That’s right. By changing your domain from one to another without the appropriate preparation, you can effectively kiss your search engine ranks goodbye. That’s why search engine optimizers suggest only changing a domain when it is absolutely necessary. Far too often, businesses change their domain on a whim. Here are a few things to take into consideration before making any rash decisions.
How It Effects Your Website
When a golf course decides to transfer their website to a new domain, there are a few things that happen. Some effects are not a severe as the others, but nonetheless important to consider.
First off, when you move to a new website domain, you are forcing your customers to adjust to the changes. Whether they have your website bookmarked or just know your URL by heart, the change in domain can be confusing and frustrating for some, especially when the transfer isn’t done the correct way.
Search Engine Indexing Problems
The next big issue that comes with changing domains is search engine indexing complications. Time and time again, we see businesses change their domain only to have complications with getting found on search engines. When you change domains, Google needs a heads up, yet most webmasters miss this step in the transfer process. Once your new domain gets put live, Google and other search engines can become confused about what has taken place. While there is a workaround to abate this occurrence, it still happens more times than not when moving to a new domain.
Losing SEO “Juice”
Those of you that have invested in a search engine optimization strategy probably want to preserve all the time, money, and hard work it’s taken to improve your online presence. Changing domains is an SEO nightmare. Even if all the right precautions are taken, your site will lose SEO “juice”. What we mean by “juice” is the website’s authority in the eyes of search engines that has been built up over time. Reputable search engine optimizers claim that you can only maintain about 80% of your SEO power when redirecting to a new domain. That’s a huge bummer for those looking for optimal search positioning.
Is There a Right Way to Transfer to A New Domain?
Yes, there is, but just because it’s the correct way doesn’t mean it will cure all your new domains woes. Transferring to a new domain using the following steps can help reduce some of the impediments listed above.
Let Google & Bing know
301 Redirect every useful page
Give your customers a heads up
Google & Bing offer a “Change of Address” tool that should be used before officially making the move to a new domain. This will let the search engines know what’s going on so there is minimal confusion. This easy to use tool can save you a world of grief.
In a website's .htaccess file, webmasters have the option to redirect the old pages on your domain to their new, correlating page. Web admins should make sure all redirects are completed in order to minimize confusion and maintain as much of the SEO “juice” as possible.
This one is easy enough. Start letting your customers know that you’ll be changing domains a few weeks ahead of time via email and word of mouth. This will help avoid and unnecessary disputes when the time comes to make the switch.
When Is It a Good Idea to Use a New Domain?
There is obviously a time and place when moving to a new domain is mandatory. Whether it be that the golf course has changed its name or their offering, there are reasons for using a new domain that just make sense. There are also less obvious reasons for changing domains, such as to recover from a Google algorithm penalty.
Weigh the Risk vs. Reward
At the end of the day, moving to a new domain should be cautiously thought out. The best way to determine if making the switch to a new domain is right is to ask yourself this question: “Am I willing to risk losing business in order to use my new domain?”.