How to change the domain without losing SEO rankings
In today’s post, I’m going to show you a very interesting trick that I learned last year at Carrefour. This trick is for anyone who is thinking of changing the domain of their website and doesn´t want to lose the SEO ranking and organic traffic that took so much time and effort to get.
As you may know, changing the domain of your website might cause you many nightmares, affecting your organic traffic and web positioning very badly.
This is because each domain has:
- Its own SEO metrics such as PR (Page Rank), Domain Authority or Alexa Ranking among others.
- Characteristics such as domain’s age, social media signs, etc.
NOTE: Click here if you’d like to know more about this topic.
In this post I will try to explain, in the best possible way, how we can minimize the risk of losing organic traffic and web positioning in search engine rankings, changing the domain of your site and migrating all the pages correctly.
Register your new domain
The first step, undoubtedly, is to choose a new domain for your new project. You have two options when you choose it:
- Choosing a new domain: See here a trick to find the best new domain for your project in less than 3 minutes.
- Choosing an expired domain that Google considers strong: See more about how to find strong expired domains for free.
Load an ‘Under construction website’
You should load a simple HTML page that shows that the website is under construction. It is important to load a page at least a couple of weeks before you change the domain. In this way, we will allow Google to index our new domain and should write some content with a few sentences saying something like ‘a new website will be hosted in this domain’ to avoid that Google detects the domain as a ‘Parked Domain’.
Transfer parts of your website
You should start transferring small segments of your site. In my case, for instance, if I wanted to change the domain, I would start transferring the subdirectory germancabello.net/seo-tools. Once I check that this segment (subdirectory) is working well, after a week, we will continue with the whole website. Transferring it by segments could help to avoid serious positioning problems.
Transfer all of your pages
Upload all of the pages, images and folders from your old website to the new one. If you decide to change the structure of your webpage, you should write down all those changes in order to help yourself in the future when you make the 301’s redirects.
Permanently redirect all your old web pages to the new ones
This is without a doubt the most critical step of the process. Once the content is correctly updated in the new domain, we will proceed to redirect each and every one of the old URLs to the new ones. We should make301 permanent redirects and not make the mistake of using 302 temporary redirects instead, because 302 redirects don’t transfer the PR, Anchor text or any other SEO metric.
NOTE: Do not redirect all the old pages to the new home.
In the case of an ecommerce site, we should redirect:
- Old product pages to the appropriate new product pages
- Old category pages to the appropriate new category pages.
- Old home to the new home.
- Same with subhomes, intermediate pages…
Write down the changes in the Google Search Console
We should not forget to change the web address in Google Search Console. To do this, follow the next steps:
- Register both domains (the new one and the old one) in the same Google Search Console account.
- Go to Settings > Change of address.
- Now, we will check out that we have made all redirects properly.
- Check out that both sites are verified.
- Lastly, we will send the request to change the address.
Update the backlinks
We must identify through some tools such as MOZ, SEMRush, Sistrix… among others, the most important external backlinks pointing to our web. Although the 301 redirects will transfer the strength from one domain to another, I highly recommend that you update the most important external links.
Make sure that you have followed the previous steps by heart and be patient. Take into account that we must update the old domain before it gets expired so that we won’t lose reference traffic and domain authority that comes from old backlinks.
Do not forget to maintain these 301 redirects nor update the change of address in thee Google Search Console every 180 days. Don’t hesitate to ask me if you have any doubts!