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The Power of 301 Redirects – Change Domain Names and Maintain Your Google Rankings

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As a website owner, there may come a time when you want to change your website’s domain name due to rebranding efforts or to make it more user-friendly. The key is to make the switch without losing any SEO juice that exists with your current domain. The process can be challenging, but it is doable as long as you pay close attention to several key details.

Why Change A Domain Name?

There are several main reasons why anyone would want to change a domain name. Businesses grow and change. Some business owners decide to transition into offering a different product or service. For SEO purposes, a new domain name might just work wonders. At other times, marketers simply decide that a new domain name reflects how people search for products or services.

How to Change A Domain Name

Should you keep your old domain and redirect to a new site, or should you just keep your old site? Of course, there are no easy answers. Often, it becomes a personal choice. If you decide to change a domain name and drive traffic with 301 redirects, consider the following tips.

  1. Check to make sure your destination domain does not have a spotty past. A new domain will always be clean. However, there may be issues when buying an old domain from someone. You can always conduct a quick check to see if Google has penalized the destination domain.
  2. Review your current website for its SEO soundness. Does it have a strong presence with existing backlinks? How does it perform for people searching for your products and services? Does it stand the test for being mobile-friendly? Is there anything that is causing, or will cause, Google to penalize it? Taking a solid inventory of your website’s existing SEO status can enable you to make a valid before-and-after comparison once you redirect to a new domain.
  3. Consider your present hosting situation with respect to site migration. The first step is to make sure you clone all your existing files. This can get tricky, even complicated. Never be afraid to seek the help of web development professionals who can show you how to redirect a website. A new hosting service will require exporting files and your database from the old hosting location to the new one. If using the same hosting service, there is a strong likelihood that your hosting service has already created a new folder for an “addon” domain. This would make it easier just to copy files from one location to the new location.
  4. Add your redirects from the old domain to the new domain. These will be “301” redirects. The redirect is the essential tool needed to transfer from the old domain to the new one. It is also an important step that can help you maintain your current ranking. A redirect also tells Google that your website has moved to a different property. You can always use a “wild card” redirect so that each post, file, or page will point to an exact new location.
  5. In this step, you can focus on telling Google about the new domain change. Google Search Console is the best tool to use, and it is free. Google Search Console is one of the most important things you can place in your SEO toolbox. Search Console offers some new features as well. You can expect to find improved graphs. The communication between website owners and Google has also become faster.

It is always important to check up on your work to make sure everything on the new domain is in proper working order. Watch out especially for 404 errors. These errors will occur when pages fail to redirect to their new destination. Be sure to check for 404 errors for the first month of owning your new domain. There are a number of tools you can utilize to make updates.

It often takes several weeks for these errors to manifest. Be aware, too, that your new domain may slip a few notches after the change. Plan for a slight drop in rank and field an aggressive marketing push after launching the new website. If you need an expert who knows exactly how to redirect a website, look no further. Advanced Digital Media Services offers exceptional SEO and web development services. Contact us today to learn how you can improve your online ranking.

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ADMS Paul Donahue

About Paul Donahue

Paul Donahue has been in the digital marketing realm since 2009. He has an intense passion for creating a dynamic digital presence for his clients through modern websites that rank well on Google. His company’s website is Colorado’s top-ranked SEO company. Author of three books published on Amazon, he is particular about staying abreast with the constantly changing SEO and digital marketing industry trends.

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