What is a website’s “online footprint?” While your website doesn’t have feet, it truly leaves an imprint on the Internet. Your website’s online footprint is everything relating to those letters following the infamous “www”. This encompasses everything: your domain name (whether current or old), website’s content,

along with everything that was indexed over time for that site. The longer your website is online, the stronger and deeper an imprint your online footprint will become.

Changing domain names: what you may face.

Changing domain names and keeping things fresh can sound like a great idea, after all, the web is always changing and growing, right? Well, yes and no. If you look at well established companies (Target.com, Yahoo.com, Google.com, NYTimes.com), you’ll notice that while their interfaces, content, and styling varies year to year, their website address does not. This is for good reason. It’s time consuming in terms of waiting for search engines to come around, recognizing your new domain name.

Being realistic, you may not have a choice in changing domain names, however, the following principles still apply.

Have you ever played with a memory foam mattress or pillow? What happens when you push down? A dent is made, and after you let go it slowly returns to its original shape/surface. Now what happens when you push down on that mattress for a year or more? A very large and significant dent will be created. The foam starts to keep “memory” of the dent you made. Now imagine removing your hand from the dent, and starting to push ever so lightly next to the year old dent. You end up having a similarly shaped dent, however, it’s nothing compared to the dent you created over a years time. Eventually that original dent will disappear and your new one will continue to grow in strength, but it takes time. This is the issue you face between your old website, its online footprint, and the affect it has your new website.

Going forward with a new domain name: What can you do to help stomp out that original memory dent/footprint? Here’s a few tips:

1. If you own and control your prior domain name, you can create what’s called a 301 Redirect, automatically pushing anyone and any search engine bot over to your new website. It’s okay if you cannot do this. (We can help you with this or explain what this means if it applies to you)

2. If you submitted the prior domain name to Google, Bing, and Yahoo yourself (Website Submission), you can submit a “Website Address Change” to all. It’s okay if you cannot do this as well. (We can help you with this or explain what this means if it applies to you)

3. Fighting your old online footprint will take time. Understand that and realize that without any fresh content on your new website, it will take even longer for the search engines to rectify.

4. It’s best to take advantage of our free news section (blog) we offer with every website package whereas you need to blog or release news posts on your new website targeting the keywords that you want to be found online with. You’re essentially reestablishing yourself on the Internet. This will help bring a new refreshing wave of search engine indexing showing your new site as more credible and relevant to search engines. Anything business related can be written about. For example, are you a baker? Write a blog post about each pie or cake you bake – targeting specific keywords that relate to this topic. Are you in finance? Where do you see the market turning? What products and services do you offer and you can expand on? In real estate? Talk about your new listing, post about specific communities that you represent, etc etc. View our “Cliff Notes” version to Blogging and how it relates to Search Engines.

5. Clean up the cob webs – you need to fix every link from third party sites that carry your old domain name and update it to your new domain name. This is crucial. We can do this for you (all current clients can purchase this service through our Client Store). Do a search online for your business name and you’ll see all sorts of websites pop up (such as Yellow Pages, Manta, etc.). All these business profiles must be updated correctly with your new domain name.

6. Be patient. The online world doesn’t move as fast as a phone call or text message. (Remember the memory foam, it will take time for the new dent to form and the old to release.) Your website’s reputation online takes time to establish. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is never over night.

A final thought…

We live in an information world. New information is constantly stacking up. While I wish I could give you a magic formula to make things change tomorrow, the fact is, it simply takes time and work to reestablish your online footprint on the ever-changing digital world. If you choose to re-brand with a new web domain, the steps above are exactly the path you need to take to establishing your new “footprint” on the web.