Tips for Migrating An Existing Website to a New Domain Featured Image

5 Tips for Migrating An Existing Website to a New Domain Name

Now that there are so many options for top-level domains, your website name can be more descriptive and brandable than ever. For example: designers, architects, illustrators, and other creative professionals can describe who they are and what they do by using a .design domain name.

However, professionals who created their website before the availability of other domain options have a tough decision to make: do they continue to use their old-school domain, or make the jump to a new domain? 

Let’s imagine a graphic designer named Jane Smith with 10 years of experience. At the beginning of her career, the best domain name she could get was JaneSmithGraphicDesign.net. Now she wants to switch to the much shorter and more elegant JaneSmith.design. But how can she make this happen without losing all the traffic and search optimization she’s built up over a decade? 

Migrating domain names can seem like an overwhelming prospect, but as domain experts, we’ve compiled a list of tips that can help professionals with established websites take advantage of all the new options for top-level domains. 

Pick An Awesome New Domain!

Make sure your new domain is worth it! It’s a great idea to use new top-level domains that help your brand stand out. Top-level domains like .design are a great example because they include a relevant keyword within the domain. In our example above, Jane Smith gets the elegance and simplicity of a shorter domain name, while retaining the descriptive benefit of the “design” keyword. You can find more detailed tips about choosing a great domain name here

Do Your Research: Make A Plan

Don’t jump into a domain migration project without making a plan to get you from A to Z. Google has a very helpful guide to domain migrations that will give you an overview of what’s involved. 

Next, you should research the documentation provided by your web hosting/design platform. Most commonly-used platforms have knowledge base articles that explain the steps involved in migrating a domain. Whatever platform you use, follow their documentation carefully to ensure that your domain migrates successfully. 

URL Mapping and Forwarding

You don’t want any existing links on sites outside your control to become dead links after your migration. You’ll need to ensure that every URL on your old site automatically forwards to the most similar page on your new site by using a URL forwarder. If your web host doesn’t support this feature, you can use NameSilo’s Domain Forwarding service and select the Dynamic URL Entry feature. Detailed instructions are available in this guide

Use Google Search Console

Google Search Console is one of the most powerful tools you can use to improve your search optimization with Google. You can check the indexing status of your domain and optimize its visibility in Google’s search results. 

Here’s the trick: make sure you’ve verified your existing domain with Google Search Console before starting the migration. After setting up your new domain and completing the migration, you’ll come back to Google Search Console and verify your new domain. Finally, use the Change of Address tool to alert Google that the new domain is correct and give your new domain the best possible standing in search results. You don’t want all your good SEO mojo to go to waste!

When In Doubt, Ask an Expert

If you have a particularly complicated website, or your website is extremely critical to your business, you might want to consider hiring a domain expert to help you manage your migration. For example, an online retailer or other small business that does all of its client acquisition from an existing site will need to use extra caution, and in such a case, seeking out some extra professional help is probably worth it. 

On the other hand, if you are updating a personal portfolio site or you don’t have a lot of traffic yet, migrating a domain is a great opportunity for you to improve your personal knowledge of domains and search engine optimization — skills that will help you establish your online presence for years to come. 

Conclusion

We hope these tips are helpful for you, but please remember that this is not a complete or exhaustive list of steps to follow for migrating your domain name. Each migration is unique and affected by numerous variables, so it’s very important to research multiple sources before you attempt to do anything yourself. Think through your unique situation and your goals with the project before you dive in head-first!

Even though migrating a site to a new domain can seem daunting at first, you will reap the benefits of having the perfect domain name if you do it correctly. For JaneSmith.design, her memorable domain name will enhance her website, business cards, and email address. Search now to find your new perfect domain name!

About the author:

David Gold

David Gold is a Marketing Content Specialist at Top Level Design, the registry for .design, .gay, .wiki, and .ink. David is passionate about developing creative strategies for making the internet a more expressive and inclusive space.