Another Question on Domain Changes

So this topic really has been like beating down on a dead horse; but in the interest of due diligence, I have to bring it up once again.

Our organization has been using a domain for nearly 14 years (since 1997). We have found that users have a problem with typing the domain name and regularly type it incorrectly, whether it’s misspelling due to Europeans spelling the domain different than Americans, or just accidentally typing the letters in the wrong order since there are a number of t’s and i’s in the name.

We have recently acquired a 3 letter domain (our business acronym which matches the brand that we have been marketing under for years both domestically and internationally). I understand that I should use GWMT for part of the transition, start a 301 redirect to point search engines and backlinks to the right site and update the search engines again with the new domains sitemap.

Here are my concerns:

  1. We will lose search engine traffic. Currently, Google brings us 42% of our traffic.
  2. We will lose page rank causing our competitors to jump our many number 1 rankings in Google.
  3. The loss of our age to a new domain will affect our PR credibility for a long term.
  4. We have thousands of backlinks that are pointing to our long domain name. These will be forgotten or not considered the same by the crawlers even with a 301 in place.

What are your recommendations? I understand there may be a bit of a transition time in our page ranks, but is there any other steps we can take to minimize the effect?

Thanks.

How do you know this? How many visitors do you think you are losing?

I’d avoid changing the domain name if it was possible.

We are a membership based organization and we have had substantial feedback on the issue. Our internal employees, that access the site multiple times daily, also experience the typo issue. As far as statistics go, we don’t really have a means to measure the issue directly, of course.

The issue exists in emails as well. Currently the domain is 14 characters in length plus the www. and .org

You would think the people coming back to the site time after time would bookmark the site, especially if they’re having trouble typing it in.

As for the emails, aren’t you linking directly to the site? Why would they need to type the URL in?

Why not create dummy URLs on the 3 letter domain that get redirected to the “real” site? The 3 letter domain URLs will be easy to remember and type in and take the visitor to the 14 letter domain where the content is. Then there is no impact on the search engines.

I would think so too; however, since we are an annual membership organization, members typically only visit the site 4-5 times per year so they are most likely choosing not to bookmark it. Another issue is we are commonly referred to by word of mouth, it’s important that these new people find us.The issue with emails is separate, but it all wraps back around to our branding issue. We are known as the acronym, but we’ve had to spell it out in the past as the acronym was either too expensive or unavailable.

The goal would be to maintain our brand in the domain. We would want our site to run under the same domain that our emails route through (again for branding). If we’re changing our emails from a 14 character domain to a 3 character domain, it will help us with traditional sales and marketing.

Of course we can redirect the acronym, but we’re attempting to avoid that for the aforementioned reasons (primarily, consistent branding). Either way we go, we’ll be 301 redirecting the domain that is not our primary.

My understanding is that domain age isn’t near as important as it once was as the PR is determined by coding and content. If this is the case, then the only issue we have is the backlinks. Is the PR that is generated from those backlinks not carried over by the search engines when a 301 redirect is in place?

I’ll second Hooperman’s suggestion - buy as many aliases and common misspellings as you can afford. For example, if you type in googel.com, you’ll find that The Big G has bought that domain as well, and it just redirects you to the right one. That’s the best strategy for keeping all your rankings and reputation, but also allowing people who can’t spell to find your site too :smiley:

actually, you should not change the domain name. you may order 3 more domain name and make redirect to the old one. in my point of view, it still be sure you don’t lost traffic in the old main but get more traffic from people who type wrong your domain name.

I understand that it’s not recommended to change the domain name, but the original reason for my post wasn’t to ask whether I should, it was to ask about the effects of doing so.

The other option I have is running the new domain under the same virtualhost as an alias to the old domain. So both domains load the same site. This would make it difficult to measure statistics, but would allow us to maintain rankings of the old one while building age on the new one. Also, it would allow the URLs to stay the same for when I choose to implement the 301.

Ultimately, I have been instructed by ranks well above my position that the domain name must be changed. My goal is to minimize the impact.

Thanks again for your help.

StevieD - This is a good idea, but with a 14 character domain, it allows for a lot of misspelling. Since we’re a nonprofit organization, this just isn’t affordable for us right now.