We are considering changing our company name but do not want to lose our natural search ranking in Google. Is there is sytem by which we can transfer rank or a step by step process that we can go through so as to make for the smoothest domain name change without losing eveything the existing site has acheived?
The answer depends on whether you want to talk about short term or long term. In the short term, there’s no question that changing your domain name will adversely affect your PageRank at Google. Even if you just look at the most simplistic view of the Google algorithm you know that your rank for a given search is essentially a popularity vote by others linking to your site. Change your domain name, and all those links vanish.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to mitigate this effect, not the least of which is to ensure that you have a proper 301 redirect on your old domain so that the search engines can immediately see that you’ve changed, not that you’re duplicating content or trying to pull a fast one.
Secondly, you can do some research on Google to ascertain which sites point to you and email them asking for their links to be updated to the new domain name. You can ascertain this by searching with the link: operator. For example, if I wanted to see who linked to AskDaveTaylor.com, I’d use this: link:www.askdavetaylor.com. There’s a splendid reference on these operators at Google too, one well worth reading: Google Advanced Search Operators.
Finally, if you have quality content on your site and are following best practices for adding new material with some regularity, you can rest assured that in the long run your new site will pop right into the search engine and continue its climb up the rankings to help your customers find you.
Oh, and I bet you’d find my book Growing Your Business with Google excellent reading too. It’ll unquestionably help you learn even more ways to improve your search ranking, among many other things.