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I want to change a website's domain name and while looking up best practices, the resources I read assume I'm moving the website to a new server or hosting, without going in to why.

They basically propose moving the website to a new host, pointing the new domain name to the new host, and then setting up 301 redirects on the old host/domain/website.

Is there a reason why I shouldn't point the new domain to the original website/host and point the old domain to a different(empty) hosting environment that has the 301 redirects setup.

I understand there could be a period of time where the domains are both pointing to the same host or are unreachable. But a bit of downtime isn't an issue is this case.

Or maybe I have missed another option?

  • If you just want to move domain and not hosting then you can do that and then you can change DNS to connect old hosting with new domain. – Helping Hands Feb 11 '15 at 6:10
  • @HelpingHands but without 301 redirecting the old domain google won't recognise it as the same website being moved will it? – iamlolz Feb 11 '15 at 6:17
  • 301 redirection require if you are changing domain. – Helping Hands Feb 11 '15 at 6:17
  • @HelpingHands so point both domains to the same host and setup 301-redirects on the host to point old-domain to new-domain? It's my first time setting up 301-redirects so I didn't consider that you can redirect one domain to another on the same host. – iamlolz Feb 11 '15 at 6:19
  • If you are worrying about SEO then google see your domain where you redirect , it do not consider old domain. so if you redirect user from "mydomain.com" TO "mynewdomain.com" then google consider "mynewdomain.com". – Helping Hands Feb 11 '15 at 6:22
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This sounds more complicated than needed. Just get your domainB and make that an alias (CNAME) of your current domain, your whole site will now be reachable without any extra work (and no downtime at all).

At this point both work, which you dont want to like thís. The moment it works, set you canonical to the domainB, and build the 301-header in your .htaccess (this is important SEO wise! This way you pass most of the SEO value to your new domain). Also, don't forget your Google Analytics, you need to inform them of domainchanges (there's plenty of documentation about this).

After some time you can change your DNS, make domainB the A-record and make domainA the alias. This also involves no downtime, the outside world won't notice a thing.

When that's done and you've waited a fair amount of time, you can remove domainA from your DNS, completing the move.

Please note: It does not harm you if you have two domains, as long as your canonical and 301-headers and all settings keep pointing to domainB, don't let them mark you as duplicate (which, if it happens, is fixable). I suggest you keep domainA active as alias for as long as the domainname is live. Some users might've bookmarked the old url, give them time to update :)

  • 1
    Sorry for the delay getting back to you, thank you for making sense of this for me mate, much appreciated. – iamlolz Feb 17 '15 at 1:15

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