The goal of a website is to enhance the visibility of a brand, product, content, or service, and webmasters know the marketing value of a successful SEO strategy. But what happens if you want to completely revamp your site – including the bold move of changing your domain name? How does this affect your SEO rankings?

It’s true that such a drastic change can negatively impact your search engine rankings and overall organic traffic. What happens is that search engines such as Google determine rankings through metrics based on the domain and page level. But when you change to a new domain, these domain metrics are switched back to zero.

Why take the risk?

So why would you, as a webmaster, risk affecting the rankings you’ve worked so hard to gain? There can be many reasons for a domain change, including change of business, merging of two businesses, a desire for a better top-level domain (TLD), or you simply just don’t like the current domain name and want a change.

How will changing domain names affect SEO?

If you are changing domain names to a new one and have sold the old one, you’ll lose all the link equity you’ve built over time, and as a result, your organic traffic suffers. If you don’t implement proper redirects to the new site, once you lose your live front page, visitors will only see the ominous 404 page and won’t know where you’ve gone. There’s nothing so depressing than being faced with this! It’s like visiting a vacant house that used to be full of people. Then there is also content duplication to consider.

Implement damage control!

Luckily there are ways to minimize the damage of changing domain names. During domain migration, your best bet is to follow Google’s migration guidelines and remember to track all the changes so you’ll know how your website is progressing. You can keep your old domain name and have it redirect to the new one, to transfer your existing automotive SEO value. And be polite and tell Google you’ve moved! You’ll find a link to “Change of Address” in Google Webmaster Tools. Google will then update your new domain in the system so your listings are now current.

Keep monitoring

Following the big move, keep checking that everything is redirecting properly and monitor any 404 errors. After the transfer your search rankings are likely to slip, so plan a launch event with a big marketing push to kickstart the ratings and get you back where you were! You can also do stuff like guest blog to get some link-building opportunities and plan on creating a lot of blog content on your site. You can even consider a PPC campaign to help boost your rankings.

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