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Shajith Ali
Shajith Ali

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How to change domain name without losing SEO traffic?

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While changing your domain is simple, it can have a negative effect on your site's search engine optimization (SEO) if you're not careful.

SEO plays a major role in the success of your website, especially in terms of visibility and traffic. There are ways to change domain names without any lasting effect on SEO performance .

Each website is identifiable via a domain name of the type

nomdedomaine.ext

. Domain name changes can occur for a variety of reasons .

Site owners who care about their SEO on Google are wondering what the impact of this name change will be?

  • Will this affect their site's SEO?
  • Will they lose rankings on Google?
  • Will they lose their hard-earned SEO traffic?

Changing a domain name has nothing to do with a change of hosting, a total overhaul or server migration in SEO, which are much simpler changes to make. This also differs from a migration following a complete overhaul of a site, which is a much more cumbersome operation, with greater consequences for SEO if it is poorly done.

The purpose of this guide and advice is to show you the strategy to adopt and the steps to follow to abandon your old domain name without penalizing your SEO work on Google and ensuring a step-by-step transition avoiding serious errors.

Why change domain name?

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There are many reasons for wanting to change your domain name, although it is risky if the domain change is done poorly, it can be beneficial on many occasions.

  • The company picked up a better extension , for example only the. fr was available and the company wants to use the freshly retrieved .com.
  • A business name change may require changing domain names to maintain consistency in communication or finding a better name for your blog.
  • A change in activity and the need to take a more evocative or less restrictive domain for new activities.
  • Resetting a bad reputation can go through this modification in order to no longer suffer the negative results associated with an old site or an old brand.

Even if a domain name does not contribute directly to your ranking in search engines (special case of EMD), it can influence with its name and its extension:

  • The click-through rate.
  • Trust.
  • More attention in the results pages.
  • More brand potential.

If the new domain used is not new and has been used in the past, hire an SEO expert to check the old activities of the domain and its link profile is relevant so as not to use a site that has been penalized or benefiting from a degraded image in the eyes of Google.

What steps to follow to change domain name without losing traffic?

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Save the old version of the website

The very first thing you should do before changing domains is to back up your current site . In case of problems, you can always go back if necessary. Ask your host or webmasters if needed.

Take a backlink inventory

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It is important to make an inventory of all the links pointing to your site and its internal pages. The most important backlinks are those pointing to your old website, coming from authority sources.

For the most important links, in terms of popularity and visibility, it is important to update them by asking the webmasters of the sites that make the links to update the URLs with the new domain name.

Although 301 redirects transfer most of the characteristics of the old domain and the popularity of the links received to the new one, the most relevant backlinks should not be neglected.

Migrate the site identically

The ideal when changing a domain name is to limit other changes. Keeping the same site structure and the same page names is preferable in order to limit the risks.

It's also important to update all of your internal and hard-coded links . This includes links between your own content, your media, JavaScript and CSS links on your site, etc.

A search and replace in files and databases will be helpful.

Add redirects from old domain to new

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Redirects are essential for directing visitors from the old domain to the new one . A redirect helps Google understand that your website content has moved to another domain name. It will update its index accordingly.

Google also understands who the old and new content is, to avoid duplicate content issues.

Setting up a redirect is one of the most important steps in your domain name change. All ranking signals will be transferred to the new domain, along with the power of links received from other sites.

Redirecting the homepage of the old site to the homepage of the new site is not enough. All pages from the old site must redirect to the new one, towards each other to ensure an efficient transition.

ancien-site.com

redirects to

nouveau-site.com

ancien-site.com/page.html

redirects to

nouveau-site.com/page.html

They will remain in place indefinitely on the old domain in order to keep the popularity transmitted by the sites whose backlinks will always point to the old domain name.

They can be done two ways.

  • .htaccess:

301 redirect with an .htaccess file.

Code to redirect a page:

RedirectPermanent/repertoire/page.html https://www.nouveau-site.com/repertoire/page.html

Code to redirect a directory:

RedirectPermanent/repertoire https://www.nouveau-site.com/repertoire

Code to redirect a domain:

RedirectPermanent/https://www.nouveau-site.com/

  • PHP:

PHP code to integrate into the source code of the page to redirect.

< ? php
header(ยซ Status: 301 Moved Permanently ยป, false, 301);
header(ยซ Location : https://www.nouveau-site.com/page.html ยป);
exit ()โ€‰;
?>

Create a custom 404 page on the old domain

For more security, if all the pages could not be redirected, creating a personalized 404 error page will encourage visitors to go to the new site address . A great way to point lost visitors in the right direction.

Test if everything works before going live

It is important to check if all the elements work before going online , both on the old and on the new domain. Recheck each step and especially that all redirects are operational and point to the right pages.

Notify Google of the domain change.

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Once everything is in place, it is important to notify Google.

Via the Search Console tool, follow these steps:

  • Set up the 301s.
  • Create the new site in the Seach Console and identify yourself as the owner.
  • Notify Google of the address change from the old domain to the new one.

Create and send a sitemap with the new URLs

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The sitemap is a map of your site that lists the most important pages on your site.

By submitting the sitemap of your new domain name to Google, you will facilitate the indexing of the new site and its consideration by Google. This is not required, but will likely help speed up the process.

It looks like this:

https://www.nouveau-site.com/sitemap_index.xml

Follow the indexing and positioning of the new domain

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Following these changes, you will have to follow the evolution of your new site carefully for several weeks in order to verify that all the processes are taken into account by the search engines.

  • Be sure to watch for 404 errors after migrating to a new domain so you can fix any broken links that may appear.
  • Monitor the positioning of your keywords and any excessive falls.
  • Monitor visits drops.
  • Track crawler activity and indexing of new pages .
  • Use a server log monitoring tool.
  • Follow the correct indexing by Google of new pages via the Search Console tool
  • Update the robots.txt file

Keep old domain active with redirects

It is important to keep the old domain with its redirections active for life if necessary . If your site is old, many links will continue to point to the old domain. Keeping them active will redirect visitors and keep the power of the links to transfer them to the new domain name.

Cutting these prematurely could lower the popularity of your site and cause its positioning to drop.

Remember to update with your new address

The name of your site is used in many places on the web and outside, remember to make the changes in order to keep harmony in your communication and not generate inconsistencies for your referencing.

  • Google My Business listing.
  • Social media account profiles.
  • Advertising accounts like Google Ads.
  • Communication elements.
  • Electronic signature.

You can also try contacting the webmasters of other sites linked to your old domain , asking them to change the links to your new site. Prioritize the sites generating the most traffic and the inbound links from the strongest authorities and the best metrics (trust flow and citation flow).

If you wish to entrust us with this work or receive more detailed advice on this subject, we are at your disposal.

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