Change is hard, but sometimes it’s the right thing to do. Pointing your site to a new domain name is a change that doesn’t have to be painful if you do it right.
Perhaps your website has expanded beyond its initial purpose and the domain name you started with no longer fits. Maybe your customers have trouble spelling or remembering your name. Or you might have started with a name that was cheap and available but it’s time to upgrade now that your site is taking off.
There are plenty of valid reasons to want to move your domain.
Proceed With Caution
Remember, because your URL is “U”, switching domain names is not something to take lightly. Some companies have reported a drop in search rankings when changing domains. It takes Google time to index your website’s pages with the new domain.
Before deciding to switch domains, consider if there is another solution. Are people misspelling your name? See if you can buy the misspelled domain names and forward them to the correct website.
Once you’ve considered the other options still want to switch, here are some helpful steps that will make moving domains pay off for you:
1. Create a Site List
Create a list of all of the URLs on your website. For example, domainabc123.com/page1.html, domainabc123.com/page2.html.
2. Set Up Redirects
Set up a 301 redirect for each of the pages on your list to the corresponding page on your new domain name. This is important for telling Google that the page has moved to the new address.
3. Move a Bit of Content
Start by moving just some of your content to the new domain. Google recommends moving a small sample of content to a new domain to test any effects on traffic and search indexing. It’s best to pick a section with little traffic. It’s kind of like cleaning products that recommend first testing on an inconspicuous spot to make sure the product doesn’t ruin anything.
4. Pick a Date and Time
If all goes well in your test, it’s time to schedule your move. Pick a time that isn’t very popular for your site. For example, a business site might choose a weekend or late-night time slot to migrate domain names. You might also want to display a “scheduled site maintenance” message to alert and/or update users who come across your inactive site during the switch.
5. Let Google Know You Moved
After moving to your new domain name, you should tell Google that you’ve switched domains. You can do this with the Change of Address tool in the Google Search Console.
6. Update Your Sitemap
Once you’re done moving, be sure to submit your new sitemap to Google. Google also recommends submitting the old sitemap that contains the forwarded URLs as well.
Ready to Find Your Next Great Domain?
While switching domains can be a lot of work for established websites, it can make sense as your site grows and becomes more popular. Ready to upgrade to a new domain names? Search for a domain on Namecheap today!