Did you recently change your brand name? Or did you buy a new business? Could it be that your business is experiencing tremendous growth?
These are some of the common reasons for changing business domain names.
Although this is a simple process, it can easily affect your site’s SEO.
Therefore, before rushing into changing your domain name, you should take time to carefully plan your next steps. Your focus should be on preserving the current organic reach of your site at all costs.
In this article, I take you through all you need to know about domain changing and SEO.
Let’s get started!
Does Changing Domain Name Affect SEO?
The simple answer is Yes.
Changing your site’s domain name affects Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is because the search engines are already familiar with your current domain, and have ranked its various pages.
Therefore, any change, no matter how small, rudely disrupts the search engine operations. Think of it, as being caught off-guard.
Also, since your domain has been operational, it already has a specific track record. So, its influence depends on how well established this record is.
The more influence it has on the search engines, the greater the chances of your content being found among the top search results.
That said, you can still change your domain name and continue enjoying the traffic authority of the previous domain. But, first…
What Happens When You Change Domain Name?
As mentioned above, search engines use various domain and page metrics to rank sites. Therefore, when you abruptly switch your domain name, your site metrics are automatically reset to zero.
For example, once you change names, you immediately lose all the link equity you’ve worked hard to grow throughout the lifespan of the old domain.
You will begin noticing a huge drop in organic traffic results. This is the first indication of your domain’s dropping authority.
Also, failing to apply the correct redirects during domain migration, leads to immediate loss of site traffic.
Visitors are likely to be met with a 404 page error, especially after the loss of the live front page. Some of them might not even be able to click on your new site’s domain ever again.
That’s not all. You might also have to deal with content duplication issues, which take a lot of time to clear.
Therefore, if you value your online presence, it’s best to protect your link value at all costs. After all, you have tirelessly worked on it and shouldn’t give it up easily.
Here are some useful and safe steps you can take to minimize the negative effects of domain name changing:
Step #1: Ensure the New Domain URL is Clean
This step only applies when you buy an already used domain. It’s important to check if it’s in proper shape to properly accommodate your content. Think of it as buying an old house, and trying to dig up all its past information to see if anything negative pops up.
The best place to get important details about an old domain is archive.org. Simply paste the domain name in the search bar and click “search.” You will find all the information you need about the type of content previously published on its pages.
You must address any problem you come across before moving forward. It’s best to let a web developer expert help you with technicalities.
Step #2: Migrate to the New Domain
Once you’re sure that your new domain is clean, it’s now time to migrate. This is also the first step if you’re using a new domain. Also, ensure you’re ready to apply the SEO-specific procedures immediately after migrating.
The process is quite technical, and it depends on your hosting provider. If you have no experience, a web developer will come in handy. You can also use an automated domain migration plugin.
If for instance, you’re moving from one host to a different hosting service provider, ensure you export all your files before uploading them to the new site. But it will be much easier if you’re going to continue using the same hosting services.
Step #3: Redirect your Old Domain to your New Domain
This is where you apply the permanent 301 redirects.
As the name suggests, redirects help you drive traffic from the previous domain to the new one.
If correctly done, it helps maintain your domain’s search engine influence/authority.
It’s the gentlest indirect way of informing Google about your content’s new home, giving it ample time to update its ranking.
Ensure each page redirects to its appropriate new location.
So, for instance, if a specific page of your old domain’s URL was www.olddomain.com/fines, it’s best to redirect it to a similar URL such as www.newdomain.com/fines.
If you were using HTTPS in your old domain, use it in the new site as well.
Step #4: Inform Google about the Domain Change
Now that everything is set, and looking good, it’s time to officially let Google know about your site’s new domain.
Use the Google Search Console. Don’t worry about extra expenses, it’s free.
You will have to change your address by verifying your new domain. If you haven’t used it before, check out the Search Console Help Center for instructions.
Step #5: Check if it’s Working Well
Now that you’ve changed your domain, it’s important to test and see if it’s working well.
The easiest way is to type your old domain name into your browser and see if the links lead you to the new domain.
You can also ask a few friends/partners to try accessing it and report any possible errors.
Step #5: Update all your Previous Domain Mentions
The first place to start is your social media pages, business managers, and other business profiles.
Then change your business cards, email signature, and other online domain listings.
Afterward, reach out to your partners and inform them about your new domain.