How to Change Your Domain Name

What's covered:

Whether you’re rebranding or shifting to a more relevant domain name, understanding the process pf changing your website’s domain name is crucial. This article covers whether you can change your domain name, its potential impacts, how to make the change, and answers frequently asked questions about the process.

Can I Change My Domain Name?

Yes, you can change your website’s domain name. However, this decision should not be taken lightly.

Domain name changes directly impact many aspects of a website, including your SEO, branding, email addresses, customer information, and user experience.

How to Change Domain Names

While every web builder or CMS platform is different, the main steps in changing a website’s domain are the same. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Choose a New Domain: Select a domain that is relevant, easy to remember, and aligns with your brand. Ensure it is available for purchase.
  2. Purchase and Register the Domain: Buy the domain from a reputable registrar. Ensure you also secure various domain extensions to protect your brand.
  3. Setup Domain Hosting: Point your new domain to your existing hosting account, or consider this time to evaluate and possibly switch to a new host if necessary.
  4. Implement 301 Redirects: Redirect all your old URLs to the new domain’s corresponding URLs to maintain SEO rankings and user accessibility. This step is critical and must be handled with precision.
  5. Update Google Search Console and Analytics: Inform Google of your change through Google Search Console. Update your domain settings in Google Analytics and other marketing tools.
  6. Announce the Change: Communicate the change to your audience through emails, social media, and other marketing channels. Update all digital and physical marketing materials with your new domain.
  7. Monitor Performance: Keep an eye on your website’s performance and SEO metrics after the transition. Check for broken links and monitor traffic, rankings, and engagement metrics to ensure everything is functioning as expected.

Impact of Changing Domain Names

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest things to keep in mind when switching to a new domain:

SEO

Changing a domain can temporarily affect your site’s search engine rankings as Google and other search engines adjust to the new URLs. Properly redirecting your old domain to the new one is crucial to retain SEO equity.

Branding

A new domain offers an opportunity to strengthen your brand if it aligns better with your business or audience. It can make your brand more memorable and enhance user perception.

Email Addresses

If your email addresses are tied to your domain, you’ll need to create new emails under the new domain and forward the old ones to your new email.

User Experience

Initially, users may be confused by the change, which could impact traffic and user engagement. Communication and marketing are essential to ensure a smooth transition for your audience.

How Long Does Changing Domain Names Take?

Domain propagation (pointing a domain to a new nameserver) can take anywhere from a couple minutes to up to two days. During this period, some users might see the old site while others see the new one.

How to Notify Google of Domain Change

It’s advisable to use Google Search Console to notify Google of your domain change. This helps in faster recrawling and reindexing of the new domain.

Summary

Changing your website’s domain name can open new opportunities for branding and market positioning but requires careful planning and execution to mitigate risks associated with SEO and user experience. With thorough preparation and strategic implementation, you can ensure a successful transition to a new domain.

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