You might be willing to change the domain when seeing that there is more user-friendly one available. Or, maybe, you have just changed the company’s name and need to change the domain name into a similar one. Luckily, it is possible to transfer a site to a new domain name without damaging search ranking.
Ryan Johnson, the expert of Semalt Digital Services shares the tips on how to change domain name without harming your ranking.
1. Back Up Everything
Switching to a new domain sometimes can pose significant problems, and one may be forced to revert to the old one. It is important to ensure that you have working backup files. In any case, they will make you confident that no loss will be crucial for you.
2. Clean Your New Domain
Checking your new domain name ensures that the new domain will not contain any unresolved issues. Google Webmaster Tools offer new domains. The Manual Actions page allows you to check the errors. If there is any manual actions needed, make necessary changes and then send a reconsideration request. On approval, one can go ahead with the next step.
3. Moving Content
SEO experts recommend transferring the content to the new domain name by portions to gauge the impact it will have on the search rankings. It is time-consuming, but it protects the website from jeopardizing its search ranking. A 301 redirect reroutes Google to the location of the new content. Manual relocation requires putting a content management system in place.
4. Permanently Redirect Old Pages
Setting up 301 redirects for the .htaccess file to ensure that Google and site visitors will find the new domain. It will maintain search rankings and protect owners from duplicate content penalties. To avoid this create 404 pages for content with no equivalence to the new domain. Also, map old URLs to the new ones before conducting any redirects to increase content relevance.
5. Inform Google of the Move
Redirects inform search engines about domain shifts. It is also a good idea to submit an official change notification. It requires adding and verifying the new domain in Google Webmaster Tools. One must ensure that all of the 301’s are in place before Google accepts a request to change the address.
6. Create a Sitemap
HTML sitemaps improve user experience, whereas XML sitemaps please search engines. Google recommends using both old and updated URLs. Most of the indexed pages belong to the old URLs. Therefore, businesses must give the site time before indexing shifts to the new URLs. Manual XML creation is hard, but XML-Sitemaps and Google-XML sitemaps help to automate the process.
7. Check and Update Internal and Inbound Links
The 301 redirects point internal links towards the new domain. Internal links lead to nowhere when the old domain closes which means that they need replacing before that happens. Also, sites linking to the old domain should update their links to the new ones thus ensuring indefinite link authority.
8. Monitor Analytics
The mention above seven-steps process ensures that the domain does not permanently lose its search traffic. Nevertheless, monitoring the site analytics and Google Webmaster console is obligatory in the months following.