How Not To Lose (Too Many) Visitors When You Move Your Site – Part 3

In this final installment, let’s see a few more things that you can do in order to redirect your current audience to a new site address. All of them are related to your site strategy — you have one, right? If you don’t, it’s time to think about it.

Strategic decisions to prevent loss of visitors

1. Use a paid domain. Unlike webhosting, that would be a yearly expense. So, the impact on your budget would be minimal. Besides, many free webhosts allow the use of paid domains. Therefore, register one right from the start if you’re still going to build your website and you prefer to initially have it hosted for free. If your site is already up and running, buy a domain for it as soon as possible and then just announce the new official address. If you’re about to move your site but still haven’t bought a domain, see if you can delay the move for one or two months. Purchase the domain, announce it and give your visitors some time to bookmark it and get used to it while they gradually forget the old free address. Then you’ll be able to move safely.

In any case, keep in mind that you’ll never go wrong when you register your own domain. This is the very best thing you can do to make sure that you won’t lose any visitors, no matter how many times you move your site or blog.

2. Contact your most faithful visitors. If you’re the type who mostly ignores visitors’ emails and comments, I urge you to change your behaviour — unless you don’t want to succeed as a webmaster. Remember that word of muth still works. So, when you move your blog or site, take the time to contact your most loyal visitors, tell them about the new URL and politely ask them to help you spread the word about it. Don’t forget to offer to return the favour when they need; it’s only fair.

3. Don’t close the old site. I entered the meta-blogging universe via WordPress.com. So, yes, my blog was hosted for free — and still is. Although nowadays I use paid webhosting and domains, I’ve never closed that old blog. I rarely update it, but it’s still there, with all its content, subscribers and backlinks. I knew I could move its content to any of my privately hosted blogs, but I chose to continue from where I were at, instead of starting everything again. When I released my new blogging projects, I used that blog to promote them. And whenever I start a new web project, I do the same. Due to this positive experience, it’s obvious that I recommend you do it too.

Of course it won’t always be possible. If your free webhost closes its doors, or if it changes its rules and you can’t comply to the new policies, you won’t be able to follow my suggestion. But if that’s not the case, I advise you to leverage your current site instead of simply killing it in favour of a newer one.

A final piece of advice: don’t feel miserable if you lose part of your audience after switching to another host. Everyone is subject to it. Moreover, the time wasted in whining would be much better spent in promotion and rebuilding.

Now it’s your turn: tell us if you ever had to move a blog or site to a new webhost and what you’ve done to redirect your visitors to the new URL. The comment form is there for you.

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Karen Zara has been involved in Internet-based projects since 2002. One of them is Abaminds, a blog for content producers that you can visit by clicking here.

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