I've been in the process of packing up to move for the last few weeks. Personally I hate moving I've done it so many times and it's rarely, if ever, an easy exercise. This got me thinking. Moving home and moving a website are both equally difficult or cumbersome at best.
Depending on the move you plan, you may have to pack everything up and transport it to a new location. When moving home you need to make sure that all your furniture and other valuables are safely stored for easy transport. When moving a site you'd need to make sure that you've backed up your site correctly (with a second backup just in case) so that you can easily load it to a new server.
Then there's the unpacking stage. Is your new home big enough for all your furniture? Will you struggle to fit all of your furniture into the rooms? Are there more rooms that will allow growth - if that is your desired plan? In much the same way, assuming that you don't simply have flat static HTML files, does your new host support the language that your site has been written in? Do you have any server specific scripts that will need additional server support, or would you have to rewrite a few scripts (mail scripts tend to be the bane of my life on this one).
Usually when moving location specific information about you will change. Details such as your mailing address, home phone number and actual physical address will change. When moving a website this also holds true. While many details will remain the same, do you plan to update the website? Possibly change URL structure? Or even the programming language of your website? If so this will leave the older pages lost in cyber space. If your domain name has changed, and you still own the old domain name, redirect traffic to the relevant page on your new site. If you've kept the old domain but have decided to change the URL structure, redirect the old pages to the relevant new one - in much the same way that you would do for your snail-mail postage.
As you would (and should) let authorities, banks and others that need to be able to find you by updating your personal info, let the search bots find your new pages and domain by alerting them to the move. This will speed up an re-indexing that will need to take place as well as preserve any link strength that you may have earned so far.
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