Domain Migrating Tips for keeping your Search Engine Ranking

Giving your business a new name can greatly increase your turnover. A brand name is often the outcome of a decision which was made decades ago.

Therefore it may sound outdated, boring or doesn’t represent every aspect of your business anymore. Even worse, some customers might connect your name with something bad that happened to them. Rebranding often does wonders for your sales. So for a successful rebranding, you have to prepare everything first. New brochures, business cards, logo, signs and a new website of course. It is important to change everything at once, so customers don’t get confused. The worst case is that some customers might think there are two businesses now.

This article focuses on the Search Engine Optimisation of moving a website to a new domain, but we are glad to help you with other aspects of a successful rebranding. Contact us today if you want us to design a new website or a new logo for you.

Ok, I have everything prepared and bought a new domain. Do I just create a link on the old homepage that links to the new one?

No, if you do that you will have to build up all of your SEO again for the new website which can take a really long time. The magic word is 301 Redirects. Whenever a webserver delivers a webpage to a browser it sends a status code with it. The most used status is 200, which means the page was delivered successfully. But the status code you probably have visibly encountered the most, is 404. This means the page couldn’t be found on the server. So 301, in addition with a new address, tells the browser that the website has been permanently moved to a new location. The browser then automatically loads the correct page. But more importantly, search engines also know now that the (basically) same page is now located under a different address. Of course you should still greet the visitors with a message to let them know your business name has changed. Otherwise they might assume your website got hacked.

But there is more you can do to preserve your built up SEO:

Create a XML Sitemap for the new domain to submit to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools/Search Console.

Update the tracking tool (we mostly use Google Analytics) on your homepage with the new business name and URL. With Google Analytics, this can be done in the Admin Tab. If you use Google Search Console, you also have to change the address of the website by clicking on the gear icon.

Change all links to your website on external directories like FourSquare. If you haven’t done it already, now is a good time create a list of external pages that link on your page, which you can influence. If you have any business partners that link to your website, obviously you also have to let them know that you have a new website.

Make use of Social Media to actively promote your new business name. Large companies like Eircom which are currently rebranding to eir have the money for nationwide TV spots, but for a small to medium sized company, a Facebook or Twitter post can do wonders. If your customers like your business and have friends that are customers at your business too, they might even share it or retweet it.

To make sure everything is working properly, you can use a tool like Screaming Frog web spider to check the 301 Redirects. This is a short tutorial for this tool:

  1. Select Mode > List
  2. Select a file with old URLs to check
  3. Select Always Follow Redirects in the Advanced tab inside the Spider Configuration
  4. Click Start and let it do its work
  5. View the report by clicking on Reports > Redirect Chains

We hope this checklist helped you with your domain migration project. If you have any questions contact us today!

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