Category Archives: SEO
How to Move Your Website without Losing SEO Rankings: A Records, 301’s and Not Taking BS From Your Designer
Recently in a twitter conversation with @Rocktique and @Own_Your_Future. It was brought to my attention that her website was being transfered between hosts, and that during this time there is a 30 day wait period…in which her site would be offline…WHAT?! This is ludicrous!
As someone who specializes in SEO, and especially knows the importance and sensitivity of domain transfers, hell, the sensitivity when changing your site toward a new structure, file extension per page, and the catastrophe that most people turn this into…I was appalled. Here goes another unmitigated disaster…sigh.
I will explain this in laymens terms, as much as I can.
Firstly, when you have 2 hosts, and you want to move from Host 1 to Host 2 there is this one simple little domain setting known as the “A”record. The “A” record tells the world what IP Address (I.E. 126.96.36.199) your website, or a subdomain of that website is actually hosted/located. Servers don’t care what your website is called. Your browser goes through what is called DNS (Dynamic Naming System) lookup before connecting to a site. The name is purely cosmetic.
So, why is the “A” record important? Because you can have 2 websites setup at the same time with the SAME domain name but on different servers…where a user lands is pretty much up to what the “A” record points to.
In fact, you can spoof your real website with another locally by changing whats known as your HOSTS file (in windows: c:/windows/system32/drivers/etc/hosts) by just typing in the domain name, a space, and the IP Address. (I.E: “188.8.131.52 google.com”).
Right, so waiting period…what waiting period? If both of your hosts are active, new and old, you can work on both without any interruption.
You 3 different choices when it comes to moving your site over.
- Change DNS Naming Servers from Host 1 to Host 2.
- Change Domain Registrar
- Change the A Records on Host 1.
- Use a 3rd Party as your DNS and change the A Records.
No matter what you do, settings should be preserved, and as soon as they switch, you will just see the new website instead of the old one. The only time something could go wrong is when you change DNS Naming Servers from one to the other and haven’t prepared the DNS entries on the new server, they should be exactly the same as before, or should reflect the IP Address of the new site. Also, when switching domain registrar, make sure that you check off that current DNS Settings should remain the same, that way everything will move smoothly, otherwise you will have a couple hours downtime as the world servers propagate your new IP Address and DNS Settings.
Ok so the point all this is, there is no reason your website should go down for 30 days unless you had a catastrophic loss of data, of which you would then be making a new website.
Regarding 301’s, if you are making a new site with a new structure, and not using 301’s, you are hurting your rankings. I will save that for another blog!!