Preserve Your Website’s Rankings When You’re Changing Domains

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How to Preserve Your Website’s Rankings When You’re Changing Domains

The importance of domain names remains undisputed and is still rocking as hard as ever.

There is a popular story among entrepreneurs and wannabe entrepreneurs today, and it is the one of “the grind”. Many successful people are ready to condense all their success secrets into “go out there and grind”. Not caring about “unimportant details” and getting the work in will pay off.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against working hard, but the devil still is in the details. And anybody choosing a domain name knows it. Some people postpone selecting a name for their business until they are forced to choose it. E.g. making a website and selecting a domain name.

This isn’t wrong. Sometimes, if you can’t answer the “the name” question right away, it’s better to set it aside and let it present itself. The domain name is essential. Even if you are already a fully branded business, figuring out how to translate your brand’s name into a domain name can still be challenging.

Then there is, of course, the question of choosing between the different, and others.

Making a website takes a lot of decisions to be made. Some of them come more naturally to people. Like some people have a vision of the website’s design and go with it. For others, it takes three days to choose the background colour.

But only sometimes does somebody escape losing a few hairs regarding domain names.

Why would you change your domain?

If you were one of those who postponed choosing your domain name until it was “Important,” you might have selected it on a whim and thought about changing it. Choosing a domain name might not be at the top of your priority list at certain times of evolving your business, but it should never be selected on a whim.

There might be stories of people choosing the first thing off the top of their heads and “getting lucky”, but I suggest you don’t take your chances. You may outgrow your name on the other side of the story. Maybe your business outgrew its own name.

If you started with a particular name catering to a small niche and you grow, venture into other walks of business that you want to change. This, however, is usually mitigated by starting other projects and diversifying. Another possibility is different technical reasons for changing a domain, like changing the hosting service or having some contract.

Or maybe the .domain got cancelled – that is a possibility.

Of course, changing the .domain can also be a planned business move to attract a bigger audience or establish a more trustworthy presence. And indeed, changing your domain is always an option with rebranding and similar marketing strategies. Some businesses buy extra domains to try and take over more space in the search engine ranking pages.

It all depends on the scenario. Anything can be a reason for seeing how fast the internet is changing and the culture in general.

Multiple Domain Strategy

Sometimes, a business might invest in buying a new domain (or domains) to improve its marketing strategy. There are many reasons for having more than one domain. In the “good old days” of Google, before their bots became responsible web officers, a website full of keywords was needed for good SEO ranking.

Back then, the algorithms weren’t so advanced to speak objectively. All you needed was to fill up an expected quota of keywords that a legitimate site would have, and you would suck up the SERP rankings. It wasn’t long before this became weaponized, and people started using fake constructed websites to achieve their goals.

You can understand why buying multiple domains sounded like an excellent idea for some. It wasn’t always just to get noticed but to drown out the competition. Google, of course, was having none of it. This behaviour was flagged by Google and penalized, and internet marketers entered strategic warfare with Google’s crawler bots. Luckily, today the dust has settled a little bit, and Google has a pretty objective ranking system regarding SERP.

At present, venturing into a multiple-domain strategy works slightly differently. First, you need to realize that this is a long-term strategy. If you are going to venture into a multiple-domain approach, you need to be ready to put in the work that is required to, well, run a website.

If you invest in a new domain or domain, you want them to be relevant and have a good ranking. And to do that, they need to strive for the best. The SERP competition is fierce, and we all know that, and Google bots are trained to spot those seeking the best and award them. So, to have a multiple-domain website strategy, you need to have two things: You need to have a good enough reason for them (enough material and resources for the site) and the ability to keep them both relevant and ranking reasonable.

If you run more than one domain, it is logical for you to link them up. Unless you are a spy or running a scam, you will want your pages to link up and feed one another. But it would be best if you kept an eye on a few things.

Domain Scoring method

Google has worked to refine its ranking system and built a system built on the concepts of authority and trust. It might sound abstract, but it really does work this way. Unfortunately, we are not a party to that, so we have to use other tools such as AHREFS, SEMRush or others.

Ahrefs has split its scoring into three levels:

  • Domain authority (DR)
  • Page authority (UR)
  • Link authority.

Together, they tell the search engine how trustworthy the site is.

Domain authority mainly consists of the “age” of the site. Google is keen on not allowing new domains to rank high until they prove themselves – which is a pretty good mechanism considering the amount of your first buffer – even if you have enough resources and great content for your site. No matter how strong your business is, a new domain will not blow up overnight – it just isn’t.

It can, but it won’t topple the previous leaders that easily.

ContentKingApp suggests when it comes to “Age and trust: keep playing by the rules and take great care of your website.” Your next obstacle is going to be link building

The general consensus is that link-building contributes more than 50% to SEO success.

All external links to your website are counted as votes for your website, passing on authorityrelevancy, and trust.

The most important thing about link building is that the link source (the page on which a link to another page is placed) and the link target (the page to which the link redirects you) have a similar topic.

This is how google bots make out if you are making spam content or are the links coming from a relevant source. If it isn’t coming from an appropriate authority, it’s probably doing more harm than good.

Redirecting to a new domain

If you are new to this, it might sound like the Google police hand out many penalties. But in reality, they are not overly strict.

Google guidelines (as well as the guidelines for their social media, like Instagram and Facebook) keep changing constantly. This is because people are trying to find easy ways – which is understandable. But Google is not unreasonable.

For instance, the “age” rule doesn’t apply to aged websites that are changing domains.

If you were running a website and needed to change your domain, you could keep your Google score if you do things right. They won’t leave you sinking.

If you are migrating to a new domain, the most important thing is to do your redirects properly.

When you choose to move to a new domain, it will take time for new habits to form among your users. You can do your best to put the word out that you are moving to a new domain, but you can’t escape the process. And you can’t be out there tugging the sleeves of your users.

This is why redirection plugins were invented a long time ago.

Redirection plugins automatize the redirection process. A 301 redirect is an indicator that says that the link you clicked on has moved somewhere else. The 301 redirect is a status code that tells the search engine that the content on the Requested URL has been permanently moved.

And the 302 redirect functions in the same way but regards a temporary content redirection.

A redirect sends website visitors to a live URL when the request has been removed.

This is important because many of your users will still visit your last domain.

And since they are, you can help them stay aware of their location.

Not only that, but as we mentioned earlier, Google will also “remember” your website if you use a 301 redirect. If you have already proven your age and earned the stripes, Google will remember and try to retain the ranking you worked so hard to achieve. It might take them some time, but they will follow through.

The thing you need to watch out for is choosing the correct redirect. You can hurt your ranking if you use a 302 redirect when you should have used a 301 redirect. And hurting your rankings is the biggest fear when redirecting is losing SEO ranking, so it’s important to remember that search engines react differently to these two redirects.

The 302 redirect is temporary, so it is set up so that it doesn’t pass all search engine points to the new website. The link authority and relevancy we mentioned early are transferred only within a certain amount, which is also reasonable. If you are moving only temporarily, you do not want to take all your furniture.

On the other hand, when it comes to 301 Redirects, it is proven to pass on around 90% link equity from the redirected page. This is where some people need to correct their rankings, even though their traffic is still on point. Google may pick up that the setup was wrong, and he will try to decide how to treat the redirect.

301 Redirects plugin

A trialled and tested redirection plugin is the 301 Redirects plugin developed by the WebFactory team, called 301 Redirects – Easy Redirect Manager.

It’s free, easy to download, and easy to use.

All you need is to choose “Redirect from” and “Redirect to”, keeping in mind what kind of redirect you should use. With the 301 Redirect plugin, you can choose 302 and 301 redirects.

Also, it allows you to manage bulk redirects with the Import/Export option.

The 301 Redirects plugin is one of the most trustworthy and praised. And if you are using WordPress as your hosting platform, it should be a no-brainer. It is developed to seamlessly work with the platform and is constantly updated without missing a beat,

In conclusion

If you are stressing about domain names or migrations, don’t worry, it’s normal. It is, after all, the main way you present yourself on the World Wide Web. Of course, not to put down all the other aspects like content and design, but your website address will effectively be your primary marketing tool. If you are thinking about buying multiple domains and executing a multiple-domain strategy, take a little time to plan it out. Make sure it is an investment that will pay off and that makes sense to venture into.

Lastly, use redirections wisely if you are switching to a new domain. Don’t throw away all your hard work to get to the rank you are at. Educate yourself and/or find somebody to help you with the redirections.

You can lose some domain, page, and link authority even when using redirects.

But all in all, all of these decisions can be made right if you know it all works.