After several years operating my blog under the ElliotsBlog.com domain name, I recently changed the website url to DomainInvesting.com and rebranded this blog. I wrote this free guide to changing a website url to advise others on what they need to do to mitigate traffic loss and to retain search engine rankings. By no means am I an expert on how to change a domain name on a website or blog, but hopefully you can learn from what I did if you ever need to change your domain.
The most important piece of advice I would give is to create a list of the things that are needed and share it with the web developer and anyone else on the team who will be implementing changes. If they don’t all work for the same company, be sure to send an introductory email and set up a phone call for them to discuss. Any issues that come up, should be addressed right away, especially as it relates to issues that could impact search engine rankings. All members of the team should be in constant communication before, during, and after the url change.
Listed below are the steps I took to when I changed the domain name for my website. As always, your comments are welcome.
Step by step guide to changing a domain name for a website:
Create 301 redirects to new pages – Working with my developer, Tia Wood, and SEO / interactive marketing agency Everspark Interactive, I obtained a list of all valid links for my website. The urls were changed to the new domain name, and all of the legacy links were redirected to the new pages via permanent 301 redirect. This was done to ensure that Google and Bing would be able to see that the the url change is permanent.
Fix error links – Over the years, there were a number of links within the site that stopped functioning for one reason or another. In addition, there were a number of outbound links that no longer function either. I worked with Everspark to identify these error links, and the links were either corrected and updated or completely deleted.
Notify Google Webmaster Tools – I informed Google Webmaster Tools that my former website would now be found on a new domain name. I used the change of address tool in the Webmaster Tools account to do this.
Create a Bing Webmaster Tools account – Believe it or not, I never had a Webmaster Tools account at Bing. Perhaps this is why I don’t receive much traffic from Bing. Whatever the case is, I created the account, added the domain name, and I uploaded the sitemap.
Change the Feedburner RSS feed – I went into my Feedburner account, and I edited the feed details. I changed the name, but I kept a mention of my blog’s name to avoid confusion. Over time, I will faze this out.
Change the Domain Name in Google News – As soon as the domain name change took place, I submitted the new url to Google News via the submission form recommended by Google. I am hopefully this will be updated ASAP, as I receive a decent amount of traffic from Google News links.
Add DomainInvesting.com to Google Authorship – Within my Google Plus account, I verified my @domaininvesting.com email address and I added my role as a current contributor. I have not deleted the Elliot’s Blog listing yet, although I will probably change it to past contributor.
Change the name on my Twitter account – If you follow @elliotsblog at Twitter, you probably noticed that there is a new Twitter handle @dinvesting. I chose this name because it was the least confusing of my options and it matched an available Facebook url. I don’t think it’s critical that they match, but it was helpful. Don’t forget to immediately go and re-register your old Twitter handle, lest someone else gets it.
Change the url on my Facebook page and apply for a name change – I matched the Facebook handle to the Twitter handle, and I applied to change the name on my Facebook page. They say it can take a couple of weeks to finalize.
Find / Change all old references within website – I went through my site and made the changes to Elliot’s Blog references on internal pages, such as the Disclaimer and Privacy pages to update them with the new brand name.
Logo and design changes – I worked with Theo Develegas and Tia Wood for the logo design, color scheme, and design changes. I relied heavily on their expertise and guidance. Everyone has different taste when it comes to the logo and color scheme, so as long as the website owner is happy and the colors or designs aren’t offensive, it’s probably good to go.