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First of All, What Is a Domain Name?

The domain name of a website is like an address. It’s the main part of the URL that you type into the address bar when you want to visit a website, such as google.com. It also shows up at the end of email addresses associated with that website. Having a memorable domain name helps users remember your company and how to reach your website. It can also do a lot in shaping your branding and how people perceive your company.

Why Would I Need to Change Domain Names?

Redirects are useful in a variety of situations and help ensure a seamless experience for website visitors. After all, when a web page doesn’t load, not only are users unable to find the content they’re looking for, but they can lose faith in the quality and standards of a company and its ability to deliver the services it offers.

Rebranding

Whenever a company goes through significant changes to their brand, there is a chance they will need to update their domain name to match their new identity. While a new logo or design won’t warrant a domain change, a new slogan or company name could make the old domain completely irrelevant. Many companies expect a positive reaction from their target audience and a surge in interest when launching a rebrand, so making sure they have a domain that’s easy to remember is very important.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Domain changes often happen around corporate mergers and acquisitions. In these situations, companies might need to consolidate multiple websites under one new domain.

Legal Restrictions

With so many companies and organizations creating websites, it’s not uncommon for multiple websites to exist with similar names. This can go unnoticed for years, but if those companies become bigger, there is a potential for trademark disputes. When this happens, a company may be forced to change its domain name in order to avoid shutting down the website.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Many users find websites — and the companies and services represented by them — through online search engines, like Google. How a website ranks in these search-engine results can be vitally important to the success of the company. In addition to the content on the web pages themselves, the domain name can play a part in what search queries the website appears in and how it ranks in relation to the other results. To maximize organic traffic from search engines, companies sometimes include domain changes in their SEO plans.

Localization and Internationalization

When a company expands their operations into new regions or countries, they might feel that their domain name doesn’t resonate with the local cultures or languages of those places. In those situations, they might want to change the domain for part of their website to improve engagement and SEO performance in their new markets.

Availability

Sometimes a domain name that wasn’t previously available becomes available again. If a company had been waiting for that specific domain, then they might jump at the opportunity to claim it for themselves and make the switch.

Are There Any Potential Risks in Changing Domains?

For companies and organizations that are considering a domain change, there are some potential risks that need to be considered. With the right plan in place, these can be mitigated, but it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before getting started.

Impact on SEO

As mentioned earlier, a website’s search-engine rankings can be extremely important to a company’s success, especially if the company relies on organic traffic to generate business. SEO value is something that builds over time as more and more users visit a website, and search engines usually prioritize established domains that consistently attract visitors over an extended period of time. Therefore, changing domains often means taking a temporary hit in search-engine rankings. As long as there is reason to believe that the new domain will lead to better visibility and engagement in the long run, then this is something that can be overcome.

Customer Confusion

Domain changes can lead to a lot of confusion for users. If they don’t know that the domain of the website has changed, then they will try reaching the website using the old address. As a result, they might think that the website isn’t working or that the company has gone out of business. Naturally, this leads to a loss of business and trust in the company. Thankfully, this can be solved through marketing and website redirects.

Technical Challenges

Changing domains involves more than simply updating the address of the website. There is quite a bit of technical work that needs to be done behind the scenes in order for the new website to work properly. Links need to be updated, and in many cases, content (including images and video files) need to be migrated. Any company or organization thinking of changing domains needs to make sure that they can properly execute all the technical steps required.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Changing Domains

Ready to start planning a domain change? As with many large-scale projects, having a well-thought-out plan is the first step to ensuring success.

Plan

  • Make sure you’re clear on the purpose and goals of the domain change. Outline the pros and cons, and determine if a domain change is the right move for your website.
  • Whether or not you have a new domain name in mind, make sure you do thorough research to determine the potential impact on marketing and SEO. Put together a list of possible domain names and evaluate the likelihood of success for each one. Be sure to check for potential trademark issues, as well as possible localization issues in your current market or markets you may try to expand into soon.
  • Create a comprehensive plan that clearly outlines the steps required and the timeline you need to stick to in order to ensure a smooth transition.

Prepare

After doing the proper research, select your new domain name. Register your new domain with a trusted domain registrar. You can also go through a professional domain broker. Here are the Forbes rankings for popular domain registrars:

Make sure you’re ready for the technical requirements of the domain change, including web hosting, DNS configuration, SSL certificates, and email migration.

Migrate

  • Create a document that outlines all of your current website content, including web pages, blog posts, and media files.
  • Map out your redirects to make sure that every old URL will redirect users to the corresponding page on the new website. Doing so will make sure your traffic doesn’t drop and you retain as much SEO value as possible. This is where a redirect platform like SiteDetour can make your life much easier!
  • Transfer your existing website content over to the new domain. It’s easy for mistakes to happen at this stage, so pay close attention to ensure accuracy and proper formatting. Update any internal links so that they direct users to the new URLs.
  • Perform QA (quality assurance) to verify that the content was migrated correctly and that all links are working.

Spread the Word

  • Come up with a plan to announce your new domain to users. This is a great opportunity for marketing and promotions to get users excited about the switch and what it means for your company. Email blasts, social media posts, website banners, and a press release are all great ways to boost traffic and engagement right away, which will greatly help maintain and build SEO value early.
  • Communicate with all internal and external stakeholders about the domain change, including the goals, process, and expected results.
  • Reach out to online directories and listings to let them know about your new domain information.

Celebrate

  • Give yourself a pat on the back, congratulate and thank everyone involved, or throw a party — you’ve successfully navigated your domain change!

Let SiteDetour Take Care of Your URL Redirects

Whenever you change the domain name of your website, there is a transition period when you need to redirect users to your new domain. This ensures that users are still able to find your website and you don’t lose any traffic — and potential customers. SiteDetour does all the behind-the-scenes IT work so that you and your website visitors enjoy a seamless user experience. Even better, you’ll have access to in-depth analytics, so you’ll know exactly who is accessing your website and where they’re coming from.

How It Works

When redirects are set up correctly, the user doesn’t even notice that they’ve been redirected to a different domain. However, there are quite a few things happening in the backend in order for this to function smoothly. Setting up a redirect manually involves buying an SSL certificate, hosting the redirect on a server, and renewing the certificate on a regular basis. SiteDetour instantly handles all those steps for you, so you can have the redirects you need up and running within seconds. You can then monitor and manage those redirects with an easy-to-use dashboard that provides unparalleled flexibility and real-time traffic statistics.

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