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How to Change Domain Names Without Losing SEO

Every webmaster, sometime in his life, finds himself in a situation where he/she wants to replace the domain name of his/her website. Changing domain names is a difficult thing because if you modify the domain name of your site, you can lose all the SEO work.

If proper procedure is not taken care of while changing domain names, your website visitors will face Errors and you’ll lose traffic as well as ranking.

Google's Server Error page

Google’s Server Error page (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Change Domain Names Without Losing Seo

The step-by-step easy procedure is specified below.

You can follow these steps to alter the domain names of your websites quickly and safely.

Tell your hosting provider before doing anything:

First thing first, you have to inform your hosting provider about the change in your domain name. You can contact your service provider via chat or call and tell them that you are making a switch from your current domain to a new one. Make sure they check your website’s official website and give you the green signal to make the switch. Your service provider can also give you some useful advice about the switch.

There’s another benefit of telling your hosting provider about the switch; you’ll get noticed by the domain provider and they will carefully monitor your website and can provide you useful information.

Perform an audit of your site:

Before making the switch, you should perform an audit of your site. This will give you better stats about website performance, and you can set this as a benchmark for your new domain name. The main thing you need an audit for is links coming to your websites. This is necessary because it is a factor used for local ranking.

There are two methods to link audit; first is to use Google Webmaster tools and the second way is through Open Site Explorer. Both the methods are easy to do, but open site explorer provides more information about the links coming to your site and the quality of these links.

Redirect every page on your current website:

The next thing that you require to do is to redirect every page on your existing website to the new domain name. This can be easily done using 301 redirect platforms. 301 redirect will redirect your users towards the new domain and will also tell search engines that you have permanently shifted your website to a new domain. If you want to redirect every page on your website, you have to create a “wildcard” redirect in .htaccess, and it will automatically redirect every page on your website towards new domain.

Make sure to verify every version of your new domain in Google Search Console:

Make sure you verify every version of your new domain in Google Search Console because Google can send you important messages or tell you what actions are needed regarding the new domain through Google Search Console. So, if there is some problem regarding the website, you can sort it out. The versions which should be tested are www, non-www, https, non-https.

Try to retain your URL structure:

Try to keep the URL structure same as it was. The same URL structure is better because it does not create confusion for Google or your users. If you want to make changes in the URL structure, make them after a few months of shifting.

Backup your website:

Before making any progress towards domain change, you should backup your website, so that, if you encounter any problem regarding domain change, you can restore an older version of the website later.

Change all internal links:

Changing all internal links can be a difficult task, but it is a necessary one. You should change all internal links, and you can do it easily with extensions such as Better Search-Replace. Better Search Replace enables users to change internal links easily in a single step.

Tell Google about the domain change:

In the end, don’t forget to tell Google that you moved to a new domain. You can do it easily through Google Webmaster tool. There is a link to change the address under the little gear icon tab and through this link, you can easily change your website address.

Things to do after the domain change:

After you change to a new domain, you should closely monitor the new domain. There can be errors like 404 which can occur. You need to continuously check the new domain if there is any 404 error. 404 errors occur when some page is not redirected properly. Also, reach out to the websites from where your website was linked. Ask them to manually update the links of your domain.

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