Here’s an excellent guide to something you’d hope would only be necessary very rarely: changing the domain name of a website. How to Change Your Domain Name with Minimal SEO Impact: The 12-Step Guide for Rebranding Marketers on the Orbit Media blog suggests that you can’t change your domain without affecting SEO …but it also says that if done properly, traffic will come back to existing levels.
I can think of a couple of instances where this exercise might be necessary. The most obvious is a rebranding, where (for whatever reason) a company changes its name, and needs to change its website domain name accordingly. But another important one is when a company takes over another one (or buys in a product line), and pages from one website have to be brought into an existing domain.
The steps in the article include some that need to be done while building the new site, or the new section of a site incorporating a site being retired. Later steps are for the actual launch of the new website, or website section.
In order then, the guide suggests that we:
- Build a list of all of the high-performing pages
- Preserve the keyword-focus on those top URLs
- Make a page about the rebrand
- Redirect the old site to the new site
- Use the “Change of address” feature in Google Search Console
- Update your Google My Business account, Analytics, Google Tag Manager and marketing tracking services
- Update directories and social media accounts
- Reclaim as many links as possible