There might be many instances when you will be required to move your site to a new domain. May be you have decided to re-brand your company, or a change your entire website, or you want to move your site to a new hosting provider for obvious reasons. Moving your website can cause you great loss in terms of losing your SEO rankings and creating a negative impact on your site. Therefore, even when you have decided to move your site, it is necessary that you take practical and positive actions, so that you do not lose the SEO authority on the current site location.
To begin with, you can move your website by changing the domain name. Two factors play an important role in moving your website – Redirection and Google Webmaster Tools. Now, it is important to understand everything about moving your site because this will help you take the right action to move your site safely.
Redirecting is an important thing you need to do while you are planning to change the domain name. The 301 redirect will inform the search engines that your content has been shifted to a new URL. There are many ways of doing it. However, the simplest way is with PHP header redirects or WordPress plugins that help in automatic redirection. Make sure all the internal links should be redirected to the new site location.
Once you complete the redirection, submit sitemap of the old site in the search engines, by doing so your old site will get indexed and the search engines can notice the changes you have done in the old site i.e. 301 redirects. Also, complete “Change of Address” in Google Webmaster Tools to notify Google of your domain change.
Google Webmaster Tools
Now this can be a little tricky. It is not difficult to move your website by changing the domain name, but it is difficult to prevent losing your SEO efforts. You know the amount of time and effort you have spent in building links and customizing your landing pages to make it SEO rich. Changing your domain name can be risky for you might lose the accumulated value of your web address. However, there are steps to get rid of the loss by using the Google Webmaster Tools.
To use the Change of Address tool, you must be a verified owner of both the new and the old sites.
1. Login to your Google Webmaster Account.
2. Click on the website which you want to move.
3. You will be taken on the Dashboard of the old website
4. Click on Configuration from left sidebar, you will see Change of Address under the configuration. (Shown in the below image)
5. When you click on Change of Address, you will see 3 instructions, choose Add your new site to your Webmaster Tools account, and verify your ownership of it. (Shown in Below image)
6. Once you verify your ownership of both old and new website, again go to Change of Address you will see “Tell us the URL of your new domain”. (Shown in the below image)
7. Choose the new website from the drop-down of verified site list and then submit. (Shown in the below image)
8. Once all the above steps are done, Use the Fetch as Google tool to ask Google to crawl your new site. (Shown in below image)
9. You can also use Google Analytics to track your website.
After these steps have been completed, submit sitemap of the new site in the search engines. Then, keep track on Google Webmaster Tools account for your new site. Once your new website has been indexed, you will see list of errors occurred (if any) in the diagnostics section of the webmaster account. Monitor search engine rankings and traffic throughout this process, as any drops could indicate URLs that aren’t redirecting properly.
No matter what your case for moving your website is, you should give time to planning the entire thing cautiously. Even if this is your first time, there is no need to worry.