Sometimes a business needs to replace or change its site URL. The right skill level and resources along with the steps below will ensure that there are no changes to your organic presence and website indexing. Website indexing includes the keywords, metadata, and other content indicators accessed by search engines. SEO also has an organic component and while a URL replacement may temporarily impact search rankings, these generally return to normal in a short time..
Understanding the reasoning and processes behind replacing a domain ensures the best outcome.
Why Change Domain Names?
Some popular reasons for changing to another website domain relate to business offerings.
As part of the business life cycle, it may become necessary or advantageous to rebrand as an entirely new entity using a new name.
If an individual or organization needs to change URL, a prime consideration when choosing a new brand name, is the availability of an appropriately corresponding domain name.
A More Advantageous Domain Name Becomes Available
Timing is an essential consideration.
It is possible when a business first built its website, the exact domain was unavailable because someone already had it registered. Later, when the name becomes available, it is best not to hesitate. The opportunity to purchase may not arise again.
Once the site owner purchases and registers it, migration can begin.
Merging More Than One Website
When a business owns multiple websites, replacing a site URL may allow it to merge more than one. In this instance, site owners need to be ready to replace the site URL for at least one of the properties.
There are many other possible reasons for wanting to replace a website domain. The above are simply the most common. But regardless the reason, the process to complete the migration will be relatively similar.
What Is Required to Transfer A Site to a Different Domain?
First, the site owner needs to find and purchase the new domain.
Research potential domain names further on archive websites (like archive.org) to see the history. For an in-depth look, it may be helpful to implement a backlink tool. This process may reveal things like:
- Linking domains and SEO metrics
- Domain rating (DR)
- Organic traffic to page links
- Broken outbound links
By reviewing the above resources, you can narrow down the choice more quickly.
How to Transfer The Site to A New URL
Once you have secured your new domain, the stage is set to make the transfer. Those implementing the replacement process are strongly advised to take the time needed to fully understand each of the following steps before taking action.
- Back up all DNS records from the previous domain and ensure that they are mirrored for the new site (ignore MX records if email addresses are staying with the old domain).
- Re-create any subdomains that were used by the old domain (old.domain.com > old.newdomain.com).
- Update the A record for the new domain to point to the same destination as the old one (check that all subdomains are accounted for).
- Set up a 301 redirect on the old domain to send traffic to the new domain.
- Confirm that SSL certificates are still working.
- Monitor traffic to make sure there are no issues.
Things to Remember During The Migration
Take Small Steps
Even if a site-owner has replaced website URLs before, it’s important to take things in bite-size chunks to minimize the risk of error or oversight. In larger organizations especially, prior administrators may have done things in haste. Slower is faster when dealing with unknowns.
As each step completes, double-check and run appropriate tests.
Time The Migration Appropriately
Schedule the best time to migrate. That is generally a time when the traffic levels are slowest. The ideal time may be on weekends, weeknights or certain seasons. For e-commerce, after the holiday sales may be the perfect time.
Begin planning the URL transition well ahead to ensure the disruption is as minimal as possible to visitors or end users.
Prepare for Fluctuations
When making major changes to a website, it is possible (if not likely) that the website’s search engine visibility will experience some unusual fluctuations in the short term.
Following the best practices can minimize risk of this carrying on for too long, and rankings will recover quickly.
Things to Avoid in The URL Replacement Process
A URL replacement may have been a long time in the making. In all of the excitement, it may feel like a good time to make other transitions. It is vital to resist this inclination. In fact, further change should be delayed during and immediately after the migration process.
- Chaining Site Moves. If a site owner has just changed URL addresses from http://helpfulexamples.net to https://examples.com, it is best not to change it again too soon.
- Multiple Moves to A Single New Location. If a site owner moves all of their sites at once, they could cause both end-users and search engine crawlers to become confused.
- Changing Too Many Things at Once. If a site owner incorporates a redesign of the URL structure and actual move, this may cause confusion and result in lost traffic. Worse still, search engines could need to re-learn page content entirely.
How to Ensure The URL Replacement Is A Success
The steps to replace a site URL to another domain can be complex, especially for beginners. NameSilo is here to help. If after reviewing the above process, a site owner would rather have help from a professional.