There are many reasons why website owners may choose to move their domain elsewhere. There could be a company name change, rebrand, change in business model, new products or a completely new service provided by that company and many other reasons. By doing a quick Google search on migrating a domain, you can quickly see why website owners often panic about completing this process. There are many articles out there claiming that moving a domain can have significant potential SEO implications.
The fear of dropping rankings in Google’s search results is enough to keep many business owners awake at night before, during and after the migration process. This feeling of anxiety is even more pronounced when you are making the move from an old domain to a new one and additional branding concerns are thrown into the mix.
Can you loose rankings by moving domain?
The fact is, changing the domain name of your website can have a serious impact on SEO, rankings and organic traffic and generally it is not advised from SEO perspective. As mentioned, sometimes there is no option but to change a domain. If the correct measures are taken to ensure you have done all you can to keep your current ranking position, then it is possible to keep you previous traffic levels.
How do I switch without loosing traffic?
We have put together a list of top tips and suggested tasks to complete whilst changing the domain of your website. We would suggest completing all of the tasks below to protect your current organic rankings and traffic volumes. From previous experience we have always seen sites drop rankings or even disappear completely from Google for anywhere between a few hours to a few days, but that is nothing to worry if you dabble in all of the following.
Setup 301 Redirects
Setup global 301 redirects to cover the domain move, so any old links from other websites and the results in the SERPs will move visitors to the correct page on the new domain. This will preserve most of the link value. This process assumes that the entire site structure is remaining the same, so after the new domain the rest of the URL remains unchanged.
Add New Content
To give Google more to index we would suggest optimising existing content and creating new content. We would suggest the creation of new landing pages to target keywords not currently targeted whilst waiting for the primary keywords to stabilise after the move. It can take Google up to 30 days to re-index all pages and give them a position in the SERPs.
Generate New Links
According to Matt Cutts in a recent Webmaster Tools Video 301 redirects pass exactly the same amount of link juice (aka PageRank, or authority) as regular links. Cutts puts in a disclaimer that this policy could change over time but that, as of February 25, 2013; both pass equal amounts to the destination page. That said we still believe that acquiring new links after migrating is essential. The websites current link profile will be under the old domain and you need to start acquiring new links for the new domain. We would also suggest converting any self-curated links to the new domain after the switch (social media profiles, business directory listings, partner sites etc.)
Social Media Announcements
Announcing and publicising the domain name change to provide important social signals and promote the re-branding in its own right. This will generate higher than usual volumes of traffic to the new domain to compensate for the potential drop in organic traffic whilst Google is indexing the new domain.
Furthermore to the social media announcements we would suggest to compose and submit a press release covering the re-branding and launch of the site at the new domain. Although this is potentially quite boring news for readers, a press release can acquire new links and qualified traffic to the website.
Organic rankings tend to drop in cases such as these, so a targeted PPC campaign across your primary keywords to maintain a good level of traffic and qualified leads can be very cost effective. Display network remarketing campaigns will also broadcast imagery, if your business name or logo has changed for example.
To ensure that the domain move has gone smoothly the completion of a full SEO audit of the website will identify any major errors. The audit should specify fixes for major errors and improvements for any less critical errors/warnings detected.
Each of the following suggestions would need to take place at a specific time during the migration process. We suggest completing all of the above tasks to ensure rankings aren’t affected by the change in domain. Creode’s SEO team can aid in completing the tasks above so if you are looking to migrate your website to a new domain, contact us for prices and more information.