Moving to a new web host

Several people have asked for the recommended way to move to a new webhost or IP address without having problems in Google. I tested this method this past Sunday and everything worked fine for me. I’ll walk you through my example, which is moving mattcutts.com from one IP address to another IP address by changing hosts. This is not an example of moving mattcutts.com to someotherdomain.com. I’ll talk about that a bit at the end.

If you have a static site or can afford a day or so where your site can be in limbo between two IP addresses, life will be easier. If you have a dynamic site with databases and such, it’s trickier, even though the idea is the same.

Step 1. Find a good web host and sign up for an account.

Step 2: Make a back-up of your site at the new webhost.

Step 3: Change DNS to point to your new web host.

Step 4: Wait for the DNS change to propagate through the net.

Step 5: Once you are sure people or Googlebots are fetching from the new webhost/IP address, you’re done. You can shut down the old site.

Let’s talk through these in a little more detail.

Step 1. Find a good web host and sign up for an account.

Research + references should help you find a good host. I liked my current webhost (csoft.net) quite a bit and I did a lot of research, but the site readership was growing faster than I expected. I asked a (non-SEO) friend who runs a heavily-trafficked site what he uses, and he uses pair.com. In this example I’ll refer to things by IP addresses, and we’ll be moving from csoft with an IP address of 63.x.x.x to pair.com with an IP address of 65.x.x.x. Just as a reminder, DNS is the system that maps pretty names like www.google.com to an actual Internet Protocol (IP) address that a machine can use, such as 66.102.7.147.

Step 2. Make a back-up of your site at the new webhost.

If you have a static website, this isn’t that bad; just copy the entire file structure over to the new webhost and you’re done. Harder is something like a blog, which usually has a MySQL or other database for storing posts. Harder still is some e-commerce site that has to have its database kept in a sync’ed state. In that case, you might have to set up database replication between the old location and the new location while you are doing the transition.

But let’s take the example of a WordPress blog with a MySQL database that can be down for a few hours without too much trouble. Assume that you’ve already used tar or FTP to copy the static files from one webhost to another. First, you want to create a new MySQL database at the new web host. Ideally, you can make it have the same database name and user name. If not, you’ll want to tweak the WordPress wp-config.php at the new location to update the database/username/password/etc.

Now that you’ve got the MySQL database ready to copy over, dump the old MySQL database, copy it to the new webhost, and load your database at the new location. Those three commands would look like this:

mysqldump –add-drop-table -uoldusername -poldpassword olddatabase > mysqlbackup.20051009.sql

scp mysqlbackup.20051009 user@newhost:~/

mysql -unewusername -pnewpassword -hnewdatabasehost newdatabase < ~/mysqlbackup.20051009.sql

Bear in mind that you have a username/password to login to the old and new webhosts, but you also have separate username/password for the databases at each location as well. You might even have the MySQL database stored on a different host, which is why I showed the -h (host) option when restoring the database. Again, if the new host has different options for your database, you’ll need to edit your wp-config.php file or WordPress won’t be able to access your database at the new webhost.

Now you have identical copies of your site at two different locations. If you’re just running a blog with a comment or two a day, it’s not a big problem if someone posts a comment or otherwise changes your database while you’re doing the transition to a new web host. If you run a big, industrial-strength forum or e-commerce site, you’ll need to do extra work to keep the two databases and/or file systems synchronized.

Step 3: Change DNS to point to your new web host.

This is the actual crux of the matter. First, some DNS background. When Googlebot(s) or anyone else tries to reach or crawl your site, they look up the IP address, so mattcutts.com would map to an IP like 63.111.26.154. Googlebot tries to do reasonable things like re-check the IP address every 500 fetches or so, or re-check if more than N hours have passed. Regular people who use DNS in their browser are affected by a setting called TTL, or Time To Live. TTL is measured in seconds and it says “this IP address that you fetched will be safe for this many seconds; you can cache this IP address and not bother to look it up again for that many seconds.” After all, if you looked up the IP address for each site with every single webpage, image, JavaScript, or style sheet that you loaded, your browser would trundle along like a very slow turtle.

You can actually see the TTL for various sites by using the “dig” command in Linux/Unix:

% dig mattcutts.com

; < <>> DiG 9.2.1 < <>> mattcutts.com
;; global options: printcmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER< <- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 37526
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 2, ADDITIONAL: 1

;; QUESTION SECTION:
;mattcutts.com. IN A

;; ANSWER SECTION:
mattcutts.com. 3572 IN A 65.181.152.150
...

In this case, the Time-To-Live for the IP address for mattcutts.com is 3572 seconds (a little less than an hour).

Time-To-Live is an important factor for a site’s DNS. Some sites like google.com, yahoo.com, and msn.com have really short DNS TTL settings like 300 to 900 seconds. Why? Well, if you have multiple data centers, you might want to take one data center down so that the data center mechanics can sprinkle fresh, magical index data onto the machines. With a short TTL, you could pull a data center’s IP address out of the rotation in just a few minutes.

That also helps explain the “Google Dance” of days gone by. The Google Dance would last for about a week, and people would see both old and new results, depending on which data center they happened to hit. The underlying reason was that each data center was brought down, loaded with new data or algorithmic settings, and then brought back up again. It took several days to switch the data at all data centers. During that time, webmasters used to love to check www2.google.com and www3.google.com because those DNS aliases usually pointed to the newest data centers. These days our production system is better equipped to switch things around quickly instead of over several days.

There, a little easter egg for the people who care about DNS. :) Okay, where were we? Right, switching DNS and Time-To-Live. You should care about TTL because if someone loads your website in their browser just before you update your DNS settings, and your TTL is one day, then that person’s browser will try to use your old IP address all that day.

In fact, it’s even worse. DNS is hierarchical. At the top of DNS there are 13 root servers that can handle any DNS lookup for a .com domain, but DNS caches flow all the way down to ISPs like Comcast or Cox. If someone on Comcast looked up your IP address just before you changed your DNS settings, all of Comcast would use the old IP address until the Time-To-Live expired.

So the upshot is that if you can make your TTL short (like an hour) instead of long (like a day), you’ll be in much better shape. Everyone will move to your new IP address in short order instead of having a mish-mash where some people are using the old IP address for hours.

The actual switchover process is pretty easy. Your new webhost will give you a pair of nameservers to use as the primary nameservers. If you have a domain registered with GANDI (the delightful French registrar that I happen to use), you go to account settings and switch from the old webhost’s nameservers to the new webhost’s nameservers. GANDI (and probably other registrars) is smart enough to recognize nameservers that are already present in the DNS system, so it can make the change pretty much immediately. If you’re going with a nameserver that no one has ever heard of before, you might have to wait 24 hours or so for things to percolate into the system.

Step 4: Wait for the DNS change to propagate through the net.

This is mostly a function of TTL and whether you’re switching to nameservers that are already present in DNS. Remember that DNS is hierarchical, and you have to wait for DNS caches to be flushed as Time-To-Live is exceeded. If you are using a smart registrar and a well-known set of new nameservers, the switch at the root level of DNS can be pretty quick. To verify that the root servers have the new nameserver, you can use the “dig +trace domain” command in Linux/Unix. The “+trace” option tells dig to go all the way up to the DNS root servers for the lookup:

dig +trace mattcutts.com

; < <>> DiG 9.2.1 < <>> +trace mattcutts.com
;; global options: printcmd

mattcutts.com. 172800 IN NS ns00.ns0.com.
mattcutts.com. 172800 IN NS ns176.pair.com.
;; Received 111 bytes from 192.5.6.30#53(A.GTLD-SERVERS.NET) in 84 ms

Above you can see that my nameservers have switched to pair.com nameservers. After that, you just have to wait for TTLs to expire for your new nameserver (and thus IP address) to wend its way out to everyone. If you are on a Windows XP system, you can use the command “ipconfig /flushdns” to flush your machine’s DNS cache, but it probably won’t do much good by itself. Remember that DNS is cached at each level, so your ISP probably has cached the previous IP address until the TTL expires.

Step 5: Once you are sure people or Googlebots are fetching from the new webhost/IP address, you’re done. You can shut down the old site.

When you ping your domain and see your new IP address, you know that you’re getting close. Previous visitors might still be using the old IP address from their DNS cache, but new visitors are getting the new IP address. It’s still a good idea to give a day or so in case anyone had a long Time-To-Live set, but most TTLs are a day or a few hours or less. After a day or so, it should be safe to deactivate the hosting at the old location. If you want to be ultra-safe, check your logs. When you see Googlebot fetching from the new webhost and no more visitors in your logs at the old location, it’s okay to turn off your old webhost.

Moving to a different domain

Now let’s talk for a minute about moving from mattcutts.com to someotherdomain.com. All other things being equal, I would recommend to stay with the original domain if possible. But if you need to move, the recommended way to do it is to put a 301 (permanent) redirect on every page on mattcutts.com to point to the corresponding page on someotherdomain.com. If you can map mattcutts.com/url1.html to someotherdomain.com/url1.html, that’s better than doing a redirect just to the root page (that is, from mattcutts.com/url1.html to someotherdomain.com). In the olden days, Googlebot would immediately follow a 301 redirect as soon as it found it. These days, I believe Googlebot sees the 301 and puts the destination url back in the queue, so it gets crawled a little later. I have heard some reports of people having issues with doing a 301 from olddomain.com to newdomain.com. I’m happy to hear those reports in the comments and I can pass them on to the crawl/indexing team, but we may be due to replace the code that handles that in the next couple months or so. If it’s really easy for you to wait a couple months or so, you may want to do that; it’s always easier to ask crawl/index folks to examine newer code than code that will be turned off in a while.

122 Responses to Moving to a new web host (Leave a comment)

  1. Excellent step by step Matt … Now if I can only figure out why we are filtered into obscurity I’ll be happy. Any chance of getting on the list of reviewed sites?

  2. Hein

    If you have control of your name server, you should set the TTL of the relevant DNS records to, say, 5 seconds (from the usual multiple hours) a few days before the move. Then changes to your DNS records will propagate much faster. After the move, increase the TTL again.

    This will increase the load on your name server and possibly the latency of your site (because DNS lookups are slower).

  3. Daniel

    Matt

    We changed our domain about 6 months ago with a 301 in place. Everything went well but Google kept some of the old domain pages in its index. The problem now is that we are getting a Dup penalty.

    How can I get the old pages out the index?

    Thanks
    Daniel

  4. Jon Dapron

    Hi Matt,
    Nice chef costume! I was wanting to see if you could let me know if google is going through a test or update this October. Im seeing two sets of results on the different dcs. On one set, my site pages at http://www.tools4flooring.com (and many other sites too) have been all but dropped from the results. It seems there is a problem with google keeping old urls that were permenantly redirected a long time ago. I wanted to make sure this would be fixed BEFORE some kind of duplicate content filter was applied. Any insight greatly appreciated!

  5. R. Sosa

    Bravo! Clear and to the point, just what I had been waiting for. Thanks Matt

  6. Supplemental Challenged

    Google never recognizes a 301 of a page that is a supplemental result, so what is a person to do in this circumstance?

    Well, I know the answer is there is nothing that can be done, whether the 301 is to a page on the same domain or to a different one, but when will Google fix this incredibly bad problem?

    Refusing to obey 301s makes no sense.

  7. My feedbuzzard site is one of those severely impacted by a re-org of my site and the subsequent 301s I needed to employ.

    It is as if my site has been banned altogether, but I highly doubt that is the case, as it was steadily climbing in the ranks just recently.

  8. Thanks for that great post. I´ve heard that allegedly there´s an influence on Google´s crawling of a site whether the site has a unique IP address rather then sharing an IP address with hundreds of other sites through masquerading. Is that true?

  9. Great entry Matt. I always wondered about the web host switch effect. I plan to do one myself in the near future. I must ask about the Google Page Rank. I’m showing 0 PR for your blog (mattcutts.com) right now, is this a result of the Google Dance…has the PR not propogated across the board? Will your PR get back to normal after the Google Dance? Or is it lost forever and you will need to rebuild it from scratch?? If you have this information available please share. That would probably be a reason for me to try my best to keep my static IP.

  10. JD

    Nice entry. Here’s a suggestion for a new topic. Email Spam.

    After all these years, no one has done anything real about this scourge. Come on people. This is not so difficult. New protocol. With every new email outgoing is a unique code per email. That code is kept on the server. Recipient email client pings that mail server with the code. Mail server says, “I sent it” or “I didn’t send it”. If mail server didn’t send it, mail gets junked. Not put into bulk folder. Totally junked.

    Run the protocol for a year voluntarily letting the mail clients and various sendmail companies catch up. Let users make sure they are on a compliant system. And bam. Huge percentage of spam is taken care of.

    Google can take the lead on this new protocol. Announcing that gmail will be compliant. You’ll get great PR. And I don’t mean pagerank.

    And I know these ideas are not new. I’ve thought of it personally years ago and I know many others have simultaneously. But yet again, I just deleted a few hundred spam from this week. And the big companies with the power to do something about it are sitting on their asses.

    Where is the outrage and innovation. When I heard gmail was going to be announced, I assumed you guys would take a stab at spam.

  11. Matt, I really need to 301 redirect from olddomain.com/subdirectory to newdomain.com. I’m using a different cms/layout so I’m manually redirecting most pages from the old site to the new site. Only pages I am not completely redirecting manually are pages that cover individual screenshots (the new site has a popup java for screenshots). If it has to be done, I should just do it? I can’t months for this redirect.

    Is it any different if I’m redirecting from subdirectory to newddomain and I’m manually doing most redirects? This should be better, no?

    Thanks Matt.

  12. ModemMike

    Matt, as you know I have been very verbal about my 301 nightmare but sending emails to help@google.com has gotten me nothing but canned responses.

    [blockquote]I’m happy to hear those reports in the comments and I can pass them on to the crawl/indexing team[/blockquote]

    Are you actually asking for those of us with a 301 horror story to post the URL here? I would love to but simply posting the URL is half of the story but I will post the URL of my site that was completely removed from the results (not even in the first 1k)… the former domain name was top 3 for lots of different keywords and I have resolved to the fact that I’m starting from square one in Google. Rather than posting MY URL could you send me an email with instructions on how provide the URL to you in some other way (maybe a subject line that would flag the email to come to you?). You should have my email address in this comment and would jump at the chance to explain my story to someone that would actually look at my case.

    BTW, I have often said that in my own opinion a paid manual review would be best the possible solution for both webmaster and Google… what is your thinking on this idea?

    Matt, thank you for blogging this!

  13. I just transfer a site from a US ip to a regional IP, site startup in end of June in a US server , in Setember i need move to a Portuguese Host, because i can’t get backup of old mysql db i need to put again all information in db.GG don’t leave old URLS, in 2 days indexed important URLS, SERPS increase a lot, more regional users, i don’t understand why with all changes not even in a day i have less visitors from GG, there are times noone understand GG, sometimes put me crazy, but in others I LOVE GOOGLE.How i remove old server information ? Google need some tool to do that.

  14. Ian

    I helped someone move a site last year; it was a dynamic site, and I have no idea about keeping databases synchronised. —

    We pretty much followed the instructions above, but the “quick and dirty” addition to the method we used, was simply to plaster a huge notice across every page of the OLD site saying something like “We are moving hosts today. You are looking at the old site. Anything posted here will not appear on the new site. When this notice no longer appears, you will already be accessing the new location. Please call back later”. —

    Worked exactly as expected. Only one person posted something that didn’t make it across the transition.

  15. Hi Matt,

    Thanks for this very useful post.
    However, I have to disagree with you on one specific point. You say that “Googlebot would immediately follow a 301 redirect as soon as it found it.”, but I know for a fact that GoogleBot does NOT follow 301 always. I know of many examples where GoogleBot took months to take into account a permanent redirect, and some cases where the 301 is not followed at all.

    Cheers,

  16. Hey, thanks for the great tips! I am facing this exact dilemma in getting ready to move from blogspot to my own domain. I’m doing it now though, since my site is not really big and important or anything yet, but is just starting to show that it has potential. So I’m going to go ahead and bite the bullet and move before it becomes a huge problem or concern. I’m not sure how to do a redirect (or even if it’s possible on a blogspot blog)… but I’ll give that the old college try and see if I can figure it out.

    Thanks again!

  17. See Blogger Isn’t Free: The cost of not using your own domain for related information. Moving blogs from Blogger’s free hosting service is something that many people run into, but they are often surprised at the results. Unfortunately, on most of these systems you can’t do a proper HTTP-level redirect to solve the problem.

  18. I moved a blog on a subdirectory of one domain to a fresh domain.

    I used the syntax in my .htaccess file:

    Redirect permanent /[subdirectory] http://url

    This maps every page in the subdirectory to the root of the new domain, and as I was moving a WordPress blog and keeping the exact structure, that’s exactly what I wanted, thus:

    http://olddomain/subdirectory/2005/10/01/article

    maps to

    http://newdomain/2005/10/01/article

    I lost ranking in Google for about 3 weeks, but all appears to be back to normal. Other SEs (remember them?) like MSN and Yahoo didn’t seem to penalise the move. Now I don’t know if that was because of the move, or because the old subdirectory was on a site with a Google pagerank of around 3, and the new domain had none.

  19. By the way, an easy way to keep the databases in sync when you move servers is to first import the current DB into the new host, and then set the scripts on the old host to use the new host as their database server. That way no matter which server people hit, they’re always getting the same DB.

    The downside is that the speed won’t be as good, but if it’s a choice between a slow site and people getting to a site with an “abandoned” database, I’d usually choose the slow site.

  20. ModemMike

    There are a lot of you talking about moving domains but I urge you to read Matt’s article carefully especially the part about waiting if you can. Read the various topics and articles about 301 redirects and Google or even the thread I started on WebMasterWorld title “The 301 Club”. While a few have reported great success using a permanent redirect most sites are buried back into the sandbox (no debate IMHO if it exists). Don’t change you domain name unless you are under court order or at gun point, you will loss all of your Google traffic except the constant pillaging of your graphics from users via Google images. Yahoo & MSN will both handle the 301 fine but be prepared for months maybe years of downtime in the Google results for even the most obscure terms and your old domain name will remain in Google for an undetermined length of time. Had I known before hand that changing my domain name would cause this havoc in Google results I would have NEVER USED A 301.

  21. Matt

    Wow, good tips, esp. Hein, Ian, and Herschel. Anything to make a move easier is always good. Andy Merrett, nice use of .htaccess mojo. :) If we switch over to new code, I’ll ask someone to look into cases like this to try to make it as seamless as possible. Daniel and Supplemental Challenged, Googlebot has to visit a page again and see that it’s a 301/permanent redirect before it will know about it. But Supplemental pages may not get visited as often.

    Ant Onaf, I believe my PR has always been zero–I only started this site in earnest about a couple months ago. PR updates every three months or so, so perhaps in the next PR export I’ll have some green bar action. :)

    To the skeptics about Googlebot following 301s immediately, that was in pre-Fritz days.

    JD, I think Gmail handles spam pretty well, but I completely agree. I think authenticated email is a great idea (DomainKeys and SPF are a step in the right direction). You could even have a web of trust idea where legacy software/hardware emails that couldn’t be upgraded could be “vouched for” by someone who was trusted. I don’t think any one company has enough power to push an idea like that all the way to success, but I think if enough companies got together, it should be doable.

    Vgescape, I’d go ahead and try the 301 and see how it works.

  22. Joshua

    Hey Matt,

    The information you have provided is very helpful. I am a web designer that is always getting new accounts and as I get these new accounts, I move them to a new host. It is nice that you have stated the correct way in order to go about this process.

    I would like to make one comment though. The keyword “Web Hosting” needs some help. Towards the end of the first page and top of the second page you begin to see the best results. But number 1-6 need major help. You have companies like Bravenet (with like 20 links on the bottom of the home page), the same with TopHosts, and WebHostDir.
    When I do a search for “Web Hosting” or “Web Host”, I am looking for a web hosting company. Instead I am provided with a few free web hosting companies and a few web related sites.

    Joshua S.

  23. Supplemental Challenged

    “Daniel and Supplemental Challenged, Googlebot has to visit a page again and see that it’s a 301/permanent redirect before it will know about it. But Supplemental pages may not get visited as often.”

    That’s neither the problem nor the issue.

    These “supplemental” pages get crawled EVERY SINGLE DAY. The new cache is displayed, but the old Supplemental Result continues to exist in a parallel universe.. I’m looking at one Supplemental, with a Supplemental cache from March 2004, that has been crawled virtually EVERY DAY for the past three weeks. The text on the page now is simply “pagemoved”. It shows up for a pagemoved search but also shows for a search for any text that was on the March 2004 — after the September 22 meltdown, that March 2004 page shows first for anything searching within this domain.

    At the same time, I did the same with another Supplemental. It was crawled EVERY DAY for ten days, then I put a 301 on it. Google simply refuses to obey the 301, even though the 301ed link is on a dozen pages crawled every day, and if I take the 301 the page would be crawled every day.

    It is simply terrible that Google refuses to obey 301s.

    I would be glad to provide lots of examples of this very serious problem.

  24. Supplemental Challenged

    Third to last sentence should be: “and if I take the 301 off the page would be crawled every day.”

    The Supplementals in question were all deleted a year or more ago; were out of the index a long time but then returned as Supplementals; in some cases were additionally removed with the URL “removal” tool, which of course just hid them instead of removing them; since September 22nd I’ve put pages back up in those long gone locations to try and remove the Supplementals.

    Additionally it is a serious problem that Google also flatly ignores that a Supplemental no longer exists, even though Googlebot crawls to a 404 location every day for months.

  25. Matt

    Supplemental, that’s not my understanding. If you look at the cached page, it shows the last crawled date for pages. Supplemental pages are often older, and haven’t been visited as recently. I’d be happy to see examples if you wanted though.

  26. Supplemental Challenged

    I’m surprised you would say that as it is just plain false.

    How can I send you examples?

  27. Hey Matt – how about using our site ohwy.com as a sample to demonstrate to others things to avoid. You can tear us up here in public if you want.

    We appear ok in the Google index but the pages are filtered out of almost all results now, even for obscure things like “uzbekistan travel” for which we are a top resource.

    I suspect it may relate to the fact we had several domains (for different states) and had a lot of 302s that were used to count clicks out of the site. These have all been replaced by 301s but it has not helped at all.

  28. SoftwareEngineer99

    Hello Matt. I really wanted to ask you a question. Why is Google AdSense Team praising Weblogs Inc when they are openly selling direct text links to anyone who pays them? See any of their blogs and you will see that they have a “Buy text link here” ad with none of the links using rel=”nofollow”.

    Why does Google treat some publishers so differently even when they blatantly go against Google’s TOS?

    Regards

  29. Daniel

    Hi Matt

    I just had a look and the “old pages” are gone from the SERP, and our site is ranking fine agian (this is only on some DC’s)

    Not sure what you did:) but thanks anycase!

  30. There’s an additional step that you should definitely do if you’ve got dynamic content and want to avoid having to synchronize the database. You’ll need more time to move with this method, so it’s not always doable. But if you’ve got time, this is a must:

    Change name server to a dynamic DNS provider. Wait until the dns migration is complete. THEN move to a new webhost. You can switch IP number in a moment, and the changes go live in that instant. The only issue then is local dns cache, but basically everybody should see the new site right away.

    Then move the name servers to the new host.

  31. Like Andy (comment above), I moved a WP installation onto a new domain. Turned off comments before exporting, and I ended up using .htaccess to redirect. Worked like a treat, with Google picking up the change almost straight away. Details here:

    http://www.geekrant.org/2005/03/10/moving-wordpress/

  32. Supplemental Challenged

    I’m surprised you would say that as it is just plain false.

    How can I send you examples?

  33. John

    Matt,

    Will you be posting here when the code handling redirects is updated, or will there be some other way for us to find out when it is safe to move to a new domain ?

  34. My experience with Google search and 301s has been pretty good – I moved my site from a university account to my own domains five years ago without a problem.

    But Google Scholar is completely screwed up. It is indexing pages (written in the last five years) that have ONLY ever existed on dannyreviews.com, under URLs that 301 redirect to there from the old location!

  35. Neil Jackson

    Matt

    When a URL became available that was much more in keeping with a clients business it made commercial sense to use it. So we suggested a 301 from the old site to the new site. This was quickly picked up and a search for http://www.olddomain.com to shows the result as http://www.newdomain.com. All new URL pages are now indexed.

    However, a search for the company name, which is in the url, and the site cannot be found which was the case before the redirect was in place. Is there a time period that we can expect this issue to reslove itslef – the site has disappeard for six weeks now.

  36. Matt

    John, I’m sure the net will notice it, but I’ll try to post too.

  37. I had a similar problem with a client’s domain and used an apache config redirect to solve part of the problem and the Google remove URL tool to clean up.

    My client bought a domain from someone so that they could drop their existing domain that had two words separated by a hyphen for the other domain with no hyphen. The other domain was how they spelled their company name.

    Luckily this client didn’t have much of a page rank on the old domain. I went to work doing SEO on the new domain and discovered that the new domain was well indexed but for the wrong industry.

    I used the Google remove URL tool to get rid of all the old pages that were not related.

    http://services.google.com:8882/urlconsole/controller?cmd=reload&lastcmd=siteDown&cmd=siteDown

    You will need an account (gmail works) to use this tool.

  38. Probably also worthwhile to mention that if you sign up with a host, make sure they have a referral commission scheme going on – that way you get some income to pay for your own hosting…

  39. Ralf

    Hello Matt,
    Moving to a different domain! but 301 redirect is not allowed or not possible!

    Within a couple of month I have to move a site from a sub-domain on a provides site to an other domain. The provider doesn’t allow use of httacces. As I understand there is also no way using 301 within the head section of HTML.
    My question, does the new coding improve in a case like this?
    The site in question is about 3 years old and has nice SERP’s, which I do not want to lose. (Not to mention the time I spend on the site).

    Thanks

    Ralf

  40. That was gr8 turorial . I was always wondering & suspicious of changing the host for my website http://shainaoverseas.com . I always needed such tutorial. Gr8 piece of information m8.

    Regards
    Kritika
    http://shainaoverseas.com

  41. Is there a preferred or safe way to redirect domain.com to http://www.domain.com – I have finally done this on my sites, but I am worried that the code I used will annoy the googlebot.

  42. As undercover China said:

    “Probably also worthwhile to mention that if you sign up with a host, make sure they have a referral commission scheme going on – that way you get some income to pay for your own hosting…”

    Thats the easiest way to make money, people are always asking for recommendations, why not make one on your own site? If they like your site then they will accept your reccomendations as informative.

    James

  43. Matt,

    I noticed Google PR update has took flight and your Google PR went from 0 to 7….that’s great! How you do it?? Is it a Google Engineer secret?? You didn’t have anything to do with it….did u? Share the secret with a fellow Chapel Hillian….actually Carrboro, but close enough!

  44. Markus

    Hi Matt,

    when running a site and having 3 domains for it (all with the same content), would it be recommended to have two of the domains redirecting (301) to 1 domain or having just all 3 domains running the same site?

  45. Great step by step. As a hosting provider I normally tell my clients to keep there old side active until everything has been backed up and transferred properly to the new server. At times clients forget that propagation times due have an effect on whether or not someone from another region sees the updated information properly. Although propagation time for dns has improved, this does not mean that all nameservers around the world will be able to update in the same timely fashion. Great choice of words!

  46. Just a couple points to add here:

    [1] Note that if your TTL is currently 1 day, you can’t just lower it to 1 hour and change your IP (well, you can, but it won’t do any good). Once you lower the TTL to 1 hour, you need to wait 24 hours for the old cached records to expire. Then, you can make the change (or, lower the TTL again to perhaps a minute, then wait an hour, and then make the change).

    [2] The popularity of the NS records doesn’t make *any* difference in how long it will take for the change to take effect. Whether you switch to GANDI’s DNS servers or some no-name’s DNS servers, the change in NS records will take exactly the same amount of time.

    [3] It doesn’t take “a day or so” to change NS records. For .com/.net domains, it takes a bit more than 48 hours. Specifically, the TTL for NS records on every .com/.net domain is 48 hours. So once you change the NS records, for the next 48 hours some people will end up using the old DNS servers, some the new ones.
    -Scott

  47. Donna Bedford

    Matt

    Thanks for a great post. I have an issue with a page I am trying to promote to the UK. The content is done in the US but I do have a registered hosting service in the UK and a UK domain. I have been doing a 302 redirect to the US content but Google is refusing to index the page. Would I be better to change this to a 301?

  48. HUD

    I did a 301 in August for my company website as part of a rebranding excercise (after reading Google’s official advice about changing domain names). It’s not been seen in Google since.

    I’d avoid doing a 301 until Google manage to sort this bug out. Hopefully Matt is right about changing the code that handles this over the next couple of months.

    As Modemmike said, this seems to be affecting a lot of websites, so it can’t be good for the relevancy of Google’s results. If Google can’t sort this out they should consider Modemmike’s idea of a paid manual review. There are many good sites out there that Google is ignoring because of this bug.

  49. Sarah

    “I’d be happy to see examples”

    Hi Matt,

    And thanks for this topic! More than 30 days ago we 301d http://www.site.com/?referrer=google to http://www.site.com/. And although Googlebot crawls us on a daily basis, http://www.site.com/?referrer=google is still very much alive and well (unfortunately) according to the SERPS.

    Over the past 30 days, the best support has offered is today’s response that states,

    our robots “should” (quotes mine) note this change after subsequent updates.

    After reading this blog, the impact of http://www.site.com/?referrer=google being a supplemental became very clear. However the cache for http://www.site.com/?referrer=google is January (that’s not a typo) 23, 2005!

    Therefore if you could forward this issue to the crawl-indexing team, as offered in the original posting above, we would really appreciate it. You’ll see our URL in my email address.

    Thanks!
    Sarah

  50. Matt, the problem when switching an old domain to a new one via a 301 redirect is that the new one gets thrown into the whole aging delay thing. Why should an old site that has paid its dues have to wait another 9 months to get their rankings back?

    It would be great if you would look into that and fix it. Right now, we’ve had to recommend 302s from old domains to new for clients who needed to switch and couldn’t afford to lose all their rankings for 9 months.

    Any comments on this?

  51. Dave

    I have a closely related question. Matt, (or anyone else that has experience with this) I would be extremely grateful for your input….

    I am having a 10 year old domain name (that ranks extremely well in Google for some competetive keyword phrases) transfered from my name into someone else’s name. So basically the domain name registration info & location of hosting are going to change at the same time. Will this negatively effect this domain name’s rankings in Google for this to occur? It would be a huge deal if the age of the domain or the PR were reset due to these moves. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

    Dave

  52. donna

    hi

    We have a site hosted in the UK with a .co.uk domain, however like the majority of large companies are localized content is actually created in the US even though it is UK specific. In order to try and get a localized search we have had to buy a .co.uk site but due to data lay out it is impossible to content on that server — css files etc cause a night mare

    So we tried doing a 302 redirect from the .co.uk domain to the US content for the UK however, this did not make a difference, then we tried doing a 301 redirect from the .co.uk domain to the US content and this made the UK page go to a supplemental. So now, we are trying a meta refresh from the .co.uk to the US (yes we know this is bad but we see one of us competitors using this quite successfully) but we are still showing as supplemental.

    So the question is: how as a global company are we suppose to provide localized content to our customer in different countries with out actually host content on domains in every country. Isn’t about time Google accepted this is the way companies worked. It would be so much easier if you could add meta tag to say which country the page is targeting and then the page is included in that localized search

  53. Hi Matt,
    Thanks so much for this blog site. Just today I found your site and am reading on. A lot of very useful tips and hints here. Thanks again. I am reading from the earlier posts to the new one.
    I have a question regarding the redirects.
    I am hosting two websites in one IP address and I use Response.Redirect method of ASP( resulting a 302) to redirect the domains to subfolders in the main root directory. So that I can keep each sites files seperately in each folder.
    eg. When you type the domain1.com it first checks the index.asp fiile which redirects to /domain1/index.asp. This shows a 302 in my server logs. Will this create a problem for google bots to crawl the entire site?
    I have heard that bots prefer 301 redirects to 302.
    Can you write your another blog about this?
    Thanks in advance.

  54. Matt,

    You mention changing domains is to be avoided and now I see why. The company I work for changed their name from a regional one to a more general one as they have moved beyond their previous geographic borders. In business this happens a lot. With the company name change came a change in domain as well. It just makes sense!

    But alas, Google is not doing well with this at all. I have posted on my experience here: http://forums.seochat.com/seo-help-general-chat-16/domain-transfer-experiment-53222.html

    I have to say it is disappointing to see Google lagging so far behind on something that should be pretty straitforward. Domain changes happen in business often as companies are bought out, merge, or just go in new directions. It’s disappointing to think that they can’t take their web site with them through these changes.

    Is there any advice you can offer on this? I have followed your recomendations in the above post and the webmaster guidelines to no avail. I have also attempted to contact Google’s customer service with no response.

    Please help!

  55. Zaphod

    Clearly Google has a huge problem with both allowing a sites domain name to be changed without effecting it’s ranking and also ensuring the data in it’s indexes is current.

    Right now I have 772 pages in the google index that do no exist and have not for over 6 months and every single page is giving a 404 !

    This is just one site imagine how badley this is effecting Googles relevancy, I don’t think any surfer would be happy with a 404 instead of info on the term they searched for.

    Both Yahoo and MSN have removed all the old pages from their index without any problems I can detect.

    …come on Google this is a serious probem for both yourself, your customers/users and webmasters… how about fixing this, you have geniuses to spare from what I hear…this can’t be too difficult to resolve!..can it ?

    How about a simple web page with a space for a url and button that says “re-index me” !..a webmaster enters their domain and hits “re-index” and all existing pages are deleted and the site is re-spidered based on the “google map” ?

    …I am sure I am over simplifying, but there has to be a solution to this problem

  56. gwen

    our host recently moved our website from one server to another, changing the IP address. it was at this time we dropped out of google completely. they told us google was only concerned with the url not the ip address & that the move, which they insisted on, would not have affected google spidering our site, or our dropping off the charts.

    i don’t know what to think any more!

  57. I moved to new domain name myself. I had to re-run the install.php, then drop the tables in the database, then restore the database. Some file somewhere had a very hidden reference to the old domain name. I couldn’t find it, but that must be what was going on….

  58. I have found over the past 2-3 months that updated pages appear on MSN much faster by about 30 days compared to Google. They also appear to drop alot of the 404 pages that had moved by now. Google still lists pages on the engine that I changed more than 9 months ago!

  59. Colin

    Well I’m moving about 20 domains between servers and so far they have all dropped to PR0. The only thing that’s changed is the IP.

    This is odd, because about a year ago the IP was changed on my server and that had no effect.

  60. Hello Matt and everyone else.

    After much fretting, I finally had to change my hosting last month simply because the rather small one I had used for the past 6 years couldn’t cope with the traffic anymore. And also becuase the company I have always had it registered had started to offer their own professional hosting packages rather than outsourcing small hosting solutions as they had always done before.

    I learnt Matts advice on moving to a new web host off by heart ; ) and also sent it to the people overseeing the changeover to the new hosting so that we could all follow his guidelines which we did. The first week seemed ok, but statistics have been falling ever since. My old hosting was in the USA and the new one is in Canada. I was advised that this would make no difference to Google and other search engines, but I am concerned at the fall in statistics and wonder now if I have been advised mistakenly.

    There isn’t much I can do now except carry on working hard on content to drive the site up the rankings again. But I would like to know what Google’s policy is if possible. Any advice Matt?

  61. Matt: We’re about to move to a Candaian host as well (from a US host) and are currently ranked extremely well across all engines. Will MOVING TO A CANADIAN HOST do anything to affect our rankings?

  62. I think it’s not right that Google sends a site back to the sandbox after changing domain names using a 301 redirection. If the instruction is PERMANENT, and given by its webmaster, why penalize a site that took years to build traffic and rank only because of a new name?

    So here’s my idea: Google should provide a way for webmasters to implement a 301 redirect with certain requirements so that the change in domain name is immediate, permanent, and with no sandbox and no penalty for the new domain name. Google should define the requirements for this “webmaster-certified” 301 redirect to make sure it is not abused or tricked. Such requirements could be that the 301 redirect be within the same IP address, that the new domain name point to the exact same folder as the old site and be implemented as a “parked” or ‘alias’ domain, etc.

  63. I think Jill makes a great point and she’s quite the expert in this area as well. Any updates on this, Matt?

  64. Hey Matt thanks for all! What will happen if we close old host before Google indexing the new host ? My friend want to move his adress http://www.jewelleryistanbul.com to a new host. How can he dump database? He use phpmyadmin.

  65. Hello,
    We can offer great hosting, if you are interested in switching hosts, check us out. email me for better prices, or use live support.

  66. Johan a.k.a. T0PS3O

    Matt,

    I have a question that yielded no reassuring answers on the big Search forums.

    I’ll leave out the specifics as per your guidelines though I’ll be happy to provide them to you if that helps you answer this scenario better.

    We’re in the process of bringing 5 different shops (retail but with quality content alongside) on 5 different domains under one umbrella on our corporate domain. Domains will change. I will do 301s for each and every URL to its actual new place on the new domain.

    Here’s my ‘worry’. And because not many have seen to have done such a big operation recently, I’ve not been able to find solid answers.

    At least one of those 5 sites seems to have Google ‘stamp of authority approval’. It’s been around for 3 years, is a solid niche, has quality links, never engaged in anything grey or black. For it’s topic it ranks for everything I throw at it. I can literally throw a new article up today and will be top 10 tomorrow or the day after.

    Now, when I move this it will be part of a larger ‘shopping portal’ and the domain as a whole will loose its ‘niche’. The quality content will all go in files off the root, not in subdomains that perhaps could have preserved the niche status.

    Can you enlighten us on what is likely to happen in terms of ranking for these 400 or so pages once they’re part of the bigger (2500+ pages) ‘umbrella shop’? The new domain isn’t actually new, it’s been online, without anything nasty, for the same amount of time, a bit longer even. The WHOIS data always pointed to the same company as the niche domain so Google must have the two ‘affiliate by host’ already.

    I hope you do go through older posts like this, I would be very grateful if you could comment on whether or not this ‘authority’ power, this ‘niche’ will be preserved by just 301ing URLs. I’m afraid Google judges sites as a whole and bases ranking potential on that but I hope you can provide some encouraging words.

    Thanks.

    Johan (UK, if it matters – BigDaddy and all that)

  67. Johan a.k.a. T0PS3O

    Part II…

    Should have probably mentioned the domain everything will move to will first move to the same server as the 5 sites are on as well. So…

    1. Change of corporate domain IP because of swap to dedicated server (same as it’s ‘child’ sites.
    2. Content moved from 5 sites to corporate domain. All URLs 301ed.
    3. Will use Google Sitemaps to aid GoogleBot in finding all the moved content.
    4…. Drop in rankings? Pages lost from index? Everything as normal?

    Cheers.

  68. I have supplemental pages on my site for over 6 months, pretty much all site is supplemental in Google cache. If I change to another IP, will Google refresh its cache and get rid of supplemental pages?

  69. I moved my site from http://blogs.linux.ie/xeer/ to http://ocaoimh.ie/ 3 days ago and then I read this morning that the 301 redirect could penalise me. *ouch*
    I noticed this morning that Google bot has been to visit. Here’s hoping that it’ll be nice to me!

  70. I see no reply from Matt to Johan’s question, after more than a month of waiting.

    This is simply more evidence that Google really doesn’t care about web publishers, the web, the quality of their search engine results, or the user experience of their searchers.

    For Google, it is all about AdWords. Everything else is a sideshow.

  71. Just for the record; I recently moved one of my websites from one web host to another and it didn’t affect my rankings in Google at all. It’s been at least 6 weeks now, so it’s pretty safe to say it shouldn’t hurt your rankings to do so.

    Regards,

    Dave

  72. I just used this for moving my site. Thanks for the help.

  73. Hi Matt,

    Thanks for the great post about moving host. However, I am not very clear about step no.2. Can you explain that to me, sorry I am not a technical person. This is my 1st time to move host, I have been trying to most it, but it doesnt come out the result.

    Let me mention what is my step of moving host here, pls help me to identify the mistakes coz I am not getting it right, I appreciate your help and also extend to others can help me on this.

    1. Backup databse file from WP-admin login.
    2. Ask the new host to do server to server transfer
    3. change nameserver to new host one

    The old database name is wrdp1 & new one is wordpress
    The old & new usernames are same steven.

    I didnt change the setting in the wp-config.php file, is that mean this will not working? I also tends to upgrade my wp version to 2.0.4 (latest) fr 2.0.1 or 2.0.1 version. What are the steps should I do?

    Should I transfer the database first n then upgrade or install a newer version of WP in new host and then create the new database follow by moving in the old files. If that is the case, which are the files I should move from old host?

    I know this sound a bit challenging to me, but I am not sure do anyone of you have done this? Pls let me know.

    Many thanks to your help in advance here…
    Steven

    P/S: Matts, did your comments plugin will send me a reply when u or someone reply?

  74. I plan also a removal to new host, because mine can often not be attained.

  75. Just a suggestion: Any time I move a site, I will copy the old files over to the new server and change one minor thing on the site, such as a word in the footer part of the site. That way I know when the DNS has successfully switched. Good luck to all those that “choose to move”!

    Michael

  76. I just transfered a domain that ranked #3 in google for a specific keyword up until the transfer was complete. Now my domain is almost non existent for that same keyword. Google Sitemap statisitics indicate their are no issues.

    Any advice?

  77. May be your site hasnt been indexed yet.

  78. I fear i may be alittle behind on this post to get a response, but Ill try anyway.

    My prob is this

    I have a site, and own 4 different domain names for it. 2 .com’s and 2 .co.uk’s. I had a .com while i was building the site online, googles loved me for that and ranked me well in worldwide.

    Thing is, Im targeting the UK and cant make money from the rest of the world.
    A google.co.uk search gets me on page 6 max.

    So, Ive switched to the .co.uk domain as my primary, but i dont know how to get that domain indexed.
    The site is already indexed, but named as the .com, its the same site, same content, same IP, same everything but I need it to be indexed as the .co.uk.
    Going to any url other than the .com creates a 302 redirect (i think by my host), I think I need that to be a 301.
    htaccess is out of the question as its all the same site, so what the hell do I do?

    Thanks for any replies, its greatly appreciated.
    Andy

  79. Az

    Hello Folks,
    Could anyone tell me how google finds new website names?
    lets say there is a new website with brand new IP address in kazakhstan. How does googlebot find out about that?
    does it use all .kz IP range and does reverse dns lookup or simply it has the access to DNS database of Kazak Name registrar? or it has its own Bind server?
    Sincerely,
    Az

  80. When you make 301 redirect it is recommended to publish about the changes in different press release site, I found most of the webmaster forget to inform the web community about the changes after 301 permanent redirect.

  81. In the past I’ve followed these DNS change steps to the ‘t’ and have never had any issues that I knew about. But, here’s a slightly different situation.

    My ISP went bust. They didn’t communicate this to us until it was too late. They just shut down and took our ecommerce site with them.

    We had planned on moving hosts, but had not been fully prepared for an emergency like this. So, when commerce site A at BADHOST was gone/down, we redirected to commerce site B at NEWHOST which had similar content but not all the static files existed there. This got us by for a few days while we configured site A at NEWHOST. For the missing static files, we did temporary 302 redirects to the root page of the site B.

    Once we had site A to a functional point, we changed DNS to point from B, back to A at NEWHOST and removed the 302 redirect.

    Now we seem to be suffering with a drop in traffic and page ranks in Google and other search engines. Does anyone know a way to confirm this flip-flop of DNS was completed successfully and or if this has had ill effects on our page listings?

    Thank you!

  82. We’ve recently taken on a client who has a portal solution wirrten in PHP and Mysql database. In light of the project brief it would be best to redesign the whole portal in coldfusion for various reasons.

    This presents a problem in that the current hsoting provider only hosts PHP not only that but some of the pages come up top in google such as http://www.clientdomain.com/search.php?somespecifictext – thos normally relates to a subject matter.

    If we go ahead and port the code over to CFM and obviously change hosting provider how can we guarantee or ensure the site continues to rank highly in the respective google searches? What do we need to be careful and aware of and what is advisable we do – continue in php? are there tools that can help in this situation?

    Does this mean that when such a project is started choosing the development language is crucial as you may no be able to progress to a different paltform due to SEO issues?

  83. Hello all,
    thank you Matt for this wonderful article. just want to ask. I am having problem with changing the DNS, i mean i changed the DNS to new one. but site doest comes up after one day. i think TTL is too high. should i wait more?
    will it be a problem if i keep the old hosting till the new comes up and then shut down the old one?
    Please reply someone.
    Thanks and regards,
    Ajay

  84. Much has been said on this board about the “aging delay” and the “sand box” on this board.

    We just rebranded our site and changed our domain name and set up a 301 redirect to our new site (unfortunately, we read this board after doing that).

    But, here is my question about the aging delay or sandbox. It has been about 3-4 weeks since we went online. If we input our URL into Google like the following: site:www.yourwebsite.com, we have over 2000 items indexed in Google for the new site. But, if we just input the name of the site, we only get the home page and all of the places where our google ad got spidered. We cannot reach any of the 2000 items

    Is this an example of being “sand boxed” or “aged delayed”..not being able to look up our indexed items with our url?

  85. question about IP country location on google.com rankings. My US client hosts their site in Canada. We stuggle to get their highly relevant keywords ranked well on google.com compared to their US competitors – but we rank very high on Google.ca.

    If we move our site to a US host, will we see a significant jump in our relevant keyword rankings?

  86. We just moved to a bigger server using the same domain name, but a new IP address. We were using Google Analytics, and watched the traffic during the move.

    As the new IP promulgated around the world, the traffic from Google searches dropped to zero, at least withing the USA. Non-US datacenters are still sending search result visitors from our popular keywords.

    No traffic from the good old USA since the move. What’s up? Google still lists us as a PR4 and still shows thousands of our pages in their site:domain.com report, just as before, but suddenly no search results showing for the new IP.

    Is there something wrong, or does Google USA simply drop sites from listings when they move to new IP addresses, even though their domain name stays the same?

    Thanks for your help!

  87. Jerry

    I have the same problem. I switched my site over to a new hosting company and put it on a new ip address/dns.

    Now google can’t find my site. 2 weeks after the last cache the cache disappeared.

    Anyone know of a way to get google to see it once again.

    I use to rank highly for some good keywords but now my site is non existent in the google index.

  88. Hi Matt,
    I have a client who was ignorant enough to go with a .org domain when they started out. They’re doing quite well in the rankings but are looking to do better. At Boston and Vegas, I took from various sources that a .org domain for a non-non-profit enterprise will always rank lower than a .com. Also, I picked up that domain age is a big factor in site rank. I’ve found a .com domain in their possession that has been registered for a few years but has an absolute zero pagerank (I’m guessing because the site is the same site as the .org) Would 301 redirecting the .org domain to the .com domain really be a worthwhile endeavor? I’m fairly new to SEO but 301 redirects seem to be a good way to repair a site. Can you give a yay or nay to domain change suggestion? Thanks. I’m looking to get the site entered into the “Rake me over the coals” session at Pubcon.

  89. HI Matt,
    I am also having the similar type of problem while redirecting my site, here its not at all redirecting to a new domain but to the same domain to different folder. Like
    http://www.herbspro.com/02107801011.htm has been redirected to http://www.herbspro.com/7350/Resveratrol.htm
    I am using response.redirect in ASP to redirect all the pages. But my problem is the internal pages are becoming supplemental as soon as cached. How to overcome this problem, I am really very confused.

  90. Hi Matt,
    Thanks for addressing this question. I was very glad to find your original post about this subject, but as I read through the comments and saw all the problems people are having, I don’t know what to think now. Also, you’ve stopped answering them – which might be a bad omen.

    I hope you can answer this: In addition to moving to a new host, I want to launch a redesigned site under the old domain name at about the same time. Does this add another level of possible problems, since I can’t redirect equivalent pages from the old site to the new, due to reorganization of the content and navigation structure?

  91. Hi there,

    I have a blog on Blogger and I’m stumped as to how to get a custom domain! I see all of these problems people are having with swtiching their domains, but it really doesn’t seem to bad except for the duplicate conent issue, which NO ONE seems to mention at all!! I think it would be fairly easy to move to a new domain (either use 301 or use the META tags NOINDEX and NOFOLLOW for blogger), but the real issue is that you’re going to get penalized for duplicate content unless you can remove your current pages from the Google index. How does one do that!??!

    Thanks

  92. Hey Matt, good article.
    I have control over my own nameservers for http://www.proxycarbon.com which is a myspace proxy site, and i set them up using the same domain name and put ns1 and ns2 in front. I used a different hostname from the domain name, and also put in a tertiary nameserver from my host for safety sake.

  93. Matt, I should add that the above setup, where nameservers are on the same physical machine as my domains such as my mspace proxy, is not the best setup for redundancy, since it is a single point of failure of course. That is where the tertiary host comes into play.

  94. Hi Matt, what about say moving from a .com.au to .com domain?

    example: moving from zzz.com.au to zzz.com, do we need to do a 301 redirect from .com.au to .com? Is it ok to have content exactly the same in both domains which we own for a long time?

    Looking forward to your reply

    Regards
    Bryan

  95. This is my personal view that there is more fluctuation occur when server is changed
    It may be vary server to server and site to site

  96. Ah, if only it were this easy =)

    Rarely does the transition ever move along this nicely when transferring a WordPress blog. I’m in the process right now, and I wish I wouldn’t have even started.

    The problem is in Step 2. Haven’t really figured out the specifics, but Webhost 1 says it’s Webhost 2′s problem, and vice-versa, so I never really get anywhere.

    This is so fun.

  97. just wondering if you can actually keep the old page ranking and transfer it to the new domain ?

  98. Fran

    I had done some research as to who is happy with their webhost and who is not, too much time invested?! not really. unless you get someone else to do the dirty work to spend all that time finding a new webhost.

    so here is the reason why im posting this win – win situation:

    I got my hosting a few months ago with servage and I’m quite happy with them and the price is right, they give me tons of space and good traffic amounts. they have unlimited this unlimited that, most of which i would never use.

    it was my friend that hooked me up and I wanted to share that with you as well as give you my coupon code, with that you get additional 2 months free and so do I. – thats the honest to goodness deal. I think you get that when you sign up for 12 months maybe less not sure.

    here is the link, if you use this you dont have to put in the coupon number. you can do the same thing after youre on and continue to get free hosting when others sign up under your coupon code which you get when you sign up with them. best wishes, enjoy

    heres the link:
    http://www.servage.net/?coupon=cust38746

    cheers

  99. Hi Matt,

    I’m interested to see if things have changed since 2005 when this post started. We are not moving domain but am moving to new web store software. This means the domain is the same but over 3000 urls will be changing. We will setup 301 redirects for each page to the new corresponding page. Is this still the best method? While we can maintain the existing urls with a bit of work, it feels like we should just bite the bullet and move over to the naming. Both are “seo url friendly’ but they are just written differently.

  100. Thanks for the tip. Whenever I make a change to a new host I find that its not always as smooth. I will keep my fingers crossed on the transisition

  101. Thanks for the tip, Matt. Amazing how old posts can still come in handy even several years later! I’ve seen the TTL but never really knew much about it. I’m currently having the pleasant privilege of doing some web hosting transferring (fun), and your article answered some questions I had. Thanks much!

  102. ayfo

    matt
    sorry i know it’s too old, but i do what u said
    i moved to a new domain, but geuss what ?!

    the old domain lost the PR4 and become PR0
    and the new one, get PR0 !

    i start moving in 1st oct.2008, so, should i wait more?

    ayfo

  103. Jag

    Good thoughts and definitely changing IP haec a slight drop in traffic for a while may be some weeks, and it is all how you makeup the drops with promotional techniques :)

  104. ayfo

    so matt, i shouldn’t trust your words again, right?
    ok, it’s easy, thanx any way

  105. Hi Matt,

    We are a start-up multi destination trip planner and (local) search engine. Our intention is that only content for a destination will be hosted in the destination on a local domain, and we intend to do that for all our services.

    Problem is we started with our first 3 countries all on our .com domain, and did not seem to progress very well in google with the second and third published countries.

    We now moved content for an entire destination (England) of our .com domain to a local .co.uk domain hosted in the UK. We did 301 from the .com site to the .co.uk for each page. Is this the right thing to do? What are the specifics that differ from just changing a domain name but staying on.com.

    Thanks a lot in advance. We just want to get this right.

  106. Hello

    i have a question about 301 permenant redirect, im using a windows server , and i asked my company to 301 redirect 12allchat.com to www,12allchat.com, they made it but they redirected it to http://www.12allchat.com/index.php.

    is that fine? is it the same as redirecting to to the domain name only without index.php?

    thanx in advance, and this is a great article im moving soon and its very helpful.

  107. Thanx this is really usefull

    But i have a question about moving databases.

    The dump command wont retain the same tables structure of the database. is there a command in mysql to do it? take structure of database and all contents?

    What about plesk panel database backup? it will take structure and content or just content?

    Regards.

  108. Hello Matt,
    Good info, but since it’s from 3+ years ago, is it still accurate?

    We’re about to move from a domain with a lot of links, online press and “Google juice” to a new domain and we’re concerned about losing the fruits of our efforts for the last 2 years.

    Is there an updated version of this post? What other resources can you recommend?

    Thanks!
    John

  109. Lots of hosts have different control panels with built in migration tools that can help facilitate the migration of websites. While the steps in Matt’s article are good (although a bit out-dated now), they should always prove to be the critical and vital part of making the move a successful one.

  110. I have actually been through this process and had a difficult time with the DNS part of things for some reason. The new host had so much trouble setting it up and I had to go a few days with dealing with this situation.

    The domain 301 re-direct is a problem I’ve seen with having search engines counting a sites authority. Isn’t it true you lose some of the authority by redirecting?

  111. I think you lose between 1%-10% of link juice per 301 redirected page. So it loses some juice, but not enough to have a tragic effect on your site

  112. This was really useful. I had to move servers twice, and this was my guide both times. Everything went smoothly!

    Thanks a lot Matt!

  113. What about IP in excluded range? As per my online reading i find that most of websites gets this error when they are moving to new host. (Not personal experience!)

    If there is any no mistake from webmaster side then only Google can solve this error by next time fetching.

    can you please suggest any solution for that?

  114. Just moved my site to a new host, from NL to the US. I now have a dedicated IP address on a Cloud Server, but unfortunately the move didn’t go without hesitations – the server was down for a bit. Currently I am not even ranking for my brand name, hence I searched the web and found this article. I keep my fingers crossed, as this site is my main source of income :(

  115. Dear Matt first of all thanks for all your posts it helps us alot
    well Matt am handling a project Hungry Bags its a travel portal currently we have just done the soft launch of this website and at present its running on a normal server now my boss is saying will take dedicated server after 3months can you tell me,lf i start promotion and after 3months i change my hosting, will it effect my websites ranking or no.

  116. Is there en easy way to transfer a Magento installation from one host to another an have the 301 redirects created automatically ? There are more than 1500 links , how can I transfer to a different domain without losing all my google rankings?

    Also , do I have to export and import the database or is there a simpler way ? Do you think google will sense the change of hosting server ? will that have any affect?

    Thanks.

  117. Hi Matt,

    I’d be interested in an update to this article that takes into account changing domain names and the affect to your search engine ranking now that there is an official change of domain tool. Any possibility you’d like to comment or write up an article on that?

    Thanks!

  118. Maria

    If you purchase hosting at one host, and your domain is on another registrar, can you simply list your hosting provider’s name servers on your registrar’s info for your domain? Or do you need to initiate a Domain Transfer and pay the host? How will your host know what to do with incoming requests for a domain you never told the host about?

  119. What if I change Url, can I still maintain google rank?

  120. joe

    You should have put step four in bold, italics, red letters. Maybe put the word “PATIENCE” in big letters to either side of it. I’m on hour six of my changeover. At about the 4 hour mark the big search engine spiders all found my site, and I had visitors roaming around, but I could only get in by using the IP address instead of the domain. Now at about 7 hours and I’m still waiting. I’ve got a small ISP, don’t know who they buy their bandwidth from but I hope they flush their system soon – I’ve been pacing in circles around the computer, flushing cookies/history/dns cache and trying again every five minutes. The suspense is killing me.

  121. Seems it takes months to get indexing back to where it was even if you perfectly change domains like i have and 301 redirect every page/post to exactly the same on the new domain.

    I made an exact copy of my site and did this and lost 90% of my traffic even though the new site is an exact copy and the 301′s are mod_rewrite in htaccess worked perfectly

    The truth here is Google don’t like this happening and you end up starting from scratch to build your domain authority and trust even though link juice and PR are supposed to transfer to the new domain.

    Its one year down the drain in reality when i moved domains when my content is all helpful tutorials 100% about WordPress

    WHY????????

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