Need to Change your Domain name our quick guide
8 Steps to Changing Your Domain Name Without Risking Your Digital Footprint
Many domain owners at some point in time decide its time to change or upgrade their domain names. This could be for a number of reasons that you decide to move, but some of the more common ones are outlined below:
- A better domain becomes available or you decide to update your brand and change the name.
- You may have more than one domain and you decide to consolidate down to one domain.
- Your business name has changed and its time to change your internet branding to suit your new name.
- Maybe you are just tired of your old domain and fancy updating your look.
As tempting as it is to this you must not do it on a whim. You must carefully plan your move to the new domain, put in the time and effort before pulling the plug on a previously well-developed domain.
These 8 steps should ensure a smooth transition when changing your domain name:
- Back up your site:
- You will want to back up your entire existing site before you decide to make any changes or moves to a new site. Sometimes glitches happen during a transition so you’ll want to make sure you have a secure back up of your original site so you can get back online immediately should a problem arise.
- Clean up your new domain:
- You will want to make sure the new domain you are planning to move to is free of any penalties, you can continue with the move. If some do arise you will need to amend them and then submit a request through Google to reconsider your domain before you move forward.
- Move your content to your new domain:
- You can either move your content a portion at a time allowing you to test content piece with minimal impact on your overall search rankings. This can be very time consuming though. Or you can make the giant leap at once. This is what most people do as it gets everything over to the new domain as fast as possible. This can be achieved by using a plugin to assist in transferring the content or by manually transferring it to the new domain. If you are taking the manual approach you will want to have a cms in place prior to the move. This will ensure the basic framework is intact.
- Permanantly redirect the old pages to your new domain:
- This is crucial to completing the change from an old domain to a new one. You will need to set up a 301 rediect in order to maintain your search rankings. This can be completed by a small piece of code in your .htaccess file.
- If you are changing content between the old and new site you will need to create 404 pages for content that is not equivalent to anything on the new domain.
- Inform Google that you have moved to the new domain:
- Use Googles change of address tool to officially inform them that you are moving your domain. This can be found within the Google Webmaster Tools.
- Create a site map:
- You can use Googles site map.
- Generator or similar to achieve it.
- You will want to create a sitemap of your old domain through Googles tool. In time this will index your new domain pages and begin decreasing your previous indexed pages from the old domain.
- Check and update international and inbound links:
- Initially you will be using redirects to link over to your new domain, but eventually you will want to update the links internally because over time you will probably want to shut down the old domain. The redirects will no longer function.
- Watch you analytics, especially after the move:
- It is crucial to monitor your new site to ensure everything is functioning as expected.
- You can use the Search Analytics in Google Webmaster Tools to do this. You will be notified of any warnings, manual actions, index status, crucial errors and search queries.
And finally make sure you notify your customer base that you are moving; this includes social media followers and email subscribers. You will to inform them in advance, not the day of the move but weeks or months in advance This way it won’t be a surprise when your customers go to find you on the web.
Don’t forget update your print material, business cards and signage to the new domain name to ensure all your materials are promoting the new domain.