How to move your site to a new domain without losing your ranking
Migrating a website to a new domain is a scary affair for companies!
No wonder it is not as easy as changing your home address. Although a domain name in the URL is just like your house name or number in the address, the impact of changing a domain is only sometimes comparable to changing your house name or number. It is because redirecting your website audience and prospects to the new domain is more complex than putting an ‘Address Change’ notice on your old house to get your letters, deliveries, and guests to the new place. However, it is not a disaster, as many thinks.
There is a misbelief that moving the website to a new domain can permanently damage your ranking harvested in the past. And many companies and individuals restrain from thinking about the SEO efforts needed to get those rankings back to the pre-move level. But sometimes, you must do something other than sidestep domain change, especially when it brings many benefits.
If you have proper planning and guidance from an online marketing company, domain change won’t always be disgusting, and it can be performed without losing your SEO scores.
Here we have some tips and advice for you to ensure a smooth transition of your website from an old domain to a new one without much hassle. If you need any assistance with the domain change, you can avail of our Professional SEO service at any time.
Now let’s find out how we can relocate your website to a new domain without impacting ranking.
We are going to discuss the following:
- Reasons for moving to a new domain
- Let google know the change
- Things to know before moving to a new domain
- Steps to follow
1.Reasons for moving to a new domain
Your website’s domain name is the central part of the URL that belongs to you. It represents your brand in the online world. So, we carefully choose it. However, website owners sometimes want to change it for various reasons. Though it is a tough decision, it can be beneficial too.
Let’s check some reasons for moving your website to a new domain.
An appropriate domain name is on the way: When a suitable domain name that is more relatable to your brand is available, you consider a domain change.
The name of your business has changed: Renaming your business again pushes you to reconsider your domain name. It is necessary to maintain brand consistency, and a domain that reflects your brand name will add more value to your website.
Planning a consolidation of domains: If you are holding many websites with similar content, consider consolidating those sites into one domain at some point.
A failed domain: Last but not least, you may be disappointed with your domain name. If you are tired of your website’s domain, you can change it.
2.Let Google know the change
Moving to a new domain doesn’t cause long-lasting adverse SEO effects, and it is because search engines like Google identify the change. However, we must tell Google we have moved or changed the domain name. Google Search Console (GSC) will help you here. First, you must verify the old and new domains in GSC with the same account. Using GSC, we can inform Google that we changed the website’s domain name.
Then, using 301 redirects, redirect all pages in the old domain to the new domain. 301-redirects automatically redirect your website visitors and Google to the new domain. Matts Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, suggests that redirecting external and internal links using 301-redirects is a good idea.
When you move the website to the new domain, get the search engine to crawl and index the new domain. This process will happen gradually; Google takes time to trust a new domain. But once it realizes domain change, it will naturally transfer all trust metrics from the old to the new domain.
3.Things to know before moving to a new domain
Now you have decided to move your website to a new domain, what’s next? There are some points you should be aware of. First, you will experience a temporary drop in ranking immediately after the domain change since the search engines need to accept the change. A decrease in ranking will reflect on website traffic too. Following the domain change, your website may receive fewer audiences than before.
But don’t worry, it’s very typical, and no website could bypass that situation during a domain change. The most comforting thing is that if done carefully and correctly, it won’t cause permanent damage to your website’s search engine rankings and traffic. That means within 3-6 months (approximately), you will be able to regain your lost rankings and traffic.
You can seek help from an SEO agency to deal with it, and they can assure you the rankings rebound to the level before the domain change within a few months. We also have fantastic SEO packages to cater to your needs.
Moving your website to a new domain requires tremendous patience. Please don’t jump into quick decisions, and do it slowly. If you or your company have a busy schedule, consider postponing the domain change because every stage in domain change requires a couple of weeks, and sometimes it takes months.
4.Moving website to a new domain – Steps to follow
- Back up your website
- Clean your new domain
- Move the website and content to the new domain
- Redirect old pages
- Finishing touches
Setting up an action plan is the first step toward moving to a new domain for your website. You can seek an SEO consultant’s service if you need to learn how to set up an action plan, and they will prepare a stage-by-stage action plan for you. Before moving to a new domain, review your content, site structure, files, etc. Make sure you are moving only the relevant content to the new domain. Outdated, underperforming content will only help you a little. So, clean up your website content before moving to a new domain. If you plan a structural change to the website, prepare for it.
Back up your website
Backing up your website entirely before moving to a new domain will save you from unfortunate situations. Getting into trouble once the domain-changing process start is frightful; however, realizing that you didn’t back up the site entirely or the backup is corrupted is dreadful. Therefore, ensure you back up all files and data before making significant changes. You can either manually backup your files using FTP client, Adminer, or Filezilla or can use tools provided by web hosting providers and plugins.
Clean new domain
Check if your new domain is expired or previously registered. If it is, we have to ensure there are no issues with it, such as old penalties, unnatural links, etc. We can check this with Google Webmaster Tools. Claim the new domain there and check the Manual Actions Page; if anything is wrong, it will be shown there. You can move the website to the new domain if there is no manual action. Sometimes there will be a manual action. Then you can make needed changes and submit a reconsideration request there. Once approved, you can start moving content to the new domain.
Move the website and content to the new domain
After the background works, we are all set to move our content to the new domain. Please move content in portions, i.e., stage by stage, so you can check how it impacts your rankings. But as many want to finish this job as soon as possible, it is only sometimes practical. However, it will be great to wait a couple of weeks after moving the content, new design and new logo, etc. If you manually transfer the content, have a content management system. You can also use plugins or other appropriate tools for moving content.
Contact our content marketing services for tension-free content management.
Redirect old pages
Don’t neglect your old domain when you have a new one. Because before a redirect, Google will compare old and new pages. So, both need to look alike. We discussed the benefits of 301 redirects for moving a website to a new domain. It will ensure to send Google and your audience to the new domain when they land on the old. It is a crucial step in the moving process and is the key to retaining rankings.
Tools that help for setting up 301 redirects:
- The .htaccess generator – Free tool. You will get the exact code needed.
- Changing page URL with 301 redirects – You will get this from Google Webmaster Tool’s help section.
- Simple 301 Redirects – WordPress plugin. Free. It will automate redirects.
After 301 redirects, you need to check for broken links. You may have a lot of pages to move, and redirecting all of them one by one can sometimes make something missing. You can check broken links using GSC, and several other ways include third-party plugins. It would be best if you were careful about checking whether all your old domain pages have similar pages in the new domain. If not, you may have to create 404 pages for content that doesn’t have equivalent pages on the new domain.
Once your domain gets verified, and you did 301 redirects, you can submit a change of address application in GSC.
Finally, we have moved the website to a new domain, but it is still ongoing. There are several follow-ups needed after moving to a new domain. That includes creating/updating the sitemap, checking links (internal and inbound) and updating them, Watching the analytics, or monitoring the domain move.