Have you ever thought about changing your web address?
You can certainly do it anytime you want. But, it costs a fair amount of time and money to do. As far as technical SEO goes, it’s not one of the easier processes. A lot of SEO is reasonably simple to do, but takes a lot of time.
And, it doesn’t necessarily transfer all of your SEO value with it. However, you will get most of it.
When does transferring domains make sense? In a couple situations:
- You’re rebranding. Your name is absolutely critical to the success of your business. In this case, transferring a domain makes sense.
- You’ve been penalized several times. Penalties can be nearly impossible to recover from if you’ve been hit by a lot of them. Alternatively, they can also be so costly from a time and financial perspective that you’re better off simply moving to a new domain.
How Do You Move to a New Domain?
Don’t try to do this work yourself. As a small business owner, you have skills that are much more valuable to your company than SEO.
However, you might find this helpful as a method of checking the skills and honesty of your SEO service. They should tell you the process works something along these lines:
- A full site backup. Whenever you make any coding or developmental changes, this is where you should begin. It’s common to see crazy, sometimes disastrous, things happen when you make what should be simple, straightforward changes. It’s wise to have a backup of a working website just in case.
- Set up the new website. This simply involves registering the new domain.
- Upload your old site. This could include dozens of files and databases. In some cases, hosting providers may do this part of the process for you.
- Check for broken links and errors. During the transfer, and especially if you use WordPress, plugin settings can get lost. So, you may want to do a double-check of your SEO’s work to make sure everything works as it should. Don’t get upset if it’s not working perfectly right. Some finagling is normal and acceptable.
- All URLs need to use the new domain’s address. In WordPress, there’s plenty of plugins that do this automatically in just a few clicks. If you have a regular HTML website, you’ll have to do this manually.
- Review your design. A move to a new domain is a good time to consider design changes. Don’t obsess over the small stuff, like what color your CTA button should be. Look at the big things, like your logo and location of your contact information.
- The old pages need to be 301 redirected to the new. This is what preserves the SEO value. The .htaccess file at your hosting service needs to tell Google that the old pages at your past website are now at your new one.
- Add to Google Webmaster Tools. Your new site needs to be on Google Webmaster tools. You also need to do a “Change of Address” which speeds up the process of Google indexing your new site’s pages.
In sum, you don’t want to transfer domains unless it’s absolutely necessary for one of the reasons mentioned at the beginning of this post. And, if you do, your SEO should recommend a process similar to this one.