Monday, April 12, 2010

A Review of the Domain Transition

Towards the latter part of last year, I wrote few articles discussing about Blogger custom domains, some factors one need to consider when moving to a custom domain and also a checklist of things to do when moving to a custom domain.

These articles were the result of some learning I went through myself to evaluate the pros and cons of moving to a custom domain. In fact, I was convinced of the value of an independent domain, but was afraid of loosing traffic and most importantly the Google PageRank (PR) earned by the blogspot domain! As stated in the Moving to a Custom Domain article, a Google employee had confirmed that the PR values will be transferred within a couple of weeks, so after all, it was not very difficult to make the decision to go ahead with the domain transition, which was fully affected in January this year.

The transition was not really difficult. I had no issues with my AdSense account as it is not setup to limit the ad publishing URLs. My subscriber feed (via FeedBurner) also worked without a problem as it was named after the logical name of this blog (i.e. The Blogger Guide) and not the blogspot URL. The two visitor meters, namely Google Analytics and SiteMeter also did not require any changes as they are linked up using unique IDs, which do not depend on the domain name.

I did not see any drop in visitor counts after the transition. However, it took a considerable amount of time to recover my Alexa rank and also for the green PageRank bar to appear in places such as the Google Toolbar.

At the time of transition, my Alexa rank was somewhere around 230,000. Immediately after the transition, I had to resubmit the new domain as there is no way in Alexa to transfer the ranks from one domain to another. However, the rank for the new domain ( quickly improved from several millions to something below 400,000 in a couple of weeks. And now, after about three months, it has reached the level it was at the time of the change.

The Google PageRank (of 4/10) which I had at the time of transition re-appeared on the toolbar only this week, a good three months later. I think the reason for the delay is this. There are two types of page ranks; one is a static value displayed in place such as the Google Toolbar, which Google updates from time to time. The other is a very dynamic value, which is calculated continuously and used to rank search results internally. So I think what gets restored in a couple of weeks of a domain transition are these internal PR values and not the externally displayed ones. It seems that even for transferred domains, the published PR values will only get restored in the periodic updates.

Finally, I can say that the decision to move to a custom domain did work! After a lapse of about 3 months, the blog has restored its rankings in addition to the pluses of the new independent domain.