With fantastic new generic Top-Level domains like .london, .tech, .ninja, .plumbing having been launched or being released soon, it may be time to change domain names and get a new one that is more relevant to your business.
Why move to a new domain?
If the domain you have now is not the one you wanted â if itâs long, with hyphens and says nothing about your brand â then you might consider registering a new web address thatâs not only catchier but also more relevant to your brand.
Something like affordable-plumbing-repairs-24h.com may describe your business but wouldnât a 24h.plumbing or plumber.london be a better fit? Definitely! In addition, if you have a local business in London, for example, and want to build trust and raise awareness on your brand, a .london domain would be the best choice for you.
Why? Because 1. itâs instantly recognisable, telling customers youâre open for business in the UKâs capital city and 2. it can help your site rank higher for people searching for businesses located in London since lately search engines have started focusing more on local search. Find out more about the benefits of owning .london domains.
Now, moving a site to a new domain can be daunting. The fear of dropping in Googleâs search results is enough to keep many business owners, including you, awake at night during the migration process.
So, letâs see what you can do to minimise the impact on SEO and organic traffic.
1. Register your new domain
The first thing you need to do is to register or pre-order a new domain. There are over 1,400 new domains coming soon to the Internet so itâs impossible not to find one thatâs short, memorable and relevant to your industry. For example, if you have a catering business, wouldn’t a yourbusinessname.food or yourbusinessname.london work better than a domain on .com thatâs very long, difficult to remember andâŚ weird?
If youâre concerned about domain age, you shouldnât, as this ranking factor is not as important as it used to be. In this video, Matt Cutts states that you shouldnât worry about domain age very much but instead focus on creating great quality content as this is an important ranking factor.
2. Upload a âcoming soonâ page
Create a âcoming soonâ page on your new domain a few weeks before moving everything from your old domain to the new one to allow search engines to crawl and index your new website.
Google’s Matt Cutts explains how placing some content on your new site helps search engines understand that your new domain is a real website and not a parked domain.
3. Upload your pages to the new domain
Now you need to upload all the files from your old website to your new one. You can set a 302 redirect from the old site to the new one, although this is not compulsory, itâs just to be safe and make sure all the redirects are going to the right place; if the ranks donât drop, then do a 301 redirect.
To summarise, 302 redirects are temporary. So what you are doing is telling search engines to read and use the content on the new page but to keep checking the original URL first as it will ultimately be re-established. 301 redirects are permanent redirects from an old URL to a new one. These redirects tell search engines that the old URL is to be removed from their index and replaced with a new location. So, itâs the most search engine friendly way to redirect traffic and engines from an old to a new website.
4. 301 Redirect to keep rankings
A search engine friendly 301 Redirect (Moved Permanently) will not only send visitors to the correct page but will also tell search engines that the page has permanently moved. A 301 direct will thus transfer domain authority, visitors and also your rankings in Google, and can be used to consolidate link equity content within a site to provide a better end user experience.
These 301 redirects should be done for individual pages meaning that each page on the old site should be redirected to the new URL on the new domain. Hereâs how to do a redirect on any platform. You can also use these two automatic redirect generators: htaccessredirect.net and rapidtables.com/web/tools/redirect-generator.htm
I cannot stress just how important it is to take your time and ensure every single page is redirected properly. You can even use a 301 checker to ensure that everything has been transferred properly.
5. Tell Google you moved
Another important thing you need to do is let Google know that your old website has been transferred to a new web address. To do that, you can use the Change of Address tool in Google Webmaster Console. This works at site level, letting Google know that youâve transferred the entire domain and not just certain pages.Â Watch the video below to find out more about the benefits of using this tool in addition to setting up the required 301 redirects to your new website. Donât forget itâs also very important to renew the change of address every 180 days.
6. Update your backlinks
Now you should also update the backlinks from authority sites that point to your old website. Iâm not referring to all the backlinks you have but the ones that come from reputable sources. So, itâs recommended that you contact the webmasters of these sites and ask them to update the links and replace the old ones with your new address.
Googleâs Matt Cutts explains the important of updating your backlinks in the video below:
Keep in mind that your work doesnât stop here. After youâve moved to a new gTLD, you need to monitor everything to ensure youâve redirected everything properly so you donât lose any referring traffic or PageRank thatâs coming from old backlinks. Now, if you have your eye on a great new .london domain or any other domain, donât wait until itâs taken – pre-order your favourite gTLD now.
Got any other advice for moving to a new domain without losing rankings? Donât keep it to yourself, share it in a comment below.