Should we move domain?

I manage the website for a small charity. The charity has some great search engine results and has been running for over 10 years on it’s current charityName.com domain name.

We’re currently undertaking it’s first major redesign since it was built (it is prehistoric!) and as part of that I’d like to move the site to charityName.org.uk domain name.

This is so that people can see it’s clearly a charity rather then a commercial organisation and they can see it’s UK centric.

In about 3-6 months we’ll launch the new website with a new file structure etc (I understand it’s not good form to update domain name and file structure at the same time, hence changing the name now)

Now if we’re ever going to move the domain name then I think now is the time. But I am terrified about losing the rankings we have right now. I would of course use 301 redirects and contact as many people who link to the site and get them to amend their links but I’m interested to get any tips or suggestions on other issues to consider.

Is there much chance of an adverse effect on our rankings?

I’d be asking myself just how many people are going to notice the domain extension when visiting this site. Technical people like yourself may notice, but I wonder at the number of “ordinary” folk who would.

I just wouldn’t bother moving to a new domain.

Any loss in rankings due to the 301 would probably be temporary. If your redesign involves a change to the content on each page, then rankings for the updated pages may change.

Thanks for your replies.

Currently anyone visiting charityName.org.uk is forwarded to charityName.com using a 301 redirect.

For now we’d just switch that around so that everyone visiting charityName.com is 301’d to charityName.org.uk

I’d be much happier using the .org.uk so that we have things correct and in place for the new website launch 6 months down the line. I know that most people won’t notice the domain name but at the same time some will and if looking for the charity might skip the listing. So if we can make the transition without much hiccup then I’d prefer to go for it. All content will for now be the same it’s just a domain change.

I’ve changed domains a couple of times before but it’s still a rare enough occasion (and a while since I’ve done it with a large site) that I’m pretty nervous.

Has anyone lost rankings down to a domain change?

And importantly if we have 1000 links in and only 100 of them update the URL to the new one will the PR still transfer via the 301 in the longer term?

The 301 should transfer the PR, all being well.

There’s no harm in registering both domains, and simply having one as an alias for the other - as long as your redirects are set up so that all permutations resolve to the same URL, you won’t have any issues with duplicate content. The only downside is that you’re paying more, but even then it’s not going to be expensive.