If you are reading this article, you are probably wondering how you can change your domain without losing SEO position. It is one of the questions that our support team faces most frequently. Most want to change their domain because they have changed their business idea, they no longer like it or the one they have is not very memorable or they have simply thought of a better one, but they do not dare to take the step for fear of losing SEO positioning.
We are going to answer this question as honestly as we can and we are going to tell you, step by step, how to change domains without losing all the work done so far.
When should you consider changing domains?
You should consider changing domains when:
- The domain no longer defines your business idea or you have decided to do a restyling of your brand name.
- It is very unmemorable and people have a hard time pronouncing it
- The domain does not pass the filters and the browsers block it and the users cannot access it (this happens more often than you imagine…)
- You just stopped liking it or you have a better idea
Do I lose SEO positioning if I change my domain?
Google ensures that positioning is not lost , but some professionals who have made the change claim to have lost positioning for the first few weeks until Google gets used to the change. Later, if everything is done well, the visits go back up. .
According to Víctor Campuzano, an online marketing professional, “ A drop of around 40% in traffic for about 6 weeks is absolutely inevitable. And he looks at what I've read about to see if there was a way to avoid it. There isn't. Keep in mind that Google takes its time to materialize the changes, no matter how well you do it, and until then, it does not look favorably on you. Maybe 100% of your digital business could be in danger because of it, but Google doesn't care much. Deadlines are deadlines."
Keep in mind that this process is not immediate. For this reason, before making the change of domain, consider the possibility that, during the first days/weeks, visits may drop, although they will recover later.
The operational part will take you a few hours, but the results in Google will take a little longer.
How to change domain step by step
Step 1: Planning
The key to success is in planning. Before getting down to work, we recommend you take an inventory of:
- Backlink Inventory: Check the links that point to your website, and then check that they point to the new domain. Google affirms that it respects the redirection, transferring the entire “seo strength” of the old link to the new location. But it is always good to have the list of backlinks to check.
- Complete scraping of the website: with the screaming frog tool you can see all the links on your website, and later, with the change of domain, check that all the urls have been changed.
- Inventory of tools and automations: It is highly recommended to make an inventory of tools that you are using linked to your website so that after the domain change you can check that they are still working. For example, if you have a tool for newsletters and automatic emails.
Step 2: Register the new domain
It's time to choose a new domain. For this you have our domain search engine with which you will be able to know if the domain you want is available or not.
You have two options:
- Choosing a new domain : in this article you have some tips to choose the best domain for your project.
- Choose an expired domain that is already strong for Google. In this tutorial Germán Cabello explains how to do it. We recommend registering the new domain as soon as possible, even if it takes time for the change to take effect, thus preventing another person from reserving the chosen domain.
Once you contract the domain, you must tell your hosting provider company to make the changes in the DNS servers so that they point to the new domain.
Step 3: Backup
We always recommend backing up your website before making a major change. If something fails, you can go back.
Step 4: Perform domain migration in your Plesk panel
If you have a VPS service contracted with Interdominios, you can request the change directly to our support team via email [email protected], we take care of the entire process.
If your hosting does not offer this service, you can do the domain migration yourself. You have two options:
First option: 301 redirect
The migration is done directly from the .htaccess file with a 301 redirection (Here is a tutorial by Rubén Alonso) You need to document yourself well before doing any redirection via .htaccess as they can be very dangerous (if done wrong).
These types of migrations are performed directly on the web page through the .htaccess. In this step, the redirection is carried out directly, so there are no old or intermediate pages.
Summary of the steps to follow:
- Make DNS change
- Add the new domain to your hosting account
- Access the .htaccess file and add a few lines of code to automatically redirect the user to the new domain if they have entered the old domain.
Second option: Generating a new website (copy of the previous one)
It is about including an intermediate step so as not to do the redirection “in a wild way” and ensure that users will be able to see the old domain until you have configured the new domain. To do this, a copy of the original website is created on the new domain so that both web pages are operational until the entire process is complete.
- Make DNS change
- Add the new domain to your hosting account
- Make a copy of the web and include it in the hosting space assigned to the new domain
- WordPress Administration > Settings > General; change WordPress Address (URL) and Site Address (URL)
- 301 redirect from your Plesk panel
Step 5: Set up Search Console
Set up the new property (with the new domain) in your Search Console. You have to add 4 more properties corresponding to the new domain , to later request the change of domain to Google, in this way:
Then upload the new sitemap for Google to start crawling it all over again. If you do not know very well what it is about, take a look at this tutorial « How to create a sitemap and notify Google to index it»
Check web traffic with Google Analytics or any other analytics tool you use. Have you missed something?
Step 6: Check that everything is ok
Once the redirection has been made with one of the two options proposed, you must check that the domain migration has been carried out successfully and if there is any error, you must correct it as soon as possible so as not to lose traffic and SEO positioning.
Check and correct possible bugs in redirects. Make sure to test various links in different parts of the new website and see if they really work.
Crawl your page again with Screaming Frog and make sure that all areas of the web page are accessible and indexed.
You can use some SEO tools to see the visibility indexes and check that as the new domain goes up, the other goes down (for example Sixtrix)
Over time you will be able to monitor that new URLs are indexed and that old URLs are disappearing.
Don't do a domain migration lightly. Assimilate the steps that we have taken previously and plan everything before getting down to work. You will avoid possible mistakes.
If you have doubts, it is best to contact your hosting provider company. At Interdominios we are available 24 hours a day to help you
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