Whether you're just revamping the design of your company website or rebranding and changing the name of your entire company, changing your domain name might be at the top of your "to do" list. But will it affect your rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs)? Let's look at the matter in more depth.
The Pros & Cons Of Switching Domain Names
In many cases, changing your website's address makes total sense. Your domain name needs to reflect your brand. Companies change and evolve over time and a website name from 2008 may not be relevant any longer. What's more, if you've had the same domain name for years, it may no longer be doing your business any favours. What might have worked originally in terms of search engine optimisation (SEO) and attracting visitors may be damaging your website's performance now. Using a domain name that's long, contains hyphenated words or has an extension associated with spammers could be harming your website's search rankings, so changing it could eventually improve your SEO.
If you don't plan this change properly, however, your site could take a nosedive in the SERPs, resulting in a loss of website traffic and sales, and you may never be able to regain the traction that you lost.
Understanding Domain Authority
Every domain name has a level of ‘domain authority’, which is basically a measure of how much Google will trust the domain, and this affects how high Google is likely to rank that website for any given keyword. BBC.co.uk has a high domain authority, so any article or new page on the BBC website will stand a very good chance of ranking well - whereas if I buy a brand-new domain name today it will have zero domain authority, and I am unlikely to rank for anything.
Abandoning a domain name that you’ve had for years for a brand new one could mean your website goes from having good domain authority, back to zero – and this will mean you will drop down the rankings.
Links To Your Website
One of the other factors that impacts your Google rankings is the number (and quality) of other websites that have links to your website. So if you’ve had your domain name for a long time, there will probably be lots of links to your website on directories, blogs, social media sites, etc. When you change domains, without applying the right redirects, all of this information could be gone, and all the links will instead go to a broken link.
This could result in error pages being delivered, and internal and inbound links breaking. Not only could visitors become frustrated and head to a competitor's domain instead, the search engine spiders may not be able to crawl and index every page of your website, negatively affecting its position in the SERPs.
Domain Change Solutions – What Options Do You Have?
One way in which to preserve your website's history, authority and link juice is to use 301 redirects so that anyone using a URL on your old domain will be sent to a corresponding page on your new website automatically. The problem with 301 redirects, however, is that it can take some time for the search engines to recognise them, so your website could drop in the rankings for a while and may never fully recover.
Another option is to simply start using your new domain name on your company literature and employ 301 redirects to send people who use it to your existing site. However, if visitors notice the original URLs, they could become confused, particularly if your company's name has changed.
The decision often comes down to priorities – which is the higher priority, the branding or the SEO?
Make The Right Choice Of Domain Name
If you're considering using another domain name, it's therefore important to get expert advice so you can be sure that you're making the right decision. Just contact us and we'll be able to help.
Image source: Pixabay