A domain name refers to the address that web users use to get to various sites. The domain resides with the hosting company. A web host transfer is a very simple process and only involves filling out a few forms and waiting for a few days for the transfer to be effective. Here are 5 ltips for how to switch web hosts.
1. Consider Important Factors
Price – Many web-hosting firms advertise low first year rates to attract clients and then charge higher renewal fees in subsequent years. Consider moving to a web host that does not charge higher renewal fees than your current hosting company.
Timing – While some registrars allow their customers to transfer domain names without losing the time left on their previous domain registration rental, others do not. You should check with your web-hosting firm if they allow domain name transfer without losing time on previous domain registration rental to avoid unexpired prior payments from being carried forward.
2. Make The Move
- Create an account with the registrar where you intend to transfer you domain name.
- Login to the account and under the “Administrative Settings”, click “Transfer Domain” and enter the domain name of the registrar you want to transfer your site to and click “OK”.
- Login to the account that hosts your current domain name and check if the administrative contact email is correct. Go to the “Administration Settings” and check that the domain you wish to move to is “Unlocked” and “Active”. The new domain name should be more than 60 days old.
- The new registrar will send you an email requesting transfer of the domain name along with a link for transfer verification and approval.
- Open the email and click on the link to approve the transfer. Your new registrar will then notify the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the domain will be transferred to the new registrar in five to seven days.
3. Use Best Practices For Switching Web Hosts
Test the domain transfer process by moving directory contents in bits or by moving the sub-domain first. Use a 301 redirect to move those pages on your old site to the new site. This will tell search engines that your site has been moved permanently.
Check to see if the pages on the new hosting location are appearing on search engine results. Once you are satisfied that the move has been successful, you can now move the entire site. Avoid doing a blanket 301 redirect directing all traffic from your old site to the new site location. This will prevent 404 Errors but does not augur well with user experience.
Redirecting pages one by one involves more work but it will give you a consistent and transparent experience. If some pages lack a 1:1 match, make sure every page on the old site is redirected to a new page with similar content.
4. Optimize Your Site For Search Engines
The implementation of a new domain name matters a great deal since search engines usually index current domain names and web pages. If all you are doing is simply moving your site’s domain, then you should ensure there is a proper system of 301 redirects and identify top links to refer sources of traffic and ask them to direct their links to the new domain.
The most important step to take when moving domains is to make it easy for search engines to understand that you have made the move to another domain hosting company so that your site can retain as much link equity from the move as possible.
Other factors that can have a significant impact on site visibility include changing content management systems and web design. If you are moving domains as well as changing the design of your web page, you should consider hiring a web design agency or have an in-house design staff create the new web page with front-end usability and back-end ease of use and maintenance in mind. What many companies fail to consider when moving web hosts is how changing the URL syntax can confuse search engines.
Moving web hosts alone should have little or no effect on search engine optimization provided the move is smooth. Moving a small site with less than 1000 web pages is simple. However, moving huge sites with tens of thousands of web pages and multiple servers is more complex.
The most effective ways of dealing with the negative effects of domain transfer on SEO is to make sure you consider search engines, customers, and website operators when moving to a new web host. If you make the domain move while making it easy for search engines to understand the changes made to your site’s hosting and link sources, the search engines will adjust with minimal effects to your site’s SEO.
5. Deal With The Issues Associated With Switching Web Hosts
If you are moving your site to a new domain because of site rebranding or redesign, consider doing this in two phases: move your site first then launch your redesign after the move. This will make the move smoother and will help manage the amount of change that users see at any stage. Keeping the changes to a minimum will make it easier for you to troubleshoot problems.
Check your site’s internal and external links. Consider contacting the webmasters whose sites link to yours and ask them to update their links so that they point to your new site’s location. If this proves impossible, make sure all pages with incoming links are redirected to your new site’s location. To avoid confusion and problems, retain control of your old site’s location for at least 180 days after the domain transfer.
Retain link equity when moving web hosts by implementing a map of old to new URLs along with a system of permanent 301 redirects. If possible, contact top linking URLs from web analytics and ask them to change the URL they are linking to.
Pages that cannot be mapped can be dealt with using custom, user and search engine friendly 404 Error pages. Continue monitoring web analytics after the domain move for broken links and 404 Error pages so they can be fixed.
Moving web hosts is not easy, but these tips on how to switch web hosts will help make a domain move much smoother so that your web reputation does not fall off the truck in the process.