Domain name change impacts SEO negatively, but there are ways to do it safely
The performance of websites for search engines depends mostly on the extent of digital footprint it generates. Regardless of the purpose of creating websites whether for a business like an online store, video streaming service, or just a blog the goals are common – drive traffic, generate awareness and generate leads and conversions. To achieve the goals, marketers spend money and time to hire resources like Golden Search SEO Company for boosting organic traffic. It can also help in pushing up conversions and implementing the best SEO practices that make the brand most visible.
During the journey, there comes a time when you might feel the need for enabling your website to achieve certain milestones that can help it to grow and bolster its position in the market. Re-branding is the first idea that strikes your mind. You contemplate about changing the domain name by choosing a top-level domain name that has the power to increase your digital marketing potential.
The effect of changing domain
When you change domain, it will make your brand invisible at least for some time, but the bigger setback happens from losing ranks in search results. However, the sudden disappearance of the brand is not the cause for the slide in the ranking, which occurs because Google uses metrics based on both page-level and domain level. Switching over to a new domain would mean turning the clock back and making a fresh start with the metrics from zero. But still, some people change domains with the hope of doing better SEO because this is very much possible by overcoming the temporary setback. There are ways of minimizing the damages, and by being careful, you can nullify the adverse effects and make a new beginning.
In this article, we will try to understand what drives webmasters and website owners to change domain names and what could get affected in the short and long term on SEO.
Why change the domain?
Let us begin by understanding what drives people to decide on changing the domain name. Usually, people would like to continue with the same domain name unless the situation compels them to think otherwise to fulfill specific goals.
- Not liking the domain name – People apply their best mind and consider all aspects when selecting a domain name. But website owners may feel that by changing the domain name they could bring about a change in their outlook or taste to enhance its relevance to the business and also make their position more prominent and distinguishable in the market.
- The domain performs poorly – Sometimes website owners attribute poor performance to the domain name although there might not be any real reasons for it. It is a type of superstition they develop and think that changing the domain name could turn the fortunes and improve performance.
- Change in business – Sometimes, business ownership changes either by sale or acquisition, or there is a change in business activity. To make the domain name relevant to the new business model or brand, it becomes necessary to change the domain name.
- Elevate to a top-level domain – The domain name of your choice was perhaps not available at the time when you settled for a name and later felt the need to move to a top-level domain name (TLD). When the opportunity comes, you change the domain name.
Challenges that await you on changing the domain name
Domain name change directly affects SEO performance that reflects in a rank loss. But it is crucial to understand the extent of the impact on the website performance or how much bad it can be for SEO.
All the good work that you had done vanishes without a trace – The domain name is integral to SEO performance. The links that you gather remain attached to the domain name in the form of link equity. The day you change the domain name, it erases everything accumulated in the earlier domain name, including link equity. You start with a blank slate again. The domain authority that you had built over time vanishes and the organic traffic dips significantly.
A massive drop in traffic – Changing domain would entail that you provide proper redirects during the transition phase. Else there can be a severe drop in traffic flow. The biggest fear is to make the audience face 404 error page, which can be highly disappointing.
Retaining the search rank – To make some of the ground lost due to Google considering the new domain for making a fresh in ranking you must be careful to ensure that you convey your website’s ranking metrics to the new domain.
Handle issues of duplicate content – There can be major issues of duplicate content arising from the canonicalization issues that the site must be going through, and this could start at the domain level. To avoid facing problems of plagiarism that can follow, you must address the issues of removing duplicate content by implementing a canonical URL extension.
The way forward
Indeed, the threats to SEO are many when you change domain, but this does not mean that you should never do it. There are ways of preserving the earlier gains by following Google guidelines related to migration which can minimize the losses. Strict adherence to the Google migration guidelines and tracking every change by using proper tools should keep Google posted about the developments related to your website. This will ensure minimal chance of giving away your hard-earned quality score and link value that is so dear to you. Changing the domain name is a challenging task that you must handle it with extreme care. Even the slightest change in direction can lead to numerous undesirable outcomes.
The secret of success in changing domain names without losing on the earlier gains is to keep Google and the audience well-informed about your move at every step. Intelligent use of signals like 404 page and 301 redirects will prevent any gap in information and make it easy for search engines and the audience to track the changes by discovering the relationship between the old and new domain.