your move.
    If there is a manual action, you’ll need to make any necessary changes and then submit a reconsideration request. Once this request is approved, you should be free and clear to move your content over to your new domain.

    3. Move Content to the New Domain

    Duplicator plugin screenshot

    Using a WordPress plugin like Duplicator simplifies the moving process

    Many SEO experts recommend moving only a portion of your site – for instance, a subdomain – so you can test how the change will impact your search rankings. Unfortunately, this process can take a fair bit of time, and many site owners want to make the move as quickly as possible.
    If you can spare the time, this process will give you a way to test out your process from start to finish without jeopardizing the rankings of your site as a whole. After moving the content to the new domain, be sure to 301 redirect those pages from the old domain to the new one in order to ensure Google knows where to find your new content.
    If you’re going to be manually transferring your content to the new domain (as opposed to using a plugin), you’ll need to make sure you first have your content management system in place. For instance, if you’re using WordPress on the new domain, you’ll need to make sure the basic framework of your site is in place by  installing WordPress on the new domain.
    If you’re moving from a WordPress site to another WordPress site, you can use a plugin like  Duplicator or  All-in-One WP Migration to automate the entire process.

    4. Permanently Redirect Old Pages

    Don't risk losing visitors and SEO juice to dead ends. Photo courtesy of Hootsuite.

    Don’t risk losing visitors and SEO juice to dead ends. Photo courtesy of Hootsuite.

    To make sure Google and your visitors are sent to the new domain, you’ll need to set up server-side 301 redirects in your .htaccess file. This small piece of code indicates that you have made a permanent move to the new domain and that all traffic – direct and search – should be forwarded to the new URLs.
    The importance of this step cannot be overstated. Properly setting up 301 redirects is the key to maintaining your search rankings. 
    Without this critical step, you’ll essentially be hosting two identical sites, and setting yourself up for major duplicate content penalties.
    If you’ll be changing up your content on the new domain (meaning your new site doesn’t have the exact content as your old one), you’ll have a few additional steps:
    • Create 404 pages for content that has no equivalent on the new domain.
    •   Map your old URLs to your new URLs before attempting any redirects. This will help keep you organized as you attempt to redirect Google and your visitors to the most relevant content on your new domain.
    Here are some great tools and articles for setting up 301 redirects:
    The .htaccess generator: A free tool that will give you the exact code you need to input into your .htaccess file.
    Changing page URLs with 301 redirects: From Google Webmaster Tool’s help section.
    Simple 301 Redirects: A free WordPress plugin for automating redirects.

    5. Officially Tell Google You’ve Moved

    Google change of address tool

    Google’s Change of Address tool

    While your redirects will signal to the search engines that your content has moved, it’s still a good idea to submit an official change of address notification. To do this, you’ll first need to add and verify your new domain in Google Webmaster Tools.
    Once your new domain is verified, login to your Google Webmaster search console and click on the gear icon at the top right of the screen. You should see the Change of Address tool in the drop down menu. The process is quite self-explanatory, as you can see in the screenshot above. Just remember that you must have all your 301′s in place before Google will accept your change of address request.

    6. Create a Sitemap

    XML sitemap screenshot

    A sample XML sitemap generated by the Google XML Sitemaps plugin

    At this point, it’s time to leave your old domain behind and focus exclusively on your new one. While an html sitemap is always great for improving user experience, I’m referring here to an XML sitemap for the benefit of the search engines.
    Google actually recommends creating two sitemaps: one with your old URLs (from your old domain) and one with all your updated URLS (from your new domain). Once you’ve submitted both sitemaps, the process should go like this, according to Google: “Initially, the sitemap containing the new URLs would have zero pages indexed, while the sitemap of the old URLs would have many pages indexed. Over time the number of pages indexed from the old URLs sitemap would drop to zero with a corresponding increase of indexing of the new URLs.”
    Creating an XML sitemap manually is virtually impossible, especially for larger sites with thousands of pages. Fortunately there are some great tools that completely automate the process:
    XML-Sitemaps: Crawls your entire site and then automatically generates a sitemap. Also provides a list of broken links which will be useful in step #7.
    Google XML Sitemaps: A free plugin that not only creates a sitemap, but notifies the search engines whenever new content is added.

    7. Check & Update Internal & Inbound Links

    Screaming Frog's Broken Link Checker screenshot

    Screaming Frog’s Broken Link Checker can help you easily find and replace broken links

    This can be a tedious process, but one that’s made much more manageable using a tool like Screaming Frog’s Broken Link Checker. Keep in mind that while your 301 redirects will ensure even internal links go to your new domain, eventually you’ll want to shut down your old domain; and at that point all your internal links to your old domain would break. For this reason, you’ll want to find and replace all your internal links to point them to the new domain.
    It’s also advisable to contact sites linking to yours and asking them to update their links to your new site. Again, while these links will eventually find their way to your new site, requesting the change will ensure you keep that link authority indefinitely – even once you shut down your old domain.

    8. Watch Your Analytics, Especially in the Beginning

    Search Analytics in Google Webmaster Tools

    Search Analytics in Google Webmaster Tools

    Congratulations! At this point you have successfully moved your site to your new domain. If you’ve followed the seven steps above, you shouldn’t see a permanent decline in your search traffic.
    However, it’s always a great idea to carefully monitor your site analytics and Google Webmaster console in the months following your move. If issues arise with your new domain, you’re most likely to catch them in GWT under:
    • Messages: If your site has received any warnings, these should be noted here.
    • Manual Actions: If your site has received a manual penalty, all relevant information will be listed here.
    • Index Status: Watch to ensure URLs on your old domain are consistently being de-indexed while your new URLs are being indexed.
    • Crawl Errors: If Google is having trouble accessing any parts of your new site, you should see this here. This can sometimes be the result of errors in your new robots.txt file.
    • Search Queries: As more of your content is indexed, you should also see a rise in the number of clicks and impressions your content gets.

    Some Final Thoughts

    While I’ve provided a general overview of the technical aspects of moving your site, there are a few best practices you should keep in mind to make sure the process runs as smoothly as possible:
    • Be sure to let your followers, subscriber,s and email visitors know about the move well in advance. This is particularly important if you’re also changing your name or website design. Consider using a pop-up box on your site to let visitors know about the change, and using a transitional logo or byline to help maintain brand recognition (e.g., “Formerly known as…..”).
    • Whenever possible, do page-to-page redirects rather than a sitewide redirect. This means directing your old pages to the most relevant pages on your new site – not just directing everything to your homepage.
    • Be prepared to wait 3-6 months for your rankings to reach pre-move levels. For this reason, it’s important to avoid making the move during a busy time of year.
    • Consider stepping up your game when it comes to PR following the move. This can help generate authoritative links to your new domain, boosting your rankings, and potentially speeding up the process of restoring your search traffic.

    Are you planning to move your site to a new domain? What’s the reason behind your decision? Share below!

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