If you are a website owner, then you must understand the use of an appropriate domain name, which suggests everything about your website. When any visitor visits your website, he gets an idea about your overall business, products, etc. which you will be offered to him or services offered by you, etc.
Now that domain name plays such an important role in improving SEO, it should be selected wisely. If you remember, in earlier days when the concept of internet or websites was new, just limited domain names were available like .com, .net or .org, etc. Due to which it was very easy for the people back then to get the exact domain name which they were looking for!
There was one more belief in those days that, people used to think that .com domain name is the best choice for their website and it will exceed everything else. Therefore the .com domain name was treated respectfully.
Thus if we compare them with today’s domain names you will come to know that the length of the domain names has also grown and you can create a domain name of any size. This change was very useful for SEO. One more point which I want to mention here is that slowly people began to give preference to the UX and domain names started to provide user experience as well as quality to the visitors.
Now we are in the period of gTLDs which stands for generic Top-Level Domains. Due to these generic domain names, we are able to append the geographic areas or locations and you can select them from hundreds and thousands of choices. This will help you in reflecting the location of your business or the area you are interested in. For example consider these domain names: .company, .info, .store, .healthcare etc. These are only a few examples, but the actual list of domain names is very big at the same time the list is kept on growing on a regular basis.
Due to all these variations available in the domain names for the people, they are not ready to choose the second best option for a domain name. Today’s domain names are very expressive and exactly express what you wish it to reflect or express, but still, there is one problem and that is nothing but the number of choices available for them. Because of which a lot of people are attracted to changing the domain names of their website to a much better domain name and some of them may do that. And now you must have recognized the reason behind it – which is nothing but the ‘SEO’ right?
We all know that Search Engine Optimization helps a website to generate the traffic and get ranked on the SERP. Therefore people have started to give more importance to the domain names than the actual website which they have created. Therefore it is still possible to get the best of both sides i.e. changing a domain name that too without affecting various problems related to SEO or at the most trying to create a minimum impact on SEO.
We are assisting you in how to handle these SEO issues at the time of changing a website’s domain name! Let’s look at that:
1. Take a backup of everything:
An important point to be noted here is that, when you are trying to change the domain name, it means you are migrating to another server or it may happen that you will be required to move to a new account present on the same server. Therefore at the time of such drastic changes always think about the worst case. In other words, assume that if you lose all your data while transferring your account, then it will become hard to restore that data, so always take a full backup of your data. Taking a backup of your data will depend upon the control panel that you are using or if you are using a cloud-based backup service or any other service, always make a practice of backing up your complete data and also make sure that the backed up data is available to you at any time.
2. Before buying another domain name always makes sure that whether that domain name has already been registered or not:
The domain name which you have selected, if it is the latest domain name and with brand new extensions, then the chances of it being getting registered are very less but in some cases, there may be a chance of it getting already registered. One more important thing to be considered is to verify whether that domain name has been penalized by Google due to any reason. If the domain name has been panelized by Google then it will not permit you to use Google Adsense. Also once you clarify whether that domain name has permission to utilize Google Adsense then it will provide you clear information regarding its history and also its value.
For verifying if the details of the domain name which you have selected already exists or not, take help of whois website or Wayback Machine, etc. which provides very good information about whether the domain name was in use previously? If yes! Then look for some other domain name.
Google also helps you by providing Manual Actions reports which tell you that whether someone at Google has earlier flagged that domain name because of any reason. For avoiding future legal issues it will be a good practice to verify whether that domain name is a registered trademark or not.
3. Transfer your files to the new server or to the new account on the same server:
Content Management Systems like WordPress, or Drupal, or Joomla consists of various numbers of modules or plugins, which provide help to make such type of migrations swiftly. So if your website is based on any of the CMSs then the transition will take place smoothly, but if you are not using any of the CMSs then you may need to either rebuild pages manually or with the help of some code. Thus your content will be delivered under a new URL.
4. Now it’s time to point your old URL at the new URL:
For pointing your old URL to new URL, if you can get it done by a program automatically, then it is easy process, but if it is not possible then you will need to access your .htaccess file and carry out the redirections on your own and if your website is big in size then it will be quite a work.
But anyway it is a must. It is important to note that while redirecting your URL, take help of ‘301 redirects’ because 301 redirect indicates that it is a permanent move. And Google will also transfer SEO benefits if any, from an old URL to the new URL.
5. Creating a dedicated 404 Redirect page:
If you are carrying out this process manually, then there are chances of you making few mistakes and which may culminate into few links may be directed to the non-existing pages. This is not considered as a good practice, but it is possible to identify this problem before and for that, you will require to create a 404 redirect page as follows:
In your HTML page, avoid using refresh type transfer code, as shown below:
<meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”0; URL=’http://newwebsite.com/newpage'” />
As SEO is concerned, including ‘Redirect 30 /http: // freshsite.in/ newpage’ into your .htaccess file would be a far better option.
6. Creating and including a new Sitemap:
Sitemaps especially XML sitemaps help Google for reading the web pages of your website, so always remember to include a sitemap into your website. For creating a sitemap, there are various websites which will help you in generating a sitemap for your website. One more point to be considered here is, if your website is using any type of CMSs then the plugins and modules present in them can execute this process for you. Once the sitemap is created, it has to be submitted into Google Webmaster.
7. Submission of the new site to Google:
For submitting your new website, you will again require going to Google Webmaster and precise instructions will be delivered to the website, because if the Google recognizes these changes at the early stage, then it will be beneficial for SEO.
Always remember that a number of factors decides whether the ranking of your old website in SERP is really transmitted to your new domain name like whether you have added redirect page or if the web pages of your new website are loading slowly than your old website’s web pages, etc. or if you think that your new website contains some flaws of any kind then don’t anticipate that your old domain’s SEO is carried over to your new domain.
I think you find this information helpful! Please do not forget to leave a comment in the comment section below. Thank you for reading the blog. See you soon with another blog on another interesting topic.