Changing to a new domain can be a tedious process which should not be taken lightly. Usually, people avoid changing their website’s domain name due to the risk of a sudden drop in traffic and income. The need to change the domain name for your website may arise for many reasons such as poor domain choice in the first place, change in name or focus of the business, a better-suited domain being available now, or even damaged reputation. Though there would be many negatives but a change in the domain name if done correctly may be beneficial for your business in the long run.
Negative effects on SEO
Before going into how a domain name change could adversely affect your SEO, it is important to understand how SEO works.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Whenever you use a search engine, it ranks the relevant content based on many factors. SEO is the holistic process of increasing the possibility of ranking higher in the search query. High rankings can bring in more traffic, ultimately leading to an increase in income.
A particular website was designed and optimized for certain keywords, changing the domain name may take a hit on your SEO. If you simply change to a new one without redirecting, you would face downtime, which could result in a bad reputation apart from lowering your rank in the search engine. A search engine works on storing metrics for a particular website, shifting to a new domain would reset all the metrics affecting the website’s SEO.
However, most of the adverse effects may be temporary, and the new domain with a good optimization on the SEO front could well be on top of the search engine rankings.
Things to do to save your rankings
In order to ensure a smooth transition, a proper mitigation plan is required. The major ones are the following-
Auditing your website– Auditing all the metrics for your website, especially the inbound links would help you minimize your SEO loss significantly. You can easily do this by using Google Webmaster Tool. Auditing is the first step towards maintaining your website for optimum performance.
Backup your complete website– backup your website before any alteration using plugins available such as the Duplicator.
Redirecting through 301– Redirecting not only tells the search engine about the new dynamics but also redirects the user to the new website. Out of the many redirect options available such as the 301, 302, and 307, the recommended best practice for SEO is the 301.Change internal links– Apart from 301 redirecting, which only redirects the SEO optimized links, there are several internal links which need to be redirected. The good news is that there are a few plugins available to help you with it.