Changing domain name and worried about losing your precious SEO juice? Well worry not – even though the road can be rocky, as long as you follow a few essential steps, you’ll be as good as gold. Let’s take a look at how you can make this transfer easy and effective while also ensuring your backlink profile and general SEO power stays as close as it can be to what it was in the previous domain.
Step 1 – Permalink Structure
Before anything else, ensure that your permalink structure either stays the same – or, if it changes, makes sense in the new structure when compared to the older one. For example:
Would be transferred to the new domain as:
That’s the simplest way to maintain the overall structure, which is important in order not to confuse the search engines or dilute any link juice you’ve come to build through your current website structure. If changing it, make sure that it makes sense and double check that you redirect appropriately.
Step 2 – Maintain Internal Linking
Secondly, make sure that all of your internal links (an article linking to another page of your website, for example) stay the same. Sometimes when transferring articles, the links are lost or deactivated – this will cut off some juice from traveling and can cause SEO issues and ranking losses. Always make sure to either maintain or even improve your internal linking when changing domains.
Step 3 – 301 Redirects
Now this is a super important step – you’ve got to redirect everything from your old domain to your new one, letting not only the search engines know about the change and transferring your old backlink profile and SEO juice to the new domain, but also redirecting new visitors appropriately. These are the essential redirects you must do:
- Web Forwarding General Redirect
This will depend on the service you used to buy your domain, but the general idea is to make what is generally called a “domain forwarding” or “web forwarding”, which will let everyone – both users and search engines – that your whole domain has moved. You simply have to input which domain you want to point the old one to, possibly change a few DNS settings (your service provider will have a unique and simple step-by-step guide on this) and then wait a few hours for it to propagate completely.
- HTACCESS 301 Redirects
Now this is where you go more in-depth and redirect specific pages of your old website to the new one. This file can be accessed the “file manager” if you’re using CPanel and all you’ve got to do is edit it and insert the text below (in your old domain’s HTAccess file):
Redirect 301 /old-pagename https://www.newdomain.com/old-pagename
And you’d do this for all pages that matter to you. There are also other unique ways to make 301 redirects in HTAcess that can be useful for very large websites, as doing it on a page by page basis would be extremely cumbersome. To check them out, be sure to read this MOZ guide. Don’t forget their handy checklist as well.
Step 4 – Create a Sitemap on the New Domain and Submit It
Finally, when all the content, design and redirects are done, you simply have to create a new sitemap and submit it to the search engines to ensure you’re fully backup and running again. To do this, the simplest way – if you have WordPress – is to install the Yoast SEO plugin as it automatically creates them for you. Then, add your new domain to the Google Search Console (Bing also has one if you want to use it) and then submit your new sitemap URLs (Yoast will show them). Then, you’re finally done!
As you can see, transferring to a new domain while maintaining your SEO juice isn’t as difficult or scary as you might have thought – as long as you follow the simple but crucial steps above, you’ll be perfectly fine!