John Mueller, the Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google recently posed an interesting question that I think most people ask themselves when they’re rebranding – how does changing your domain name impact your SEO efforts?
I was in this situation myself a few years ago when we rebranded our company from Fashion Metric to Bold Metrics and I can tell you it made me pretty darn nervous. John asked this question on Twitter and he got some pretty good responses from some SEO gurus who jumped in to share their two-cents.
Well it turns out that my trepidation around the domain change was relatively well-founded as most SEO’s agreed that changing your domain name would result in a loss of traffic. Of course this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t rebrand or upgrade your domain if you can, but it does mean that you might have to take a little step back before you leap forward.
“For the most part, SEOs agreed that domain changes carry a lot of risk and will almost always result in a loss of traffic.” (Source – Search Engine Journal)
What I think the article missed in their coverage of the topic is that in so many cases, changing domains means upgrading to a better domain. In the long run, having a better domain will make a major impact and is absolutely worth the risk. Also, while most SEO’s do agree there will be a loss of traffic, there are a lot of people out there who just don’t change domains the right way.
If you’re thinking of changing the domain name for your business, I highly recommend reading this guide from Moz that walks you through making the change the right way.
“Moving domains can make a tremendously negative impact on search engine rankings. This is because the major search engines use metrics on both the domain level and the page level to determine rankings. When a webmaster decides to switch to a brand new domain, they are resetting their domain metrics to zero whether they know it or not. Luckily, there are steps one can take to minimize and in many cases completely negate the affects of a domain move.” (Source – Moz.com)
While I was nervous myself when we change our name, the domain change ended up being relatively painless, the real work was changing the logo on all of our collateral, updating email addresses, business cards, bank accounts, etc.
The reality is, like most things in life, take your time to do your homework and make sure you’re taking all the necessary steps to make sure your hard-earned SEO transfers to your new domain. It’s not rocket science but it’s also not something you can just guess your way through.