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I have moved a site to a different domain name and did a complete overhaul. Link structure has changed because the old one was very bad. That being said, I am doing 301's manually on about 1800 pages. I prioritize what to move first based on SEO Landing Pages report in Google Analytics. Stuff that has most impressions and clicks goes first and some content is clearly bad so I will just 301 to a suitable section of the new site. I am about half way done with my 301's.

Should I wait until I finish all my 301s or can I indicate in Google Webmaster Tools that the domain has moved?

  • Forgive my ignorance, but how do you tell Google that a domain has moved via GWT? – closetnoc Aug 7 '14 at 16:13
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    In your GWT account go to Preferences (Gear Icon on top Left) -> Change of Address – dasickle Aug 7 '14 at 16:25
  • Cool. I will check it out. I learned something new today. Not bad for an old dog. Thanks! – closetnoc Aug 7 '14 at 16:35
  • No problem and good luck! – dasickle Aug 7 '14 at 16:38
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    I know what you mean. Glad to help. By the way if you find comments on this site to be useful you can click the little arrow (top left) right next to the comment:) – dasickle Aug 7 '14 at 17:00
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I'd use the setting right away -- but make sure you have the 301 redirects in place ASAP too (especially for the most important pages). This setting helps us to confirm that you really want to transfer everything (all signals that we've collected over the years) over to the new domain. It just speeds things up a tiny bit, essentially.

In addition to the setting and the 301 redirects, I'd also review the rest of our site-move guidelines.

  • No way!!! John Mueller himself is answering my questions. Just made my day. Thanks – dasickle Aug 13 '14 at 13:16
  • Looks like I can't do the change of address until I 301 the entire site? – dasickle Aug 13 '14 at 13:21
  • @dasickle Ah, yes, we just recently added a check for redirects before using the feature (well, at least for the homepage -- for the whole site we'd have to recrawl everything, which can take a lot of time). It sounds like we should have waited until you had it set :) – John Mueller Aug 27 '14 at 9:01
  • I figured it out. The new site is getting a nice bounce back now. Queries, impressions...everything is going up. Hoping to retain around 80% of old organic traffic. With a lot of poor content out/redirected and a new site structure. Thanks John. – dasickle Aug 27 '14 at 13:26
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If the website is going to take 1 year to transfer to a new domain, then obviously that's potentially 1 year of not having the new site SEO'd. If the website transfer is very quick, then it's an easy choice! I think it's about finding the balance. You mention link structure changing so I guess you may feel you don't have any SEO to save because of the total new structure. I don't think this is accurate because the site as a whole still means something! You are still potentially a resource.

However, if you start copying it over, then you'll duplicate content. Whilst you probably won't be penalised for this, it is not ideal and leads to confusion.

If you start doing 301's for part of the site, you are going to give Google a headache in regards to indexing. Part of the site is on one domain, but this is part of the site is on another. I'm a big believer in not making Google have to work!

If you can, move the website to the new server over a very short amount of time. And then make it live to the public. Then tell Google the entire thing has changed instead of messing about with single pages. So, may be for a little while you will have duplicated content but at least you can make the site 301!

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