If the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) gets its way, businesses may soon get a whole new crop of top-level domain names to choose from. Though they'll probably cost around $100,000 to purchase, the chance to own a user- and search-friendly domain will be a no-brainer for many companies.
Changing URLs once you've established yourself online isn't ideal, but it doesn't mean you need to start from scratch to re-establish your identity. Aside from letting customers know your new online address, here are a few other important steps to take.
Once you've made the necessary DNS changes, your next concern will be search engine optimization (SEO). If you've spent 8 years branding yourself as the top widget vendor in North America, you don't to see all that great Google juice go to waste. Since Google subjects new sites to an aging delay, some SEO experts recommend making sure any old Web site pages return a 301 "temporarily moved" redirect page until you're back in GOOG's good graces. Google itself, however, recommends using a 302 redirect page so the Googlebot can "much more quickly learn about the new domain than it might otherwise."
Next, you'll need reclaim your links. Online content at other Web sites that point to your old domain name and URL won't drive any traffic to your new site. Contact the owners of any Web sites that link to your company and let them know you've got a new address. Most site owners will be happy to change their outbound links for you. If that's not possible, consider using a link checker like Xenu, to at least make sure you don't have any links to your own Web site content that point to old pages.
Once your new site goes live, use Google Webmaster Tools to watch for errors on your site that could potentially interfere with the way Google re-ranks your site.
To see how one company implemented and coped with a domain name change, be sure to check out the posts at the TKG SEO Blog, which documents the process right from the start.