Domain Name Changes, Vanity URLs and 301 Redirects

EDIT: February 24, 2014. I switched the domain name back to bengillin.com.

Domain Name Change

You may have noticed that my domain name has changed. You may be saying… “Hey what’s up with the .in instead of the .com?” whatever, you probably didn’t even notice. However, if you did notice and you do care about my domain name change, I did it because I geek out about these things. In all honesty I needed a change and it was easier for me to redo the site completely than it was for me to sift through old content and make it pretty. It also just felt right. Besides, I got to use a “vanity url” that I’ve sat on for a while. I may or may not have a matching vanity url shortener as well… we’ll see.

So it’s been an interesting couple of days changing up my personal site amidst client work and sleep. There has been a lot of things I’ve learned that will be valuable for when other people have to change their domain name in the future and have questions.

  • I have written a couple hundred 301 Redirects so that I will decrease the loss in traffic (not that I get monumental traffic anyway).
  • I created an ultra deluxe 404 landing page on my old site. In case visitors do hit a 404 they will know that I now keep my online goodies elsewhere.
  • I have also completely weeded out some old projects that I don’t feel are up to par to display anymore.

Basically, I’ve cleaned digital house this weekend and it feels great. I recommend digital spring cleaning from time to time. Side-note… I deleted 16 domain names last week as well. Yes, I still have domain names in my possession after deleting 16 of them and yes, I am aware that I have a domain name hoarding issue. Thanks.

Vanity URLs

I purchased my vanity url “bengill.in” about 6 months ago. The .in is a TLD or Top Level Domain for the country of India. I also purchased “bgill.in” which I am using as my personal url shortener with bit.ly’s free enterprise service. A great tool to search for a vanity url is domai.nr. Domai.nr allows for you to enter a domain name that you are looking for and it spits out creative alternatives or suggestions on the other side. You can see what domains are available plus, Domai.nr supplies you with multiple registrar links to make your purchase once you’ve found the perfect domain.

A few examples of vanity URLs:

  • JMO.me – John-Michael Oswalt or JMO
  • Ma.tt – Matt Mullenweg
  • Chi.mp – Everything YOU in one place.

301 Redirects

Possibly the most annoying aspect of changing your domain name is the potential loss of traffic. The best way to circumvent the loss of traffic is through SEO (not enough time for this post) and 301 Redirects. Like I mentioned earlier, I have set up a couple hundred 301 redirects to send traffic from my old site to this new one. If you are using WordPress like I am, there is a great plug-in to aid you in this endeavor, Redirection.

Redirection allows you to do the following:

  • 404 error monitoring – captures a log of 404 errors and allows you to easily map these to 301 redirects
  • Custom ‘pass-through’ redirections allowing you to pass a URL through to another page, file, or website.
  • Full logs for all redirected URLs
  • All URLs can be redirected, not just ones that don’t exist
  • Redirection methods – redirect based upon login status, redirect to random pages, redirect based upon the referer!
  • Automatically add a 301 redirection when a post’s URL changes
  • Manually add 301, 302, and 307 redirections for a WordPress post, or for any other file
  • Full regular expression support
  • Apache .htaccess is not required – works entirely inside WordPress
  • Redirect index.php, index.html, and index.htm access
  • Redirection statistics telling you how many times a redirection has occurred, when it last happened, who tried to do it, and where they found your URL
  • Fully localized

Maybe this will help somebody out. If you have any questions please feel free to ask away.

 

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