A common question that I am often asked by clients is “… we are changing servers, how will this impact our SEO efforts?” This is a great question because anytime you make a major infrastructure change to your website, you run the risk of affecting your existing rankings. The initial response that I usually provide is to plan, prepare, and backup. Plan, plan plan.
While this topic has been discussed time and time again, here are a couple of key points to remember when making changes to your website infrastructure.
1. Consider the type of infrastructure change you want to make – are you just replacing the servers or are you actually switching server platforms? Why are you making the change? Is it imperative that you make this change? Sometimes the status quo may serve (no pun intended) you better.
2. Take your time and plan the migration – consider the impact of what you are proposing. What effect will this have with the search engines and your site visitors? Planning is key to helping prevent a negative impact from happening on your site. When you are finished planning review your plan again. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
3. Redundancy is a must – be sure to backup your old site. This is done so that you can revert back to the original if need be. As well you want to ensure that everything is fine with the new servers before you remove your old site. If you have a static website, just copy the entire file structure over to the new webhost and you should be ok. For blogs or e-commerce sites there may be a little more involved.
4. Change your DNS to point to the new servers - with a new IP address, you’ll want to be sure that 64.x.x.x translates to www.yoursite.com. Time-To-Live (TTL) is an important factor for a site’s DNS. It is important because if someone loads your website in their browser just before you update your DNS settings, and your TTL is one day, then that person’s browser will try to use your old IP address for that day. You’ll want to set it to a shorter time. Normally most TTLs are a day or a few hours or less.
5. Wait for the DNS change to propagate - a function of TTL and whether you’re switching to name servers that are already present in DNS. Propagation commonly takes 72 hours to update servers world-wide.
Once the new site is up and working properly, you can shut down your old site. If you have prepared and planned properly, you should have minimal disruption in your site. Matt Cutts from Google has a great post over on his blog about switching IP’s. Another great resource for information regarding changing servers and minimizing potential organic rankings can be found here. Other resources include:
Search Engine Guide: Changing Servers
Server Issues That Could Impact Search Engine Rankings
Moving a website / Changing between web-hosting service providers
Inside Google Sitemaps: More about changing domain names
Moving Content from an Old Domain to a New Domain
Labels: changing servers, SEO, switching IP