Sunday, 28 November 2010

New Domain - My blog has a new domain name

About a year ago I started to write a blog, previously to that, for about three years I had been writing a SQL Server themed tips and articles on my website. When I started writing the blog I decided to build it into my existing domain name, that I think was a little mistake on my part. It’s that time of year again when it was time to renew my domain name, I hadn’t written on the actual site for well over a year, people reading the site itself had fallen through the floor as I was no longer paying it any attention,  the hosting costs were creeping up with that particular provider and I found that as I’ve developed and increased my contribution  to the SQL Server community my name has become more and more important. The existing domain name, I felt did not really represent me, it was long, possibly too long and difficult to remember and if you came across it on a Search Engine search you wouldn’t necessarily know that it was my site without clicking the link and visiting the site. So after some deliberation and thought I have decided to go for a new look. I revamped the blog site a month or so back which I think now looks clean and tidy and pretty easy to navigate. Yesterday, which incidentally coincided with my old domain expiring, I started up and pointed it at my old blog. Nothing has been lost and all my old blog posts have been kept so all is good there, it is now obvious from the domain name whose site you are on and that will go that little bit further in promoting my brand – me! to the wider world. A key factor in my decision to change though was down to the fact that a lot of people read what I write on other sites, like and when I started the blog a year ago I followed some of Brent Ozar’s (Blog | Twitter) advice and used feed burner for my feeds and got myself syndicated on a couple of the large SQL Server sites. This allowed my to change the base domain for my feed without needing any of my readers to change their subscriptions. The syndication on SQL Server Pedia uses this feed. I’m not sure if SQL Server central does though I will find out if the posts makes it onto their site. If doesn’t I’ll have to email Steve and ask him to update it.

The Drawbacks and mistakes that I made

Changing the domain name of my blog, technically, was an easy thing to do, in reality though this approach has many drawbacks. It is pretty much like starting again. Even though all my content is still out there on the web any external links to it will be pointing to the wrong place, Which will not help my new domain in the search engine rankings but more importantly if you link to my content on the old domain  that link will no longer exist and your site users will get taken to a horrible error message that they will no doubt find frustrating and I am really very sorry about. If you have links to any of my blog posts can I please ask that you update them with the new URL it’ll help your readers and of course me :-)

I am in the process of updating my old posts which link to other pages  on my blog so I maintain a nice set of internal links that I’m told search engines like. This after years worth of posts, which total at just over 100 posts, is quite a lot of work.

As I type this Google and Bing and other search engines still don’t know about my new domain, hopefully it won’t be long before they pick up the new content. I did look into Google’s “Change of Address” feature in webmaster tools but unfortunately I no longer have access to the old domain so 301 redirects are out of the question, I’m not sure they the old hosting company supported them anyway, and although I verified the old domain in webmaster tools years ago, Google tried to re-verify it when I tried to change the address but unfortunately that failed too. The sub domain my blog was sitting on couldn't be re-directed because it’s not a root level domain so that tool, at least for now unless someone advises me otherwise, seems unlikely to help. I have followed the other advice Google offers when changing a domain name, I have added my new domain to webmaster tools created a site map and updating internal and external links to the site. They also recommend retaining control of the old domain for 6 months after the move, not planning this domain change that far in advance and the fact the old domain has now disappeared I won’t be able to this either. So we’ll see how it goes but I do envisage my visitor numbers falling significantly over the next few months while the Search Engines sort themselves and my new domain out.

This last year I have had just under 10,000 unique visitors to my site (according to Google Analytics), a figure I’m pretty proud of, although another 6 people visiting would have been a great figure to look at! It will be interesting to see how this changes impacts on that figure over the next few months, here’s how the unique visitors numbers over the last year looks on my blog today:

Traffic Stats Last Year

Lessons Learned:

  • Give yourself plenty of time with the old domain still running, it will allow you a much smoother transition to your new domain name and keep you much more in control. Although I have been thinking about this for a while, I only really looked into the actual logistics of this when the old domain was about to run out. Then it was too late for me.
  • Pick a good domain for your blog right up front, save bothering with all this in the first place.

If you have any further advice to offer me (Or others) about what I should have done differently or anything that I can still do to improve the efficiency of the move to the new domain then please let me know in the comments below.

I will keep you posted in the New Year with and update on how the transition went.

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