My Checklist for Switching Domains (When Rebranding is in Order)

In a Hurry? Click Here to Download the PDF Version

Rebranding a blog can feel like a scary thing. Who wants to take the chance of losing everything they’ve worked so hard to build?

Yet, what do you do when you know you’re going in the wrong direction? That is where I was just a few short months ago.

I was literally paralyzed in self-doubt and fear over it. I was truly at a point of no return. Just as a recap, my first blog was CPACareerCoach.com. Since I spent over 8 years as an Executive Recruiter to the Accounting & Finance world, it seemed like the best place to start. What do you do when you outgrow a niche and lose your passion at the same time? That is where I was.

As I mentioned in the 4 Steps to Take When You Lose Your Passion post, I had some tough decisions to make. But as John Wayne said: “Courage is feeling the fear and saddling up anyways.” It was my time to saddle up.

In the second post in this series, I talked about the importance of Choosing the Right Domain Name When Rebranding Your Blog. I offered some advice for how to choose great domain names and why I decided to build a personal brand around JonathanMilligan.com.

My Checklist for Switching Domains & Rebranding

As you can imagine, I immersed myself into the pros and cons of changing a domain name (and rebranding in general). I talked to other successful bloggers who went through the process and received counsel from them. One particular person who offered great advice was Jonathan Mead. Not only does he have a great first name, but he went through a rebrand of Illuminated Mind to the now ever-growing Paid to Exist blog.

While doing a ton of research, I captured everything I was reading into an Evernote folder. From there, I created a checklist to follow. I am sure there is always more steps to add, but this is the checklist I used. By the way, some of this steps came from a great article over on SEOMoz on How to Properly Move Domains.

Download this checklist in PDF form and file it for later! Just click here.

  1. Purchase the new domain name
  2. Email your current subscribers informing them of the new upgrades
  3. Create a buzz on your social media accounts
  4. Write a blog post about the direction your blog is going (here’s mine)
  5. Go ahead and make changes to your blog header logo and color design
  6. Setup the brand new domain and make it live.
  7. Register the new domain with Google Webmaster Tools.
  8. Do a 301 redirect from old domain to new domain.
  9. Submit your old sitemap to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools (force the search engines to crawl your URLs and see that they have changed and help the re-indexing of your blog)
  10. Submit a Change of Address form in Google and Bing Webmaster Tools
  11. Create a new XML sitemap for new domain
  12. Submit the new sitemap in Google and Bing webmaster tools
  13. Look for any errors or updates in Google webmaster in the coming days
  14. Monitor your search engine results in order to be certain new domain is properly indexed.
  15. Go blog your passion!

A few other items to consider

Just be prepared for little hiccups along the way. It is just part of the process. I want to share a few of mine with you.

  • Loss of social proof – you will more than likely lose the social proof (facebook likes, +1’s, twitter counts). I was really concerned about this. If you are getting good search engine traffic, you will recover social proof pretty quickly. My top posts had several likes, +1’s, and retweets in the matter of a few days after making the switch. 
  • Change of email address with email subscribers – I was also told that you have to be careful of switching the email address associated to your email subscriber list. It appears that there is a trust and deliverability factor associated with an email address. Since I was using a gmail address I just stayed with it.
  • Temporary loss of search engine rankings – I heard from a few people to just expect a drop in rankings for awhile until the Google bots figure out the changes. While I still have my fingers crossed, I have yet to see a loss in search engine rankings (proof the above steps work great!)

Final Analysis

I was so beyond ready to rebrand CPACareerCoach to JonathanMilligan.com that I was prepared to accept loss of income and traffic in order to make the switch. Luckily for me, the opposite of what I expected happened. My traffic actually increased! After making the switch, I have gained 10,000-20,000+ readers a week so far and it has yet to fall off (see below).

jmblogmovedata

 

 

Question: Do you need to rebrand your blog? Ask your questions or concerns below in the comments.

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “My Checklist for Switching Domains (When Rebranding is in Order)”

  1. Hey Jonathan, Jeff from 48days. Thanks for giving me the info on rebranding. I’ve got the new domain and transferred the nameservers from godaddy to my host. Is that what you mean by set it up and make it live? I’m ordering the header and logo as soon as I’m sure I know what I’m doing. It’s just been a while since I’ve done the hosting stuff and I’ve never done a 301. Jeff

    1. Jonathan Milligan

      I paid someone to do the actual 301 redirect to make sure it was done right. The above PDF is the specific steps I took. I am relieved that not only did my traffic not go down but it went up. So these steps do work.

      1. By “set it up and make it live” did you mean change the name servers? Also, did you have any problem with internal links not working after the switch? Or did the person you paid handle all of that stuff?

        1. Jonathan Milligan

          I paid an expert to handle all of the technical stuff. Internal links should still work just fine because all of the posts will 301 redirect as well.

          1. Got it. I guess I was a little confused when you gave a checklist but also said you hired somebody. I followed the moz link and some of those people had all kinds of problems. Where did you find your expert?

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