Your domain name is a crucial element in establishing your online presence and cultivating your brand image. There are many reasons why you would want to change your domain name, such as rebranding your business, giving your website a fresh look, or even switching to something memorable that is relevant to your brand.
Will changing my domain name affect SEO?
Your domain name and SEO (search engine optimization) work together to build your brand and increase traffic to your site. Changing your domain will affect your search engine rankings since any links on your website under your old domain will no longer work.
However, taking the right steps will minimize the drop in search engine rankings. Use these tips to retain traffic to your site when changing your website’s domain name;
- Backup your website. When you want to make a significant change to your site, backing up your site is the safest way to do so. Having a recent backup of your website will prevent you from losing your data and damaging your site’s SEO. Plus, if something goes wrong during or after the domain name change, you can keep it from affecting your site.
- Transfer your web pages to the new domain name. You will need to first create a database for your new domain name before making the switch. You can then move the files you downloaded manually or through plugins. For WordPress users, a quicker route would be using an automated migration process by using Softaculous available in the cPanel.
- Redirect URLs. After moving the content to the new site, set up some permanent redirects for search engines to index the content of your new domain. Use 301 redirects to transfer page rank values, anchor text data, and links, which retain domain authority and helps search engines understand that your site content has moved to a different home on the web. Ensure you redirect each page to the appropriate URL, as it is essential for driving traffic from the old domain name to the new one. Since 301 directs cannot be reversed in the future, a 302 redirect will serve the purpose if the domain change is temporary.
- Update relevant backlinks. Arguably, it takes a lot of time and effort to cultivate high-quality backlinks to your website, which plays a crucial role in boosting your search engine rankings. Backlinks point to your old website and link directly to the new domain pages. Although 301 redirects transfer most links, pay attention to ensure you do not lose any backlinks with a high-page rank, and SEO value when changing your site’s URL.
- Pre-testing. When doing a crucial restructuring such as a domain change, you should do a site audit to ensure everything works properly. Check for broken links in the navigation or copy and website errors to change and modify before your domain goes live. After updating the broken links, meta descriptions, and title tags on the new site, you can proceed to launch your new website.
While following these steps will help you retain your search engine rankings, it’s worthwhile to switch to an SEO-friendly domain for an additional boost in your site rankings and to improve your brand credibility.