When I first launched LifeLines Publishing, the only domain name available for my website was lifelinespublishing.net. So I bought it and started creating content. About two years later, lifelinespublishing.com became available, so I bought that and set things up so that it would redirect to the .net site I had been building. I also bought .org and .info and redirected them as well.
But there is no escaping the fact that .com is the most popular extension, the default that people assume is your web address. So I started investigating what would be involved in making lifelinespublishing.com my actual site and having my other domains redirect to that.
Well, I posed that question to my web host, and the first answer they gave me revealed that they did not understand what I was asking. So I rephrased the question and resubmitted it.
I thought they would post an answer, and then I could evaluate whether I wanted to go through the work such a transition might require. Instead, they went ahead and did it! (I realized this the next morning when I went to my website and none of the images loaded.) So I spent several hours of my weekend completing the transition. Here are some things I learned:
1. Not everything will redirect.
Yes, if you type in lifelinespublishing.net, you will automatically arrive at lifelinespublishing.com. But if you have bookmarked lifelinespublishing.net/business-stories/ —a page within my site—that won’t automatically redirect to lifelinespublishing.com/business-stories/. You have to set up 301s for those. (Google will walk you through that, but it takes some time. And I’m still not sure I did it right!)
2. There are plugins to help with the transition.
You don’t realize how many links are in a website until you have to change all of them! Every post has internal links to other posts. Every image is stored at a particular link. Every category, tag, comment, and widget involves links. I used a plugin called Search & Replace to update all these links. That saved me days of work.
3. Google doesn’t like change.
One of the things you do when you set up a new website is let Google know. When I changed my domain, Google considered that a new site, so I had to follow their instructions to let the Googlebot know where my new site is. Not a huge deal. Just one of those details you don’t think of. So it was nice of Google to send me an email with instructions.
4. Don’t forget about email.
You’ll want to make sure your business email matches your web domain. I had to set up a new email@example.com email, and I had to replace all email references throughout my site.
5. Don’t forget about your subscription service.
I use FeedBlitz to deliver my blog to subscribers each week. I had to let them know about the change, and I had to update the code in my subscription form in the sidebar.
6. Offline needs updating too.
I don’t use a lot of printed collateral, but now that my online transition is complete, I’ll print new business cards with my new .com information.
If you are considering changing your website’s domain name, it’s fairly easy to do—but be aware of the additional fallout you’ll want to address, and give yourself plenty of time to take care of those issues.
And if you run into any issues while you’re clicking around LifeLines.com, please let me know so I can fix them!