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Moving to a New Domain Name

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By far the .com domain name extension is the most popular. It was the first one way back in the early 90s and everyone fought over them.

Today (that's in 2011, for those reading this in the distant future) it seems like there are new dot extensions every few weeks. The .co extension is newly available and now you can even register a .asia extension, if you really wanted.

Many of our jewelry stores have difficulty acquiring the domain name that perfectly matches their store. But some stores find that another store with the same name already has the .com. In these cases, we always recommend selecting the .net or the .biz options.

Just the other day there was a discussion in our office about the validity of the .co domain extension. However, the point was brought up that human muscle (typing) memory would probably kick in and cause a huge confusion between the .co and .com names. [Editor's note: In fact, each of the 3 times in this Nugget that I tried to type dot-c-o I actually typed dot-c-o-m and had to backspace!]

What should you do if, after registering a .biz or .net, you finally acquire the .com extension years later? You've probably already spent years working on your SEO and Link Building, right? All those links from Twitter and Facebook would be zapped dead if you just switched the domain name over.

Here's what you would do to move from one domain to another:

1. Log into Google Webmaster Tools and tell them that you are switching domain names.

2. Point your DNS settings for jewelrystore.com to your current jewelrystore.biz. This is NOT a domain redirect, you actually want to use the same IP address for both domains. You should ask your hosting company for help on that.

3. Over the course of time (however long this takes) you need to create very specific 301 Redirects from every page of the jewelrystore.biz domain to the jewelrystore.com domain. This is tedious!

4. Change all your advertising, business cards, invoices and stationary to show jewelrystore.com. THROW OUT the old ones. We know you guys rarely go through a box of letterhead or envelopes or 500 business cards. Bite the bullet and reprint them! This goes for your plastic gift cards too.

5. Leave the 301 redirects in place for as long as it takes for Google and Bing (and whoever else might be a credible search engine) to replace the domain name in their indexes. You're going to have to keep checking that on your own.

6. Once the domain name has been phased out of the search, there's one more important final step: NEVER EVER let the domain name expire!

Why would you want to hold on to the domain name forever? Because once you give up ownership of it, anyone else can (and will) purchase it for cybersquatting. Who would want to cybersquat on your domain name? Perhaps the savvy jewelry store owner down the street; is he trying to put you out of business?

Whomever buys your old domain name, one thing is for sure; you won't like it. Cybersquatting is automatic the day after your domain is released. The most common scenario is that a new website is built with tons of jewelry ads, particularly BlueNile.com ads.

The next scenario is that someone puts up a website to defame you. Although we've not seen it in the jewelry industry, we've seen other retail stores that suddenly had "Don't buy from this crook" type websites.

The worst, and most well-known situation is when a domain name is scooped up by a large porn company and replaced with something you really really don't like! The most infamous occurrence of this was with Ask Jeeves in 2006. Don't go looking this up unless you want to be surprised, and are alone. THIS IS NOT SAFE FOR WORK!

There is a large cost involved with moving from a non .com domain to the .com domain, but it's going to be worth it in the long run.

Oh, and one final note, cybersquatting lasts forever. Our founder Matthew Perosi accidentally lost a domain name in 1995 and to this day the same company is still squatting on that lost domain name.
AT: 02/11/2011 01:41:30 PM   LINK TO THIS GOLD NUGGET
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