How to Update Your Domain Without Affecting SEO

Change is natural in any business. As your company evolves, you might be thinking of updating your branding, adding new products or services, or redesigning your website. Occasionally, this means changing your domain name, as well. This is easy enough to do, but before switching to a new URL, keep in mind that doing so will impact your SEO.

The Risks in Updating Your Domain

Your domain name is a crucial part of your online identity. As the Grail Knight warned Indiana Jones, choose wisely! But even if you’ve picked out a perfect name, at some point it might make smart business sense to update your domain. Some of the common reasons include:

  • Rebranding
  • Growth/expansion
  • Relocation
  • Copyright issues
  • A better, more representative domain name becomes available

There are many valid reasons for selecting a new domain, but it’s important to understand the risks involved. When you change your domain name, the URL on every page is affected — and that wipes out all the organic history you’ve worked so hard to obtain. Google and other search engines must recrawl, reevaluate, and reindex every page. You’re liable to lose your rankings, resulting in a drop in organic traffic to your site.

The good news? There are strategies that can help mitigate, or even prevent, these losses. It is possible to change your domain name without seeing your search visibility and traffic numbers decrease…as long as you follow a few important steps.

4 Steps to Preserving Organic Traffic

Before taking the plunge on a new domain name, the following steps will help you preserve traffic and maintain your SEO rankings:

  • Choose a strong domain name. This goes without saying! You’ll want a domain that is easy to spell, type, and pronounce. It should also be flexible to your business needs and potential growth so you won’t have to update it again in the future.
  • Audit your domain. Unless you’ve purchased a brand new domain that has never been used before, your domain name will have some history. Conduct a thorough audit, looking at all backlinks and referring domains, to make sure your domain has a good rating and hasn’t been red flagged for misinformation, suspicious activity, or deceptive practices. Also manage your local citation listings to ensure they point to your new location.
  • Migrate your site to the new domain. Work with your hosting provider to ensure a smooth transition of all content, files, and databases.
  • Set up redirects. This is the key to hanging onto your existing traffic. Set up permanent 301 redirects for all pages so users and search engines will be taken from your old URLs to your new ones seamlessly. Make sure each old page is mapped to a corresponding new page to prevent broken links, which can negatively impact SEO.

Foremost Helps Client Through Domain Change

A Foremost Media manufacturing client recently updated their domain name to reflect an expanded product lineup. To lessen the impacts, we performed a series of SEO steps to help maintain organic search visibility and preserve traffic to their updated website. This process included 301 redirects, updating local citation listings with the new domain, and transferring on-page keyword optimizations.

Our efforts paid off as there was no dropoff in SEO numbers following the switchover. Organic traffic numbers held steady (averaging 1,050 visitors per month) and organic keywords remained right around 2,183 after the new URL went live.

If you’re planning a domain change and want to ensure your SEO rankings don’t drop, contact Foremost Media for a free quote.

Update for 2024:

Conquering Search Console: Identifying Post-Migration Glitches

With your shiny new domain up and running, it's time to conquer the final frontier: Google Search Console. This essential tool will be your post-migration radar, revealing any pesky errors that might hinder your SEO ascent. Here's how to dive in:

1. Claim Your Digital Throne: Verify your ownership of the new domain in Search Console, securing your rightful seat of power over search visibility.

2. Legacy Lurks: Add your old domain as a property to identify lingering links pointing to the past. Remember, 301 redirects are your loyal knights, escorting traffic smoothly to the new kingdom.

3. Errors Are Your Beacons: Scan the Coverage report for any crawl errors, like broken links or missing pages. Treat them like fallen logs on your SEO path, clear them away for a smooth journey.

4. Indexing Intrigue: Check the Index Status report to ensure your new pages are being welcomed into Google's digital library. If not, submit sitemaps to pave the way for their grand entrance.

5. Mobile Musketeers: Don't forget your mobile audience! Test the Mobile Usability report to identify any technical roadblocks hindering their visit. Remember, Google loves responsive designs, so make sure your website rolls out the welcome mat for every device.

By diligently exploring these Search Console features, you'll vanquish any post-migration errors and ensure your new domain reigns supreme in the kingdom of search results. So, grab your virtual sword and shield, dive into Search Console, and let the SEO adventure begin!

Domain Migration FAQ: Conquering Your SEO Fears

Q: I'm scared of losing my SEO rankings when I migrate domains. Is that inevitable?

A: Fear not! With careful planning and strategic execution, you can update your domain without major ranking dips. The key lies in proper redirects, consistent content, and ongoing SEO management. Foremost Media specializes in seamless domain migrations, so we can guide you through the process for minimal SEO impact.

Q: Do I need to tell Google about my domain migration?

A: Absolutely! Inform Google Search Console about your migration plan and submit sitemaps of your new website. This helps Google understand the change and properly index your new pages.

Q: How long will it take my SEO to recover after the migration?

A: Recovery typically takes 3-6 months, depending on the complexity of your site and the quality of your migration efforts. Patience and consistent SEO maintenance are key!

Q: Can I handle the migration myself, or should I hire an SEO agency?

A: While DIY migration is possible, partnering with an experienced SEO agency like Foremost Media offers several advantages. We have the expertise to navigate the intricate process, ensure proper redirects, and provide ongoing SEO support for a smooth transition.

Q: My website has a lot of internal links. What happens to them during the migration?

A: Don't fret! When setting up redirects, map your old URLs to their corresponding new pages, preserving the integrity of your internal linking structure. This way, search engines and users can seamlessly navigate your new website.

Q: I'm worried about broken links after the migration. How can I prevent them?

A: Tools like Screaming Frog can help you identify and fix broken links on your new site. Remember, a clean website with functioning links is crucial for a positive user experience and optimal SEO performance.

Q: Can I build new backlinks to my new domain to accelerate SEO recovery?

A: Absolutely! Outreach, guest blogging, and link reclamation are excellent strategies to build authority and improve your ranking on your new domain. Foremost Media can also assist with professional link building campaigns.

Q: I have more questions about my specific domain migration. Can I talk to someone at Foremost Media?

A: Of course! Contact our friendly experts for a free consultation. We're happy to discuss your unique needs and tailor a personalized domain migration plan for your website.

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