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Domain Name Change
Posted 16 June 2004 - 07:06 AM
I have a customer who has very good rankings in Yahoo (number 3) for www.darlingdollworks.com. Recently she requested a domain name change to www.dollandbearworks.com because she's adding bears to her product line.
I have finished this new site but I don't know how to make the transition. At this point both sites exists. How do I go about getting rid of the old web site pages without losing the high rankings?
One more thing, the MySQL database with all her products is still tied to the old website because I didn't know how to move this, nor did I want to start from scratch so I have this new site access the database on the old site. They are both on the same servers.
I read something about a 301 page, if this is needed, please explain how I do this and what else is needed.
Thanks a million!!!
Posted 16 June 2004 - 07:21 AM
Posted 16 June 2004 - 07:36 AM
Yes, follow the info in the thread Qwerty pointed out and you should be fine.
Posted 16 June 2004 - 07:48 AM
Thank you so much!
Posted 16 June 2004 - 07:55 AM
If I read the 301 thread correctly, I can just put this piece of PHP code at the top of my index.php?
header("HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently");
Thanks again for all your valuable help!
Posted 16 June 2004 - 10:00 AM
Basically, you can either code it into each individual page of the old site or you can set up a 301 Permanent Redirect at the server level (via .htacess on a *nix server). With the number of pages I'm envisioning on the original site, this second option may be your best option. At least where Google is concerned. Yahoo! doesn't do really well with 301's unfortunately.
I'll be testing a couple of theories regarding getting Y! to update things when a site moves in a few weeks. I happen to have a project coming up that will allow me to do a bit of testing, so I'm going to take advantage of this to see if I can find any "tricks" that will work to kick Yahoo! Slurp into gear when you're trying to move a site. If I find out anything useful I'll make sure to post it for others benefit.
For the moment a 301 is your best option.
Regarding your database question, I am going to assume that you're talking about a MySQL database. If you're going to be closing down the hosting platform for the old domain any time in the future you'll want to migrate that over to the new domain. Otherwise it will get wiped out most likely when you discontinue hosting on the old domain.
The control panel for the server should have some Database Administration software on it already. Most likely phpMyAdmin. If it doesn't have any such software already you can always install phpMyAdmin on the old site to use. It's free software.
With this type of software you can do a Dump --or make a Backup Copy-- of everything in the database and then use that to re-establish an identical copy on the new domain. It's usually a pretty simple process to move a database once you get the hang of it.
My only caution is to leave the old database in place when you do the dump. Give the new one a slightly different name and switch over to that in the configuration of whatever shopping cart software you're using so that you can test the copied version. That'll make sure nothing gets lost in the move. Better safe than sorry.
Posted 16 June 2004 - 03:10 PM
Thanks for the great advice and thorough explanations and all the time you took out to write this, I really appreciate that!
I've never done a dump but since I am hosting my customers websites myself on a *nix server, with PHPMyAdmin, it shouldn't be too difficult. I'd like to learn how to do this anyway. I'll practice on one of my other databases and websites.
I'd like to do a 301 at the server level, is this something that can be done in the cpanel?
Too bad Yahoo isn't up to par with the 301 redirect because that's where we are ranking high. I wonder if I should wait until you've tried out a few new things for Yahoo.
Thanks again Randy! You've been a great help!
Posted 17 June 2004 - 06:36 AM
1. You'll find that PHPMyAdmin is pretty easy to use. About the only thing to remember when you're creating a dump that will be used to recreate the database from scratch it to make sure your backup includes both the data and the structure. Piece of cake to use once you get the hang of it.
2. I'm not sure if cPanel has a built in 301 generator or not. It didn't used to, but it's been a good while since I last used that particular control panel. Maybe someone more familiar with the newer models of cPanel and offer more info.
3. From what you've described, it sounds as of you're going to be keeping the same diretory/file structure on the new site that you have on the old site. Your best options IMO would be to use either the RedirectMatch or mod_rewrite examples from the thread that Qwerty mentioned above.
Personally, I would probably use RedirectMatch because it's all that's needed, and it uses less overhead than mod_rewrite. But if the server supports mod_rewrite that will certainly do the trick too. And give you more flexibility if you need to change file names.
One caveat I need to mention here, since there will be no way for me to tell.
For some older or non-patched versions of Apache RedirectMatch will not work as expected to forward things properly when the URL has a question mark ( ? ) in it. The problem is that some versions of Apache run under "urlencdoe" which will change a ? character into %3F. There is an Apache 2.0 patch to correct this, but if your host hasn't applied the patch and/or if you're running an older version of Apache, there's not much you can do to correct the bug.
So if you try RedirectMatch and see the ? character being replaced with %3F your only real option is going to be to use the mod_rewrite, even though it puts more load on the CPU.
Both of those are done simply by dropping the code into an .htaccess file an uploading it the the root level of the old domain. So it'll be pretty easy for you to test to see if RedirectMatch will work for you or not.
As far as Y! and 301s, I don't see much danger in using this for the moment. They've been aware for some time that they don't handle those very well. The only danger, if there is one at all, is that they would show the two sites as dupes. In which case one of the two domains would get dropped from the SERPs.
I've never seen that happen overnight. So if you make a note of all of the links Yahoo! shows as pointing to the old domain, contact those webmasters to let them know about the domain name change, everything should be fine. Chances are that both sites will show up in the Yahoo! SERPs for a time, with the new site slowly climbing to the level of the old site as those links are corrected and Y! updates their database.
My little test is simply going to be one where I'm looking for a way to make this type of change more recognizable for Yahoo! during that time when backlinks are being updated. Google treats 301s exactly as one would expect. Some early testing I and others have done indicate that MSNbot apparently follows 301s properly too, though it's impossible at this point to tell how that's going to be reflected in the SERPs.
Posted 21 June 2004 - 07:24 AM
Sorry for responding so late to your extremely informative reply. I truely appreciate your helpfulness and the useful advice you've given me. Today is the day I will be making the change-over so I will see how it goes with Yahoo and Google. I've already contacted the backlink webmasters about changing the domain name.
Thanks for all your help and the warm welcome I received from you!
Have a great day!
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