Rebranding a business or changing business specialty is a common marketing tactic used by many companies. With the rebranding, you’ll also have to make a domain shift, and this is certainly not good news for SEO. How will you keep your site’s SEO authority that you have built with the existing domain?
The process of switching your domain may be a bit complicated and technical. Also, a sudden shift in the domain could affect your website traffic and conversion rate. So, you need to ensure a smooth transaction process so that your SEO ranking is not affected.
Thus, here is a step-by-step procedure to switch your domain name without losing SEO ranking.
1. Your Destination Domain Should be Clean
If you are switching to an existing domain, then it is like moving to an old house. You need to search for the domain on archive.org and get a complete history of what actual web pages were displayed on it.
If you get any spam or low-quality content, then you need to check again. A backlink checker can help you with the domain search. If there is something live on the domain, add it to the Google search console.
It’ll let you know how well it has been indexed by Google, and if there were any penalty actions taken against the domain in the past.
If you find any manual actions of the past, you need to stop right there and address those issues before moving further. You can send a reconsideration request to Google for lifting those penalties.
2. Review Backlinks and Search Performance
Now is the time to make an inventory of your existing SEO status, as it will help you to make a quick before and after comparison later. Using the Google search console, you can get useful results about your website.
You’ll get a complete performance report that will state how well your domain is performing in search results. It will let you know about the complete indexing of your website, the sitemap, and indexing coverage.
It gives you a review of usability problems and what pages have usability problems on mobile devices. It provides a complete link report that lets you know what other sites are linking to your sites. You’ll also get a complete list of backlinks that point towards your site.
3. Site Migration
You need to migrate all your files to the new domain. If the new domain is different, then export all the files from the older one and upload it to the new one. If it is a similar hosting service, then the hosting company will create a new folder for all your files.
You need to copy site files from one place to another. You also need to create a new SQL database if you are a WordPress user. Clone all the old database contents using the phpMyAdmin tool on your website.
When you configure the changes in the new database, you’ll be able to access the same website and domain name. Don’t keep both the domains for a long time as its duplicate content in Google’s eyes.
4. Add Redirects From The Old Domain
Redirects are important to drive traffic from the old domain to new ones. It helps to maintain your search rankings; it helps Google to understand that your site has moved to a different home so it updates its index accordingly.
Wildcard redirect makes each post and file points to its specific location, it’s added at the hosting account level. You need to add this to WordPress level using the simple 101 redirects.
The redirect feature you use for your WordPress website is important for SEO as they help Google to understand that all the old pages have moved to a new location. Any ranking signals will transfer to the new domain.
5. Domain Change Intimation
Use the GSC that is available in your old WordPress domain. You need to use the change of address feature in that. But for this, add and verify your new domain before changing the context.
You also have the option of using the Google console feature for change of address. If you have no technical knowledge about the domain change feature, you can submit it manually.
You’ll need to submit the site maps of both old and new websites in the GSC. This is the best way to make Google aware of the 301 redirects. Change of domain is easy as you’ll be able to pick up a new website from the listing, submit and confirm to complete this step.
6. Testing and Testing
When you complete the domain change process, it’s time to test your site. Do a manual test by typing in the old domain. There are many other ways to check your site.
Take feedback from your followers or friends as they might see errors you can’t. Using Google Analytics, track your site on the new domain. If nothing shows up in the real-time option in GA, then there is something wrong with your website.
Check the overall traffic after the domain change on the website. The GA will also show you 404 pages. Plus, check the indexing and coverage reports for errors using the GA feature.
For performance issues, use PageSpeed Insights. Use an uptime robot to monitor your website if it goes down. Doing this will make your new website more interactive and appealing.
7. Post-migration SEO Actions
You need to decide whether you want to create a new email account for your new domain. After you make a new account, change the email that is displayed on the contact page and set the new mail as the destination mail for the new domain.
Update all the possible mentions of your old account. Make changes in all your social media account profiles and all the online accounts that you have. Change the domain address in stationery and business cards.
You also need to make changes in the email signature and ad campaigns of the company. The most important part is to make a change in Google My Business listing as it plays an important role in ranking.
After all the above steps, you also need to notify all your clients and visitors through your blog post, email campaigns, newsletters, and social media posts.