How to Change Domain Name Without Losing My Rankings
Change of a website domain and move it to another domain happens very frequently, due to different reasons. There are many types of domain migration that we will go through all in this article.
The most important factor should be considered when migrating a website to a new domain is to keep the website’s ranking on Google and move old domain SEO to the new domain. Otherwise, the website would lose most of their users and might be losing its Google’s rank.
Losing visitors and ranking after changing domain
If you have ever migrated your domain, you would have considered that it slightly affects your website ranking negatively. It is directly correlated with how you have complied with standards and regulation when changing your domain.
It usually takes a while for the website to get back on track and get its ranking back. For instance, in the picture below, a website domain is changed from HTTP to HTTPS. Like outlined below, the website’s ranking has decreased significantly and come back on its track within 6 months after changing the domain.
Though, six months seems to be a very long time for a website to get back its ranking. We, here at Websima, try our best to make the migration happen as soon and cheaply as possible.
The above image outlines a successful experience of migrating a website from HTTP domain to HTTPS with a temporary decrease in Google ranking, though in the long term, the website situation and ranking improved considerably.
Different types of website domain migration and address change
There are various types of website migration, re-design and address change that for each, a precise planning and following specified instructions are needed. We will discuss them more, below.
Changing the website protocol to HTTPS
Even though changing the protocol to HTTPS is not mandatory, it’s been frequently accomplished recently, as Google considers it as a positive point, so it will have a positive effect on website SEO. In particular, for websites that need users’ information to be entered in, such as ecommerce, changing to HTTPS is more important as the security level of the website will be improved.
Changing the subdomain or main website address
The other change that happens frequently these days, is to change from www version to without www version. This type of change usually get done during the website re-designing process. This type of change usually has the least effect on the website ranking, as the whole content and pages’ design will remain the same.
Migrating the website to a new domain
The domain change is usually done for the purpose of re-designing a brand name or moving to a more reputable domain. Most businesses do not pay attention to choosing an appropriate name and domain in the early days of starting their business. However, after a while, when starting to grow moderately, they will think about choosing a better name and domain. Under this circumstance, making the changes is inevitable. However, you should bear in mind that if the changes don’t be carried out in an appropriate and standard way, a huge damage is waiting for you in terms of Google ranking and number of visitors. Therefore, the information provided for you here in this article is absolutely important.
Domain’s TLD change
As a business owner, you might be thinking of changing your domain TLD from ae to com, due to some reasons, such as more trust from users or the tendency of users to consider com TLD as a global business in comparison with ae as a local business. Changing domain TLD from ae to com is one of the most frequent changes in website address.
Making such a change is not practically different from changing the domain name, as Google considers com and ae as two independent entities.
Changing the Content Management System or the Programming Language
Websites usually last for 2 to 5 years due to the fast changes in online trends. Once the time is over, re-designing the website along with changes in coding should urgently be considered. Joomla and WordPress are the most well-known content management systems in the world. They almost started their service simultaneously, however the better WordPress performance from SEO perspective, led to faster growth and development for WordPress. The search rates for WordPress and Joomla are illustrated in the below graph during 2004 to 2014. You may see that the migration from Joomla to WordPress has increased significantly.
This would change the web pages addresses and the old addresses will be redirected to 404 error pages. The most decrease in ranking takes place under this situation. We recommend you read “Create Your Website with WordPress” article to find out more.
How to change the website main domain
The change process for website TLD and website domain is similar, however to change the HTTP to HTTPS, the process is slightly different. We will take you through the process by dividing the whole process into five main stages. You should bear in mind that the second to fifth stage should be accomplished fast, within a couple of days at the latest. If your website is not registered on Google Webmaster panel, it is highly recommended to do it first and verify your identity to Google as the website owner.
Step one – To extend the old domain expiry date and buy the new domain
You should buy the new domain name and complete the registration and authentication process. It is very important to extend the old domain name registry for a long time, as having access to the old domain name is crucial to keep your SEO at its current level. To check your old domain expiry date you can easily check it on whois.com. You have to ensure your accessibility to the old domain name for a long time even before buying the new domain, as during the migration process, it might be forgotten!
Step two – Make the website up and running on the new domain
Most of the time, setting up a website is accompanied by other decisions to make such as change in host and SSL certificate. It is recommended to make these decisions on a separate time frame and independently.
Then, create a new host on the same server that the old website was on, as the facilities, IP and DMS should be exactly the same. Setting up the new website with different DNS (under special circumstances) would increase the risk of damaging your website ranking.
Once setting up is completed, make sure that all pages and addresses are performing accurately. In many cases, current links in menu, sidebar, footer and even pages’ content will not be updated and will be redirected to the old website.
Step three – Introduce the new website to Google Webmaster
Finalize the process of the new website registration process on Google and accomplish all settings including website roadmap, main domain designation, and creating the robots.txt file on the webmaster panel. Beforehand, check and make sure that all internal links and images address and files to be under the new domain address.
Step four – Redirect all old domain address to the new address
At this stage, all old addresses should be redirected to the corresponding address on the new domain. If you are using Linux for your server or host, you can redirect all old domain addresses to the new domain, by replacing below code into htaccess file on the main domain host.
In the code outlined above, enter your new address instead of olddomain.com and your new domain instead of newdomain.com. The whole code also needs to be replaced on old domain htaccess file. Also, you need to pay attention that if the new domain opens with HTTPS or www, you should include these points at the last line and enter the exact name that the new website is opened with. By using this code, all the pages of the old website will be redirected to the new website address. The only difference will be the domain name which will be changed. These instructions are applicable for changing both domain name and domain TLD.
Step five – Declare the domain name change to Google
Go to settings on Google search console panel of the old domain. Click on Change of Address. Then select your new domain name and click on Validate & Update. Now, Google will check your ownership of the new website and the 301 redirect and will inform you in case of any issue.
Once done, it usually takes two to six weeks for all old domain addresses to be removed out of the index and replaced with the new domain.
If the migration process is done appropriately, you would experience a 10% to 30% decrease in the number of visitors in your old domain search console panel. However, once the migration process is finalized, your rank and visitors statistics will get back to normal. It is worth mentioning that from now on, all statistical information will be available on the new domain panel. If you are planning to do that it is better to do it with a professional SEO consultants to avoid any mistake.
Would domain change of the website negatively affect SEO?
Website domain change in general, means to establish a new website! The process of analyzing and ranking may take a while to be finalized. However, if it’s done right and the declaration process to Google through Search Console is accomplished, our position and ranking will not be lost.
Is it needed to extend the old domain, once we have moved to the new domain?
One of the most important factors on search results ranking is the external links. By using 301 redirect and movement disclosure to Google, the current ranking and value will be moved to the new domain. However, if you lose the old domain ownership for any reason or the 301 redirect code is removed, the website external links would be ineffective. Hence, it is recommended to keep the ownership of the old domain as long as possible.
Is it possible to move the new domain to another domain after a while?
Changing domain names frequently, causes your links to lose their credibility and value. It’s recommended that in case of deciding to have a third domain, move both first and second domain to the third domain by following the instructions explained above.
Is it needed to inform Google about the change of HTTP to HTTPS?
The tool that is located in the search console panel, is for declaring the main domain changes. If your address is changed to HTTPS, you need to 301 redirect the HTTP version to HTTPS version and then, check the statistics and information through the HTTPS panel.