If you’re purchasing a business, merging with another business, or are simply looking to buy a more relevant domain name, you’re going to want to know what changing your domain name will do to your SEO.
You don’t want to risk messing up your SEO ranking, and you definitely don’t want to make it harder for search engines or people to find your website. However, domain name changes are sometimes necessary, and for this reason, it’s important to know what happens to your SEO when you change your domain name.
Does Changing My Domain Name Affect My SEO?
The answer is yes… but with several caveats. Changing your domain name will affect the search engines’ ability to find you and scour your web pages. For this reason, changing your domain name is generally seen as playing with fire in the SEO world.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that changing your domain name will erase ALL your SEO progress in all circumstances. Let’s look at ways that changing your domain name will affect your SEO.
What Happens When You Switch Domains?
Switching domains is done for a number of reasons. Maybe your business just got bought, or you just bought a business and you’d like to bring it into your brand’s fold. In situations like these, there IS a way to switch your domain without worrying too much about lost SEO.
If you want to switch your domain, we highly recommend setting up 301 redirects. What 301 redirects do, in a nutshell, is push any website visitors looking for your old pages to new pages. Google recognizes 301 redirects as a signal that the “old” content has moved to a brand new page, and thus will be able to pass over any SEO value (or link juice) from the old content to the new content.
However, if you don’t deploy 301 redirects at all, your new website will NOT retain any link juice from your old one. As far as Google is concerned, they’re two separate websites. As long as your old website exists, Google will treat your new website as duplicate content. 301 redirects prevent this from happening.
Of course, there are situations where 301 redirects aren’t possible. You can only do 301 redirects if you still have control over the old domain and have content that can be accessed by using the same old URLs. For example, if you’re selling your old domain name to someone else and want your website to have a new domain name, you’re not going to be able to take advantage of 301 redirects. In this instance, you’re going to have to rebuild your links.
We recommend keeping track of your old links (you can see what sites link to you in Google Analytics), contacting each website that links to you & asking them to change over the links to the new content. Otherwise, someone else is going to snipe them!
Should I Change My Domain Name To Improve SEO?
In most cases, absolutely not. Changing your domain name to hopefully improve your SEO by including keywords in your domain is generally not a good idea. We don’t recommend changing your domain name to improve SEO. Of course, if you already have a domain name with exact keyword terms, feel free to use it. But don’t change your domain name just for that.
That doesn’t mean you should never change your domain name! If you are going to keep control over your domain, you shouldn’t expect anything more than a short term hit to organic rankings if you change your domain name. So, if you really feel you need to change your domain name, feel free to do so.