Migrating To New WordPress Domain Without Affecting Its SEO
Often times we see people changing homes and moving to new places (for whatever reasons they have). Well, sometimes WordPress sites also need to move places which is, of course, changing their domain address. But why would anyone want to change their domain name? Though it’s definitely more comfortable to stick with your existing domain name, there are certain scenarios which make the switch more beneficial. For instance,
- In case your domain name gets penalized, switching might offer a better alternative.
- Or because of your site’s success, you can finally afford a premium domain name.
- New domain name might offer a much better deal than your existing one.
- Switching domains also play an important role if you’re planning for rebranding.
Now, you shouldn’t take switching your domain lightly, especially where your WordPress SEO optimization is concerned. If done correctly, this switch may actually help boost your SEO but if done wrong, you might lose your valuable SEO rankings or even attract penalties.
Ok, it might seem a pretty scary prospect but in reality, switching your domain address isn’t that difficult either and you can easily do it without affecting the SEO, provided you follow the instructions. What instructions? The ones mentioned below.
Create a Full Backup
Keeping a full backup of your sites is actually a good habit regardless of whether or not you are planning to make a switch. And for backup itself, you can take the help of tons of plugins and solutions available in the market. Some of these are BackupBuddy, WordPress backup to Dropbox, BackWPup, VaultPress etc.
Clean up the New Domain
This is an optional step for those who are using the pre-used domain name (the one that was already registered in the past). Make sure your new domain name isn’t carrying forward any penalties or other nasties that might steal you from your SEO efforts. If possible, buy yourself a new domain name, if not, check it beforehand using Google Search Console.
Transfer your WordPress Site
If you have linked your new domain name to a web hosting server, you are already much ahead in the switching game than the guy who just bought the domain. I know this because you can’t just copy-paste the stuff to your new URL.
So, if you know how to pull this, moving your site is just a matter of transferring your database and the static WordPress files. And if you don’t have a clue what I am talking about, you’re much better off with an All-in-one WP migration or Duplicator plugin.
Create 301 Redirect
Creating a 301 redirect will send the users to the correct page and inform the search engines about the permanent transfer of the link credit between the old page and the new page. When you create a redirect in your .htaccess file for transferring everything on a domain-name level, it will automatically add a 301 redirect to all your old domain URLs while pushing them to the new domain with the same URL. Since it’s a critical step, make sure everything is getting 301 redirected properly. If in doubt, use 301 checker tool.
Fix Broken Links
It’s not uncommon to break a couple of links within your content while moving your site to a new domain. For instance, links to internal pages that still have the old domain always return 404 errors. Another reason is the failure to fix any prior redirecting which may also result in broken links. If this happens, your one option is to update as many incoming links as you can.
Notify Google of Domain Change
Though Google will eventually find out the change on its own, notifying it on your end by filling out their official form not only makes the transition that much easier but also ensures that your site doesn’t lose any of its SEO rankings. You can easily do this by clicking the Change of Address Tool in the Google Search Console and following the 4-step procedure.
Submit New Sitemap
Submitting a new sitemap to Google in the next step towards successful migration. Don’t know what a sitemap is? Well, it’s a map of your site detailing various URLs to your content. Search engines get a screenshot of your site through the sitemap which is later used for indexing purposes. And you can easily generate it using various WordPress plugins.
Add your Site to Google Analytics
Lastly, add your new website to your Google Analytics account to get a new tracking code. Google Analytics not only provides you with a plenty of useful information regarding improving your SEO but also helps minimize the number of 404 pages. Eventually, all of this leads to an improved UX of your site while making your users and web crawlers life easier.
As you can see, there’s quite a bit that goes into migrating from your old to new WordPress domain. But with the right guidance and a little careful preparation, you can easily ensure that all your SEO related benefits are kept as it is and it won’t have any harmful effects on your business either. Just remember, as long as you decide to move forward, everything will be ok.