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Changing your domain name: how to minimize SEO impact

by Maaike Geys , Jan 13

There are many reasons why you would want to change your domain name. Maybe you are adapting your business and need a new name to go along with that change. Maybe you are moving your website to a new platform. Maybe you want to change your .com to .be to serve your local audience in a better way. Maybe you want to simplify your domain name, so it’s easier to type and remember.  

Whatever the reason may be – changing your domain name is not something you do in 1 2 3. It’s a big endeavor (depending on how large your website is, of course) that should not be taken lightly. In this article, we’ll be talking about SEO impact – but of course, there is a huge technological effort to be made as well.

Should you change your domain name? 

There are quite a few good reasons for changing your domain name. For example: let’s say that your main audience resides in Belgium. Your current website is example.com. When Google reads this URL, he automatically thinks that you are talking to a global audience. In this case, it makes total sense to change your domain name to example.be – Google will know that you are mostly talking to people in Belgium.

Another good example: The city of London wants to change their domain name from London.co.uk to city.london. In this case, it makes sense, because the domain name is unique, and it’s easy to understand. When changing domain names, you have to keep your audience in mind. Is your new URL easy to remember? Is it easy to spell? When you sell or provide services that come with a certain sensitivity (pharma, banking, healthcare…) you should be extra careful when choosing a (new) domain name. You don’t want your clients to think that your website is fraudulent! 

SEO Impact

Your website URL is very important for Google – it’s unique. Unfortunately, there are no magic tricks - when changing domain name, there will always be an impact.

It’s quite simple, really. Let’s take a real life example: you are moving house and changing address. You warn the important people about your change of address (your employer, your city administration, your healthcare provider…) but you might forget about some. Some letters or emails will go lost. Some companies will keep sending mail to your old address. Thus, it will be more difficult to reach you. 

There will always be a drop of traffic, and you’ll need to put in some extra efforts after re-directing every page to your new domain name: you can launch a mixed campaign (we recommend newsletters, Google Ads, social media Ads and organic postings via your owned accounts), write new, relevant content to add to your website and take this opportunity to improve technical SEO issues.

Minimizing SEO impact when changing domain name 

These tips & tricks will help you in moving your website to a new domain name: 

  1. If possible, plan the move in a period where you have less traffic then usual.

  2. Make sure that everyone internally is aligned. 

  3. Make sure that you communicate externally that your website will be moved. Good communication to clients and prospects is absolutely vital! 

  4. Migrate on a test environment first: you'll thank us later.

  5. Create a spreadsheet with all old URL’s and their respective new ones. This way, you will be able to make sure that each and every URL is 301’ed correctly.

  6. Work with skilled developers to move domains. You don’t want anything going wrong here! 

  7. Don’t forget to change your address in your Google Search Console – this way, Google knows you’ve ‘moved’.

  8. We recommend not deleting your old domain immediately – monitor both, and delete your old one when traffic picks up on the new domain.

We hope that this article gave you some insights in changing domain names. If you still have any questions, feel free to get in touch - we are happy to help & advise.

Would you be interesed in an article about the technical impact of changing domain names? Let us know on LinkedIn or Twitter!

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