If you have to move a website from one domain to another, it will mean that all the links pointing to your old site would now be lost and would generate the dreaded 404 error when visitors came in via old search engine listing or links.

The best way to preserve your links, and have visitors end up on their required page is to setup a redirect from the old domain to the new one.

In this example, we are going to assume that we use to have a domain called OLDSITE.COM and for some reason we have to move everything across to NEWSITE.COM

The first up, don’t kill the hosting for the old site but leave it operating for some time. This will then allow us to redirect visitors from the old site to the new site.

A 301 redirect simply tells search engines that visit your site that the old URL has now permanently changed to another URL. Once the search engines find the 301 redirect they will start to convert all the old links in their index across to the new location.
This will take some time and on site sites, this may take months to have the search engines convert all the old links across to the new locations.

An .htaccess file is nothing more than a simple text file that contains instructions for the web server that run on that hosting account.

On your PC, start a copy of NOTEPAD (This can be achieved by going Start->Accessories->Notepad) and edit your existing .htaccess file or to create a new one. DON’T use Word or any other word processing software to open the file, because these packages have the horrible habit of inserting “funny” characters in file that will cause the .htaccess file to not function properly.

If your new site’s structure is exactly the same as the old site, then simply place the following line in your .htaccess file

Redirect 301 http://www.NEWSITE.COM

Now save the file, and FTP this file up into your websites main account. On most Linux based systems, this is the /public_html/ directory

Now, whenever a visitor (be it a human or a search engine bot) comes to your old domain, they will be redirect to your new site. So if they came looking for a file called stuff.html (old URL would be www.oldsite.com/stuff.html) they would get automatically redirected to www.newsite.com/stuff.html

This is the easiest way to move an entire site from one domain to another…

If the structure of the new site is different from the old one, then we will need to “map” each old URL to its corresponding new location. This also applies if you decide to change the structure of your site, and you want to preserve the links from your old structure and ’map” them to their new location.

If you have a URL that was www.oldsite.com/dogtraining/ and you wanted to redirect visitors to www.newsite.com/info/dog-training.html you would place the following in your .htaccess file.

Redirect 301 /dogtraining/ http://www.newsite.com/info/dog-training.html

The format is:
Redirect 301 old-location new-location

The “old-location” is the path to the old destination (minus the domain name)
The “new-location” is the full path to final destination (it must include the fully qualified domain name as well).

This means that when every a visitor comes in on the old URL (www.oldsite.com/dogtraining/) the web server will redirect them to the new URL of (www.newsite.com/info/dog-training.html)

If you have multiple locations that you want to redirect, then you have to have multiple redirects set up. With one redirect per line. An example might look like this:

Redirect 301 /dogtraining/ http://www.newsite.com/info/dog-training.html
Redirect 301 /policedogtraining/ http://www.newsite.com/info/police-dog-training.html
Redirect 301 /dogtrainingvideos/ http://www.newsite.com/info/dog-training-videos.html

It is time consuming setting up 301 redirect, but if your site had valuable incoming links, then its worth spending the time to preserve those links and keep your website ranking as well as it used to and to keep your site profitable.

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