Domain name is an important aspect of your online business. Sometimes, you might need to change it due to pressing reasons. This must be done with caution because a domain name must ideally remain the same. But if you do have good reason for changing it, then you’ll need to make sure that you don’t lose SEO ranking.
Here are a few tips on how to change your domain and still not lose your ranking.
Search Engine Optimization
Check Your Stats
Before you transfer your domain name, check your statistics, traffic, bounce rate, click-through-rates etc. After you make the switch, these statistics will serve as a comparison parameter. You can keep track and make sure you haven’t lost out on SEO.
Things To Benchmark
List of inbound links: The biggest SEO ranking factor is your inbound traffic. You could use the ‘search traffic’ menu from Google Webmaster Tools. Export this list and maintain these records. Alternately you can also use tools like ‘open site explorer’ and assess your link statistics. These tools give you both the volume and the quality of inbound links.
List of good quality links: Take note of all good quality links. After changing your domain name, revisit your statistics and check if the ranking of these links are the same. This is how you confirm that you haven’t lost any traffic to your website.
Redirect your traffic
When you change your domain name, your users would go to the old domain. You’ll have to redirect them to the new one. This needs to be done seamlessly for the initial months until your new domain name is as famous as the old one. You want to get people used to the new domain name.
Set up a 301 redirect, so that users visiting the old domain are redirected to the new page. Moreover, redirecting also informs the search engine that the page has been changed and permanently shifted to a new domain name.
Use a ‘wild card’ redirect so that 301 redirect gets automatically added to all your old domain. Once you’ve set this up, ensure that it works seamlessly. Use the help of a ‘301 checker’ to be absolutely sure.
Retain The URL Structure
It’s advisable to keep the structure of the URL same. Changing the structure will only add to the hassle that you’ll face. If needed, wait for a few months and then change the structure when all the domain name change issues have been sorted out. This way, you can keep both you and your users satisfied.
Once your domain name has been changed, ensure you’ve made the necessary changes to your account. Use Google Webmaster Tools to change your link address.
Avoid 404 Errors
404 ‘Not Found’ Error
After migrating for a few days, keep checking all your pages for any ‘404 Error’. This is an error that shows up when a page isn’t redirecting properly. Make sure your check all your inner pages at regular intervals and prevent your users from seeing this error. It can be frustrating for them, and they’ll more often than not leave to find a competitor whose site works.
Changing your domain is usually a rare requirement, but there are instances where this may be the best thing to do for your business. You can transfer your domain to certain registrars like Shopify that have in-built SEO features. Shopify also has a great domain name checker so in case you are looking for a new domain to purchase, you can do it directly on Shopify and then make the change.
Make sure you take all necessary precautions to ensure that the migration doesn’t disrupt your traffic or business. The users, customers, or subscribers you accumulate are valuable assets that you own in an online business. So, take as many measures as you can to keep these assets intact.
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