How to Change Your Domain Name without Losing SEO

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posted on: January 8, 2018

Sometimes we grow out of our domain names. The cute ideas we had in our early twenties are no longer applicable to the direction we want to go in. You might consider changing your domain name. If you are considering switching your blog domain, you do not want to lose all the referral traffic you established with your old domain. It is possible to change, but let’s go through a few things.

Domains, SEO, and Referral Traffic

You want to change olddomain.com to newdomain.com, but keep all of your content and stay on with the same host. Your brand is established with lots of engagement on social media, and a steady flow of traffic from search engines. When Google indexes your site, your posts and pages show up in thousands of results.

Your new domain has nothing established. It is as unknown as it can be. Using MOZ Scores as a metric, your olddomain.com could have a PA score of 40. Since newdomain.com is not even established, it has a Moz score of 1.

If you do not redirect olddomain.com to newdomain.com, it is like starting your blog completely from the beginning in building your traffic. You would also be duplicating content, which Google hates. Redirecting your site is essential to changing your domain name and not losing any traffic. Transferring your site will temporarily impact your search engine rankings and search traffic as Google adjusts – that’s okay. With this guide, you can significantly reduce negative SEO effects during your transfer.

In fact, from a technical perspective, transferring domains is easier than switching hosting accounts.

How to Change Your Domain Name in WordPress

  1. Before you make any changes, backup your content. I recommend using Vaultpress for regular, scheduled backups. (I use it on my own site).
  2. Make sure that your nameservers for newdomain.com are pointing to your hosting provider. In order to do this, login to newdomain.com domain registrar and point the nameservers to your hosting company.
  3. Login to your hosting CPANEL.
  4. Access the phpMyAdmin.
  5. Select your WordPress database. If you have had numerous installations, this could get complicated.
  6. In your site’s database, go to the wp_options table.
  7. You will see two options – siteurl and home. The values in these table should something like, http://olddomain.com. Change these to http://www.newdomain.com
  8. Clear the cache of your browser and wait a few minutes. The primary domain on your hosting should be updated to newdomain.com. You will also be able to login to your site using the same username and password as olddomain.com.
  9. Once your domain is working, you want to make sure everything moved over smoothly. There are two plugins I recommend:
    1. Better Search + Replace Plugin searches all of your database tables to make sure that the old domain is replaced with the new domain.
    2. Import External Images imports any images that are hosted somewhere else and brings them over to your domain and media settings.
  10. You will also want to make sure your WordPress Settings reflect your new address. Both WordPress Address and Site Address should reflect the updated blog name.
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