As many of you know Atilus is new. We are not a new company, but we do have a new name. We decided, after much internal debate, to change our name to Atilus. Beginning the process a number of months before the actual changeover we understood that transferring our website’s built-up search engine reputation was yet another hurdle we would have to over come.
I have decided to author this post as a quick window into the process of the transfer, but more importantly to highlight the results – so that other companies thinking of making a name or domain change can prepare themselves (implementing proper techniques for sucess), but also know that there will be some lag-time between new site, new domain, and your old typical results.
Begin the change over process manually. If you have frequent visitors or a stable audience introduce the idea and what will be happening long before the actual change. As many of you know we physically asked our clients what they thought of our new name and domain. We also wrote about what would be happening in posts and newsletters. It may take time, but to ease the change and minimize potential client or visitor fall off it is essential! Additionally, you can also write pre and post-launch press releases. Once disseminated across a valuable PR service, not only will this help you rank better (because of links-in to your site) in the future, but it will also provide valuable incite for visitors or customers that may have not heard about the changeover. For example if you search for our old name “Unique ID Web Design” the following appears:
Immediately, before anyone even visits the site they can see in the listings that we used to be called Unique ID, but our new name is Atilus.
Technically speaking, if you are considering switching your domain name or URL I highly recommend learning more about 301 redirects. By properly implementing this technique you will essentially be letting your audience (and search engines) know about your move. Finally setup your new domain in webmaster tools and install any analytics. Register it before launch, and begin watching the traffic right away so you will be able to immediately track the success of the change and be able to measure performance drops.
And you will probably see some performance drops.
We switched over our domain on February 1st, 2008. So since then we have been able to collect two months of data. A significant portion of our traffic comes from search engines. In monitoring the search engine rankings of the terms that most often bring visitors our old site as well as Atilus.com was absent for a little bit and has fluctuated greatly since the change. But, overall, our total traffic seems to have reason thanks in part to more blogging both before and after the change-over.
In conclusion, plan ahead and the effects of a domain change-over will be minimal, but always prepare for the worst!