Building a new website for your business is exciting. As you plan your new site, you may consider a redesign and maybe even a rebranding. As part of this process you may decide to move your new website to a different domain. Perhaps your current site is performance-shoes.com, and as part of your redesign you decide to move to allrunningshoes.com. That’s fine; but you probably worked hard to earn site ranking for performance-shoes.com. You don’t want to lose your ranking when you move to allrunningshoes.com. To maintain your standing in Google’s search results, follow these steps. To do this you’ll use Google Webmaster Tools, a free tool that lets you check the index status of your site and also increase its visibility for search engines.
Before New Site Launch
1. Make sure your current site is verified in Google Webmaster Tools. What does it mean to verify your site? This is an easy step that lets Google know you are indeed the owner of the site. Google will only release data and other information to the site owner. To verify, Google looks for “proof” such as Google Analytics tracking code added by the owner.
During New Site Launch
2. Add 301 redirects to your old site. A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect from one URL to another. It can be done on the homepage level as well as on internal pages. This is an important step so that pages from your old site get redirected to your new site, and users don’t encounter broken links. (Get the 411 on 301 Redirects.)
After New Site Launch
3. Submit your old sitemap. This will have Google crawl your old site and “see” the redirects that you have in place.
4. Verify your new site in Google Webmaster Tools. (Note: it is important that both your old and new sites be verified in the SAME Google Webmaster Tools account. This may seem obvious, but often, especially if you are working with an agency, people are logging into different accounts to access your site.)
5. Submit a Change of Address for your old site. This lets Google know that your old site moved. To do this, select your old site, and click on the gear icon to the right of it. From the dropdown, choose Change of Address. You can only do this once you’ve verified your new site.
6. Use Fetch as Google for your new site. This handy tool asks Google to crawl your site right away, rather than wait for Google spiders to eventually find your site.
7. Submit a sitemap for your new site. This tells Google to check out your new content.
That’s all there is to it! Good luck and have fun with your new site!