Over the past few months, the Webnames.ca Support team has been getting a lot of calls and chat messages asking us to change the primary domain of their current website.
While most customers think this is a quick and painless procedure, the reality of it is nowhere close to that. Here are some common misconceptions about moving to a new domain:
- The domain name will change and go live immediately
- The content of an existing website can be easily migrated
- The email address will hit the ground running and contain all existing messages
Unfortunately, the reality is:
- You have to purchase separate web hosting plan on the new domain
- You have to migrate existing content from your old website to the new one
- Each email address will need to be recreated (under the new domain) and move existing messages from the old addresses to the new ones.
- Once everything is up and running, the previous hosting plan needs to be cancelled and a 301 redirect needs to be applied
From an SEO perspective changing your domain name is an extensive and laborious effort that should only be done as a last resort. However, we understand that there are times when businesses have no other choice but to rebrand.
Here are a few tips to ensure that the transition to a new domain goes smoothly:
- Edit and review all your links. Create a repository of where each page is located and all the links contained within the page. Take note where each link directs people and apply a 301 redirect to the corresponding page on the new domain.
- Create a sitemap of your existing URLs and the proposed changes. You can use XML Sitemap to create one.
- Maintain the URL structure of your page and apply 301 redirects, which inform search engines that the move is permanent and that any link juice should be passed onto the new domain.
- Update your information on search engines and upload the new sitemap you created so Google and Bing understands where each page is located. You can update your information on the Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.
- Update your business listing on Google My Business, Bing Places for Business and other relevant business directories.
While it’s impossible to say how moving to a new domain might affect a site’s ranking, following these steps can minimize any negative effects of moving to a new domain.
To ensure that all your I’s are dotted and T’s crossed, we recommend migrating your content onto a test environment first so you have a better understanding of the changes that will happen.
Interested in moving your domain? Try our free hosting trial. Call us at 1-866-221-7878 and we’ll help you get started.