There are many beneficial reasons to change a domain. They include:
- A more user- friendly domain name has become available being stuck with the organization, internet or business domain and there can be a reason to take it and move the site to a new domain. This is because communication domain can be easier for customers to recall and may reveal a greater level of credibility as compared to a business domain.
- When a business has changed and wanting a domain to reflect it: whenever a business name changes, there is the need to change the domain so as to maintain consistent branding.
- Wanting to consolidate multiple similar domains into one: When one business or organization has several sites that are delivering the same type of content, there can be a good reason to amalgamate domains.
- Being tired of a domain: getting bored with a domain can cause a change in the domain so as to come up with something new.
- Backing up one’s site totally and completely: there are steps to backing up a site and before attempting any major changes, there is need to carry out this backup of files and database as backing up a site will help to migrating to a new domain.
- Cleaning up the domain : if a new domain has been previously registered, one has to ensure that it is not carrying forward any ld penalties and checking out on outstanding issues, that is on Google Webster tools and check the manual actions page and if there are no issues then can carry on with the more.
However, if there is manual action, one will need to make necessary changes and submit a reconsideration request. Once this request is taken then one can move content over to a new domain.
- Moving content to the new domain: check on the impact of change on search rankings over can submit a subdomain which can however take up much time but gives a way to test out the process from start to finish without jeopardizing the rankings of the site as a whole. After moving content to the new domain, one has to be to 301 redirect pages from the old domain to the new one in order to make sure Google knows where to find the new content.
- Permanently redirecting old pages: to make sure Google and subscribers are sent to the new domain, one will have to set up a server-side 301 redirects in the .htaccess file which will indicate that one has made a permanent move to a new domain and that all traffic-direct and search should be sent to the new URLs.
Permanently redirecting old pages will avoid one hosting two identical sites. If the site has content that is different from that in the old one, the steps to take are; creating 404 pages for content that has no equivalence on the new domain and mapping old URLs to new URLs.
There are tools for setting up 301 redirects and they include:
The .htaccess generator-it gives the exact code that one needs to input in the .htaccess file.
Changing page URLs with 301 redirects
Simple 301 redirects.
- Telling Google of the new move: there is need to make Google aware of the creation of the new domain and this is done through:
Picking new site from given list.
Confirming that 301-redirects works properly
Checking that verification methods are still present.
Submitting the change of address request.
- Creating a site map: at this point, the focus is exclusively on the new domain. Google recommends creating two site maps; one with old URLs and one with the updated URLs. Once submitted to Google, the number of indexing of the new domain will increase as those in the old domain decreases till it reaches zero.
- Checking and updating internal and inbound links: while 301 redirects will ensure that internal links move to the new domain, eventually one will want to shut down the whole domain and at this point all the internal links to the old domain will break. Therefore, there is the need to replace all the internal links to point them to the new domain.
It’s advisable also to keep in touch sites that link with yours and requesting them to update their links on the new site.
- Watching analytics: at this point there is total from old to the new site. However, it is always important to check up on site analytics and Google webmaster. In the months following the change, check if issues arise and if they do, recover them in GWT under messages, manual actions, index status, crawl errors and search queries which can have notifications.
To make sure that this process runs smoothly, there is need to let followers ,subscribers email visitors know about the move in advance, avoid making moves during a busy time of the year and considering boosting one’s game when it comes to PR following the move.