Rebranding and domain change can make you pay a heavy price for it if something goes wrong. Some businesses have experienced up to 80% drop in organic searches after this. For many people, it can be a real nightmarish experience. However, it should not restrain you from making the right decision. Sometimes, you have to take risks to chase stable, long-term growth. It can prove beneficial to you when done correctly.
Why switch to a new domain name?
At the time of booking a domain, you don't know how your business will rise and accommodate the new trends. And this can, later on, restrict your ability to showcase your products and services in the best possible way. For example, you start a sportswear e-commerce website, which becomes a hit with the users. However, after seeing its success, you may desire to extend your product range to capture a bigger market and customers. In that scenario, you will need to incorporate a broader term to reflect the real choices. So, changing your domain name can come in handy there.
If you have noticed, some people become so popular that customers relate their work with their name. They manage to create a strong brand identity for themselves. A proof of this lies in the surge of organic searches with their names in them. Since the brand building is a vital SEO exercise, you can also give this idea a chance. Plus, using your legal name as a brand allows you to extend your line of products and services as you wish without any risk.
Another reason for transitioning to a new domain can be its extension. For instance, if you have a .net, .org, or .co website, you may want to buy the .com version of it whenever it is available. This decision may have to do with the search engine rankings. Experts believe that .com sites get more preference. However, you should not rush in this case. If you are a well-established brand, it wouldn't matter what extension your website has. But it can be a game-changer if you are a small local shop. It will help improve your local SEO strategies.
In this context, it is vital to know that .org sites can be okay if you are a non-profit company, and .tv extension is also acceptable if you specialize in video content.
What are the risks involved here?
One of the immediate effects of this change can be felt in the areas of website traffic and SEO. It can shake all your optimization efforts and organic traffic. Hence, you need to be careful with what you decide to do. You can use specific tools to move traffic from your previous site to the new one. Also, if long-term growth is possible, you need not worry. It can eventually cover the loss.
Another thing is you may have to change your business email address after switching to the new domain. However, you would have to keep your old account also for some time to ensure you don't miss anything. Hence, it can feel a little inconvenient.
How to ensure safe migration from existing to a new domain?
After considering all the scenarios, one thing is sure that you have to take this step if it is most urgent and essential for your business. There is an inherent risk, especially if your existing domain doesn't have any technical challenges. As far as SEO goes, the loss can be higher than the gains. So, it becomes compulsory that you don't leave anything to chance. Here are some tips that will explain everything.
Audit new site before the launch
It can be a basic thing, but many people tend to rush or ignore this task. From website content, metadata, canonical tags, internal links, mobile responsiveness, data structure and markup code, website speed, photos, and menu, every single thing needs to get thoroughly checked for errors and quality. It can protect you from the short-term, adverse impact of the SEO.
For a successful domain migration, you have to pay special attention to redirection. If you choose wrong redirects or redirect all pages to one page, or do not do anything at all, you can experience a backlash. Also, avoid creating redirect chains when you can connect two points A to C directly. Otherwise, you can mess up with the website's loading time and the value of external links.
If the project is large, then you would need to work on priority pages first that get higher traffic, have backlinks, and rank well on SERPs.
Update internal links
Coming across a 404 error can be the worst experience for a user. That’s why redirections are critical. At the same time, you have to keep all internal links updated so that users land on the desired page only. It is an effective SEO solution also. It can be a lot of work, but it can deliver high value.
Set up Google analytics and search console
You would need data as soon as you launch the new website. For that, you have to ensure that you set up your Analytics account well. From adding the correct tracking code to all new pages to updating goals and circumstances that contain new URLs, you have to take care of everything. At the same time, you would need a new Search Console account for tracking performance, alerting Google about the new website URL, and submitting and testing new sitemaps that you would create. Once the new account gets active, your previous account will not work. So, make sure to export all the data of up to 16 months from your old account.
Audit website after the launch
After transferring to a new domain, you need to make sure that all the components are functional, including redirects. If you spot too many 404 errors, a massive loss of traffic, a drop in visibility in searches, and a higher number of Error Reports in console, then it means something has not gone right.
SEO experts usually recommend holiday season as the right time for changing a domain because you already get a smaller number of visitors. However, still, many things can go wrong due to the complex nature of this process. If you want to avoid risks, hire an expert SEO agency. For an idea about it, you can visit https://socialmarketway.com/seo-nyc/ - SEO firm.