Issues with changing domain name from .co.uk to .com

Another question on email which is useful to cover for all of the ECR consultants.

What are the implications of moving a domain to a .com version when the site has gained position for a .co.uk.  Does this have a negative affect on the sites position?

If carried out correctly then the move should not have a major impact in the long term.  In relation to the short term there will be a drop in traffic, but this can be reduced by implementing a number of steps to reduce problems.

You need to fully understand the reasons for moving hte domain and is it more beneficial to maintain the .co.uk domain for the UK market and develop a site purely for international presence of the .com, leaving the main domain well alone.

Always encourage the company to retain the .co.uk domain as they will need to put 301 redirects in place to ensure that all pages are sent to the new website.  If there is a major change in URL structures then the key pages gaining search position should be redirected to the corresponding pages within the new site on the new domain   This will reduce 404 errors (page not found) within the website.

Identify using Google Analytics pages that receive both search engine traffic and also referral traffic as this highlights key pages within the website.  If your unsure of how to get this information then look at the ‘Landing Page’ report within the ‘Content’ section of Analytics.   To do this effectively you should also make use of a segment to highlight just pages being accessed for Search traffic as well as referral. If your unsure what this means then check out the Google Analytics help sections for information on the use of ‘Advance Segments’.

These two articles provide useful checklists and help about how to ensure the process goes smoothly  but be aware it have an impact on the website which may take time to recover.

SEOMoz Guide article

SEOLogic – Moving a domain article

Another snippet to think about is that moving to a .com will be a non-targeted domain which will reduce the focus in the UK market – should you then place a geographic target to the UK for the .com domain in Webmasters, which will keep a level of focus to the UK in Google search, but then reduce the worldwide focus.  This needs to be thought about to ensure that the overseas pages are developed quickly to ensure that the directory method (.com/US) can be used to benefit the site.