If you decide to move your site, for whatever reason, you can’t just duplicate the pages from your old site and expect to get the same results. Moving your site without advice and advance planning is likely to drop your site’s numbers so much that it can take years to recover. You’ve spent a lot of time and effort getting your rankings up; it’s worth doing it right when you want to move your site.
The first thing you should do is to clean up your original site. Look at your index first. If you have hundreds of dead links and pages being indexed, or if you have one of the growing numbers of Chinese hacks attached to your site, this is the time to take care of that problem. Take a look at your subdomains. Years ago, having a complicated site map was the sign of a sophisticated web site. Today, Google doesn’t like complex, it likes simple. Cut out links between your main page and blogs and other pages. Look for unnecessary plugins, as well. In general, just clean up your entire directory to make it simple and lean.
Is your site already ranking high? You can always do better. If you’re ranking on page one for twenty different keyword phrases, do some research and find a few more phrases that work with your site and change it around to rank for them, as well. After you move your site, your rankings should immediately go up and then plummet back down. This is just a sign that Google is looking at what it considers new pages. Things should right themselves soon enough.
Make sure to direct each individual page from your old site over to the new one, instead of just the first page. In short, whatever you’re doing right to get those great numbers, do it on the second site even better.
Jim Stewart is a leading expert in search engine optimisation. His business StewArt Media has worked with clients including Mars, M2 and the City of Melbourne.