Entrepreneur Paul Ingraham shared some all too familiar horror stories of changing domain names and the consequences that followed. It’s painful to watch so some of you may want to scroll past the image below:
I’ve gone through this three times just with my own blog which started as domainflipper.typepad.com, then moved to domainvestors.tv, and yes, third time’s a charm and it ended-up on MorganLinton.com. Moving a domain name is part art part science and in the end you’re putting a lot of eggs in one basket when it comes to search traffic.
While domain moves certainly can go very smoothly, it doesn’t take much to screw things up. This is why I always recommend working with an expert (think SEO ninja) who can make sure you do everything right. However, sometimes even doing things right can have consequences:
“During the crisis, I spent several weeks doing very little but studying Google and how it works, and something became absolutely clear: Google is buggy.” (Source – PaulinGraham.org)
Yes, you can do everything right and still things go wrong, that’s the nature of the beast and a topic I don’t see covered very often. Paul really did everything right, in fact, he was so paranoid something would go wrong he truly went above-and-beyond:
“I prepared for weeks. I studied best practices for moving domains, and I heeded them. I am technically savvy and I had full control over every key factor. My move was standard and straightforward. I checked many key ideas with expert friends, and then — in a costly over-abundance of caution — I hired a consultant I didn’t really need just to review everything again. He’d done many domain moves for big clients, sites much more complex than mine, and he checked my work and chided me for worrying.” (Source – PaulinGraham.org)
This really is the best you can do, every base was covered, heck the guy even hired a consultant to help make sure everything went smoothly…and then:
“After all that preparation and procrastination, I finally pushed the button on November 27, 2014. A week later, over the space of a few terrifying days, about 80% of my traffic and income went buh-bye. I was told by my consultant that the dip was unexpectedly steep, but it was no big deal and the traffic would be back soon. But the nightmarish days of the crisis ticked by and it only got worse: 85% loss of traffic … 90% for Christmas.” (Source – PaulinGraham.org)
I wish I could now tell you that this could never happen to you, or me, or any of us, but the fact of the matter is that it could. While it may feel like we have been using the Internet forever, it’s easy to forget that these are still very much the early days. Compare early televisions or early phones to the ones we use today, a little different right?
In these early days simple things do come with small but incredibly painful risks. The best way to mitigate these risks is to do everything that Paul did, just hope that you’re not in the small fraction of people that Paul was in where unfortunately everything is not enough.