Perhaps you’ve just rebranded your company and you want to shift your site’s domain name. Maybe it’s just time to make things a bit simpler. It could even be that the domain name you’ve always wanted has finally opened. There are many reasons you might want to change your domain name, but it’s important to remember that ANYTHING you do to your site can affect your SEO ranking. If you’re thinking of making a shift, you may want to keep an eye on any differences to your SEO when changing domain name. These tips can help.
Tip #1: Make Sure It’s the Right Domain Name
Before you make the move, or even purchase the domain name, you’ll want to do a bit of research. First, make certain the domain name you’ve chosen fits your brand well. Far too many companies purchase a domain name only to later realise it just isn’t what they’d hoped. Beyond the simple stuff, though, you actually need to do some research, particularly if you’re buying a domain name that’s up for auction or one from someone else. Visit archive.org to get a sense of what website pages were once displayed at the domain name. If you get results, you’ll want to ensure no spam or low quality content was displayed there. You can also check for any past backlinks to the domain to get a sense of the history there.
If the domain you’re considering isn’t living history, but instead it has live content, add it to the Google Search Console. Once you’ve done that, you can see how it has been indexed by Google and make sure no manual penalty actions are in place against that domain. If it’s been recognised as a spam site or one that has previously engaged in black-hat SEO practices, you can still buy it, but understand that it’s going to take quite a bit of extra work to fix the problem and get your new site launched without a penalty in place.
Tip #2 – Review Current Performance
Before you move your site, the most important thing you can do is review the current performance numbers for your SEO work to date. This will give you a comparison point after your move is made. Get reports from the SEO measuring tool of your choice on how well your domain is currently performing in the search results, how Google currently indexes your site, which pages are coming up with usability problems, and what sites are currently linking to you.
Tip #3 – Create a Sitemap and Backup of Your Domain
The last thing you want is to lose anything in the process of the move. Some of it may be incredibly valuable in terms of SEO concerns. As a result, you’ll want to create a sitemap of your old domain, as well as a complete backup of everything there. You have lots of options as far as tools go to help make this happen, but you’ll likely want to select one that not only allows you to backup your site, but to migrate it as well.
Tip #4 – Redirects Matter!
After you actually make the move, you’ll want to set up redirects from all of your previous pages. While there are many different ways to do this, setting up permanent 301 redirects are the best way to go. Not sure what this has to do with SEO when changing domain name? Google’s John Mueller has repeatedly said this is the only way to handle things when you’re migrating your site. It preserves link equity the old page may have built, and you won’t lose any traffic in the process. A 301 redirect means all visitors will get pushed to the new domain, but it has to happen at the page level, and it has to happen forever. Until the website dies, if you remove those 301s, you’re breaking a connection Google has previously built, and that means real problems with your domain reputation and page quality scores. If forever seems a bit long, you need to keep them in place for at least a year.
Tip #5 – Update Google
The single most important tip on this list is to update Google if you’ve migrated. SEO when changing domain name has to involve this process. You can use the change of address feature on the old Google Search Console to make that happen, but you’ll need to add and verify your new domain before you can do so. You can also submit sitemaps for both the old and the new site to make it happen. That will help to make Google aware of any 301 redirects you’ve put in place and preserve your SEO.
Once your domain change is complete, you’ll want to double check that everything is working well. Get feedback from your followers, and check Google Analytics to ensure you’re seeing the performance numbers you should be. Also, update any mention of y our old domain name to ensure you’re directing people to the right place. Don’t overlook directories in your vertical, social media accounts, and any other spaces where you might be listed.
You may want to consider hiring a professional company to help preserve SEO when changing domain name. To learn more about what Reposition can do, reach out and contact us today.