How to change your domain name and not lose traffic

Changing the domain name of your website can result in a sudden drop in traffic if you don’t do it properly. In this post we will look at the things you should do to ensure you don’t lose your organic search traffic.

Why change domain name?

For one reason or another you might want to change your website address (or URL). You might have acquired the .com for your brand name, or maybe you have rebranded your company and you want a new web address.

If you were to simply change your address, and take no action, to Google that will be seen as a new website.

This means all your previous rankings and authority you have built up over previous years will be lost.

However, there are a few steps you can take to tell Google and other search engines you are simply changing your address to help you keep that hard earned traffic.

How to change your domain name

If you have access to a developer, it might be worth asking them to help you change your domain name. 

The main tool we will use for this is the Google Search Console. You’ll also need some small coding experience to create server side re-directs.

Once you have your new domain name purchased, you’re ready to get started:

  1. Step 1 – Clone your site to another webspace. Ideally you want to have a direct copy of your website set up with your new domain name associated with it. You will temporarily have two copies of your website, one with your old URL and your new URL. 
  2. Step 2Verify both domains on Google Search Console
  3. Step 3 – Set up 301 redirects
  4. Step 4 – Check and re-check!
  5. Step 5 – Submit the domain change with the Google Change of Address Tool.

 

You will need some prior knowledge of how to do 301 redirects, essentially this is the process of signing posting Google from an address on your old site, over to your new site. There are various plugins that can handle this for you but we generally tend to do it on the web server via a .htaccess file. 

If in doubt, talk to a developer!

Conclusion

The most important thing to take from this post is that if you are considering changing your website address for any reason, you need to tell Google you are changing it.

We’ve seen sites in the past that have many years of rankings built up, only for a new site to be launched on a different address and rankings having dropped dramatically.

Getting the correct domain name for your business is important for your overall brand, you may not be able to acquire it straight away but always keep your eye out for that perfect domain and remember you can change your address and keep your rankings at the same time!

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