How to Move a Website to a New Domain
Moving the site to a new domain can turn into a lot of problems and wasted nerves. But if this responsible step to prepare in advance – with a high probability of changing the domain name will pass without significant consequences – both technically and in terms of SEO.
Possible Reasons for the Move
The need to transfer the site from domain to domain may arise due to various circumstances:
- The name of the company has changed. After rebranding, the owner address of the web resource may become irrelevant.
- It became possible to buy a more beautiful or relevant domain. Short and sonorous names are better remembered by visitors, and the inclusion of keywords in the domain name can have a positive impact on SEO. For example, if a keyword is blackjack online, a website owner can add it to the site name.
- The site has an SSL certificate installed and you need to switch to the https version of the domain. Search engines perceive one domain with different prefixes – http and https – as two different sites.
- Lost access to the old domain. This situation is possible if the registration was not renewed in time and the domain was repurchased.
Checklist for Moving
If you decide to transfer your site to a new domain, this short list of actions will help you not to miss the important points. What do you need to do?
Before the move:
- Check the new domain for search engine sanctions.
- Conduct a technical audit of the old address to eliminate bugs found.
- Change all the absolute links within the site in the relative links.
- Make a backup copy of the site.
- Prepare a relocation map for all materials that do not automatically change the address.
During the move:
- Provide the technical side – update DNS servers, configure CMS configuration, install SSL certificate, change links in databases.
- Configure redirects.
- Change the address of the site in Google Search Console.
After the move:
- Update analytics counters.
- Make a new account on the mail server.
- Create a new xml-map and robots.txt file, add them to the panel of webmasters.
Algorithm of Actions
Checking a Domain
When acquiring a “used” domain you should pay attention to the following points:
- The number of previous owners.
- Links profile – how many donor resources are linked to the site, what their DA, TF.
- The correspondence of the domain to the subject of your resource, the absence of doubtful and forbidden content.
- Lack of sanctions from search engines.
To fix the problems inherited from the previous owners, the domain can take from several months to six months. It’s important to learn the history of the re-purchased address in advance.
Buying a Domain Name
You can purchase a new address from your hoster or directly from your domain registrar. By 2022, most names in popular zones are already busy and unavailable for redemption. But since 2017, more and more new, themed zones – such as .shop, .site, .academy, .club, etc. – are appearing.
For each hosting service, the specific instructions for transferring a website domain will be different. For the move will require:
- Specify the DNS-servers for the new domain.
- Copy files.
- Configure the databases.
- Update js/php scripts and css files, if necessary.
Most hosts offer a service for a fee to organize the relocation of the site. In this case, you will not have to deal with the technical settings yourself.
Use parser programs like NetPeak Spider, Screaming Frog or Xenu to unload all the url from your old resource and from the domain to which you plan to move. Next, in Excel or a Google spreadsheet, you need to match the addresses for the migration. If the old page does not have a direct match in the structure of the new domain, redirect can be put on the main page of the category or on the main page.
Setting up 301 Redirects
For correct reindexing of the site by search engines and in order for users, having entered the old address of the resource by habit, could immediately get to the new – you need to establish a redirection in the form of 301 redirect. This will help a table of matching urls. Redirect itself is set up through the server file .htaccess or in the control panel hosting.
Changing Your Google Search Console Address
The first step is to add a new domain to your account. Confirmation is available by adding a record in DNS. The next step is to go from the page of the original resource to “Change name” and confirm the move.
If you transfer a site to another domain incorrectly, problems may arise – from the loss of positions in search to the complete inability for users to get to the requested resource. Therefore, the move should be carried out in stages, checking each action. In the case where the technical knowledge for the move yourself is not enough – it’s recommended to order the service from professional webmasters.