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The Great Domain Name Change Question

  1. Should I do it?

    Up front: This is not a technical question. Everything is purchased, in place and I know how to map from one to another while keeping the old name so as not to lose all those links out there on the web. I would really value people's opinions on whether to do it, particularly from those with experience when it comes to building traffic, SEO, etc.

    Background: My blog is about public speaking. It has been up for almost three years. I have a solid readership that now averages 550 to 650 hits a day.

    The names: The blog is called "Manner of Speaking". I tried to get mannerofspeaking.com but someone is sitting on it. I went with mannerofspeaking.org. That has worked well. However, as the blog grows in popularity and may become the basis for something more substantial, I began wondering about the name. Enter "manner-of-speaking.com". I purchased it and linked it to the blog. Today, I have switched over to the .com address to see what transpires.

    Pros (as I see them): (1) A .com name. (2) By keeping the .org name and mapping it, I will not lose links. (They are working as I write.)

    Cons (as I see them): (1) Possible confusion for some readers, though a quick post can explain. (2) All my social media sharing button counts have been returned to zero; I suspect that this is the inevitable cost of switching.

    Uncertain: Are the hyphens in the new name good, bad or neutral?

    Thanks very much for any insights that you can share. I suspect that several people might be interested in this issue.

    John Zimm

    The blog I need help with is mannerofspeaking.org.

  2. DO IT.

    Do it now.

    If you have a time machine, go back three years and do it then.

    Hyphens are bad. But switching to a custom domain name and then switching to another is about as bad a mistake as you can make online. Stick with what you've got. Also: why are you asking us after the fact? You've already made up your mind.

    Your readers will not be confused: untold dozens are currently trying to reach you at CustomName.com and not finding you. I speak from experience. I was the first person on WordPress.com to get a unique domain name and while I was not happy with the hit my Technorati ranking took, Technorati is a) somewhat irrelevant now and b) sophisticated enough to figure things out quickly and not drop your rank.

  3. @raincoaster - Thank you. I can see that this subject resonates with you! I like a person who puts his heart into things.

    But I have to confess, I am uncertain as to your advice. You start with "Do it. Do it now." which I assume is the answer to my first question. But then you say hyphens are bad and switching is worse and that I should stick with what I've got.

    I still haven't made up my mind. (The switch takes all of 30 seconds to do and I can just as quickly switch back to the .org address and get all my social button counts back.)

    But I do appreciate your taking the time as you are one of the seasoned members around here.

  4. No, you do not understand how it actually works for your readers.

    Every time you switch, your blog disappears for them until the internet "repairs" the connections between where they are and where the blog is hosted. That can be up to 72 hours. So if you switch, then switch again, your blog could be invisible to them for up to a week. This is why you shouldn't do this switching business lightly.

  5. Frankly, I've stopped reading blogs that have been offline for two days. I along with everyone else, just assume they are not coming back. So since you have made the switch, stick with the switch.

  6. Okay, wait. I just re-read your longest paragraph and you're saying you have two different custom domains and the only differences are the hyphens and the .com vs .org?

    You have had the .org for three years?

    Then don't mess around with changing it to a .com at all.

    My mistake: I skimmed, and thought this was about going from Whatever.Wordpress.com to Whatever.com.

  7. @raincoaster - Thanks much for taking the time on this matter. (I've been out at the gym and am just back, hence my silence.)

    The answers to your questions in your latest post are yes (as you surmise). So its clear that you would not make the switch. Thank you.

    FYI - I made the switch before going to the gym to see what would happen. Checking my stats just now, my traffic has been the same or slightly better than what I usually get on a Sunday by this time of the day. I'm not so sure about the blog disappearing for up to 72 hours as you say. As long as you have the two address pointing to the same place, the links do work. And searching various terms on Google still brings my posts up where they were before.

    Anyway, lots to consider. Thanks again.

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