We’ve all been there. Sometimes when you rebrand, you want to transfer your old domain to a shiney new web address. Many don’t realise though that you should actually ensure you transfer the age, authority and trust your site has in Google to this new web address.
Traditionaly when I move one domain to another, I usually just stick a few 301 instructions in an htaccess and start getting links to the new domain. I’ve always found it pretty painless although I can appreciate it’s easy to screw up if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Now you can actually tell Google about your domain name change in Google Webmaster Tools.
If you’ve moved your site to a new domain, you can use the Change of address tool to tell Google about your new URL. We’ll update our index to reflect your new URL. Changes will stay in effect for 180 days, by which time we’ll have crawled and indexed the pages at your new URL. The change of address tool is safe, because only verified site owners can use it. You can check the tool at any time to see the information provided to Google about your domains.
This new tool from Google will be handy for some, though, you’ll still need to know your way about some technical aspects to use it. See moving your website to another domain.
UPDATE – Also see Google announcing support of the cross-domain rel=”canonical” link element.