I run a couple of websites for non-profits (like this one), and naturally we like to keep the costs low. Last year, we bought a domain name from GoDaddy for $0.99, but now it's time to renew - for $17. This isn't something that is going to break the bank, but it's 17x more expensive to own this domain this year compared to last. And since our "brand" isn't tied to the domain name, can't we just buy another one very similar to this one for a buck and permanently redirect the old one to it? Will we lose visitors in the process?
So take this user group website for example. CIACFUG stands for the Central Illinois Area ColdFusion User Group, which is where we get the cumbersome CIACFUG acronym, and corresponding CIACFUG.org for $1. This year, it will be closer to $20. Similarly, the Central Illinois Area Fellowship of Christian Athletes site gives us the oddball CIAFCAE.club website, which we are not tied to and which expires next month. Rather than renew it, I bought CIA-FCAE.club for a dollar, and performed a permanent redirect from the old to the new. Here's how using IIS on Windows.
Set up your new IIS website and DNS (which this article supposes you know how to do) with a fresh version of your web assets. Next, click on your old website - the one that contains the expiring domain, and then double-click on the HTTP Redirect Icon. If you do not see this icon below in your IIS settings, click here for installation/configuration instructions for the httpRedirect from Microsoft.
Once you click on HTTP Redirect, simply send all requests to the new domain. Tell browsers that this is a permanent redirect by setting up a status code of 301. There are a couple of interesting redirect behaviors, including redirecting all requests to exact destination, and whether or not you want to include sub-folders.
So, a permanent redirect over the course of about three weeks will be plenty of time for Google to update its search engine, and visitors will likely be able to do the same with enough time and communication.
I know what some of y'all are thinking - "This guy is so cheap he'd rather play around with server configurations than just renew a domain to save a buck." And the answer to that is a wholehearted "Yes!". While some may think the above process takes more effort than it is worth, it took me about 30 minutes to buy the domain, set up IIS/DNS, and perform the redirect. Plus I got to work with some technology settings I haven't touched in awhile, and that is something I don't take for granted.