Whether your site needs to be moved to another server or your company is rebranding and renaming itself, your onsite content needs to be precisely redirected to its new home. If your redirects are not properly completed, your new site will be riddled with 404 File Not Found errors, which can diminish user experience, leading to an increased bounce rate and therefore a decreased page ranking.
31 January 2023
Domain transfers and site migrations are some of the more delicate SEO processes. You can always expect a degree ranking fluctuations in the immediate aftermath. But, take the following steps, and you’ll put yourself in a much better position to bounce back strong.
Firstly, when migrating to a new domain, you must inform Google about the change in your website’s name or domain name. This can be done through the Google Search Console (GSC) by implementing 301 redirects to redirect all content from the old domain to the new one.
Migration to a new domain
Follow these essential steps and requirements to ensure a smooth domain move:
Verify the current domain in the GSC.
Verify the new domain in the GSC using the same account.
Notify Google about the domain’s change of address using the GSC.
Implement 301 redirects to redirect all content from the old domain to the new one.
Verify and update internal links.
Request Google to crawl and index the new domain.
Remember that it takes time for Google to trust the new domain and transfer trust metrics from the old one. For more information, you can refer to our blog post “The Price of Changing the Domain Name.”
Utilising the Change of Address tool in the Google Search Console:
Add and verify both domains in the same GSC account.
Access the Settings option in the left navigation and select “Change of Address.”
Choose the new domain from the available properties and submit it to Google.
You have now successfully requested a change of address with Google.
Implementing 301 redirects on the old domain: To automatically redirect visitors and Google-Bot to the new domain when they request the old domain name, set up a 301 redirect for the old domain name.
To perform this redirect, add the following Rewrite Rule to the .htaccess file for the old domain:
Checking internal links: If your internal links use absolute paths, meaning you included the entire URL and hostname for each link, ensure that all those links are updated by replacing the old domain name with the new one.
You can use the detailed evaluation of aHrefs to check your internal link structure. If your website’s internal link structure uses only relative paths, you don’t need to make any changes.
Requesting Google to crawl the new domain: To inform Google promptly about the new domain and enable indexing of its contents, submit the URL of the new website in the top search bar of the Search Console. This will provide access to the “URL Inspection” tool, where you can request indexing through the “REQUEST INDEXING” link.
Submitting an XML sitemap to Google will also support the crawling process. Refer to “How do I create a sitemap for my website?” for guidance.
Monitoring the domain move: During the initial weeks, regularly monitor the crawling statistics evaluation in the Google Search Console for the new domain. Google recommends doing this for 180 days, particularly for larger websites, to quickly identify any crawling issues that may arise.
You can also use the tools such as aHrefs to compare the visibility of both the old and new domains, which will indicate the success of the domain move.
A 301 redirect does not have a higher damping factor than links. This means that using a 301 redirect for internal and external links is a good choice.