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The step-by-step guide to migrating your domain

When is it right to move to another domain? Should you move your website to a new online domicile?

Table of Contents

Key steps

1. Recognize when you need a domain migration

Should you migrate your website to a new online home? When is it right to move to another domain? We explain the circumstances under which it makes sense to move to a new domain.

2. Before you start: planning a migration

Before you do any migration, you need to determine your plan. In this chapter, we’ll show you exactly how to map out the procedure, recognize what you’re changing, and remain in control throughout the move.

3. Beginning: go on the internet with your brand-new domain name

It’s time to transfer to your brand-new online residence! All the hard work of preparation can currently be executed. However, numerous actions must be complied with to ensure a smooth process.

4. After the launch: monitoring your movement

As soon as your brand-new domain is up and running, you remain in the last of migration. It would be best if you carried out a collection of checks to guarantee that everything is functioning as anticipated and that your site visitors and the internet search engine are getting the desired experience.

Moving your website to a brand new domain can be daunting, but this online guide will walk you through the four most important steps.

If you do it right, your visitors and the search engines will understand the move. You’ll also be much less likely to suffer a long-term decline in traffic and all-important sales opportunities for your audience.

Domain migrations are a common practice. You can migrate to a new domain with a little organization, discipline, and technical know-how (which we provide!). All while making the user journey seamless and maintaining your hard-earned search engine optimization and traffic.

Are you concerned about changing your online address and identity? What impact can domain migration have on traffic and your rankings?

The good news is that proper migration is quite simple. Our step-by-step overview is developed to cover all the bases. Any migration will trigger variations, yet we’ll explain the procedure and make the change as smooth as possible.

You can do some things in one go. Although the process consists of several steps, it can be divided into four main phases. And we have dedicated a separate section to each of these steps.

When you need a domain migration

If you intend to move your site from one domain name to another for any reason, you need to set up a domain name movement strategy. However, there are some ordinary circumstances when you should consider a new domain.


293 Rebranding Illustrations & Clip Art - iStock

One of the most common reasons for needing a domain migration is a significant rebranding of the company.

That is a significant change that the company as a whole drives. Not only is this an exciting time, but it is also a time when you should be especially concerned about the customer experience on the new website. A domain change that reflects a new brand name and possibly a new message can cause problems for both search engines and your website visitors.

First, how will your audience react? If your visitors bounce from your site and run into the arms of a competitor, it will not only hurt your position on Google but also directly impact your sales. Your visitors must know they are in a familiar place.

Second, an online search engine like Google takes notice of brand signals – how frequently a brand name is pointed out and searched for. A rebrand migration must consider this by building a brand-new brand name track record and also moving as much of the existing authority (e.g., discusses on external internet sites) as feasible.

Change to a country-specific or international domain

4,192 Domain Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

Another everyday occasion for domain migration is switching from a public domain (like .net or .biz) to a more geographically specific one.

Take your country’s public domain as an instance. US,, or (formally called ccTLD or country code top-level domain) is preferable for many websites to target your local market. In some cases, this can also seem more personable and professional than one of the more unusual domain types.

A common motivation is combining multiple websites targeting different countries into one universal homepage. You can create individual languages within that more significant site (e.g., However, you may be operating several different domains and want to move them into a single top-level domain (TLD).

You can also tell the search engines which country you are targeting by setting a national target in Search Console; however, your domain name choice is an essential signal to the search engines and your potential users.

As a side note, for more complicated migrations that involve merging multiple country-specific sites or targeting multiple languages or locations, you should also consider using tags (unique pieces of code that inform a search engine exactly how to use the different language variations of your site).

Moving from a held service to your domain name

4,192 Domain Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

Domain-name. com. Commonly, internet sites start on co-hosted services, such as a blog writing platform or website building contractors like, Squarespace, or Tumblr. These usually live on a subdomain (a neighborhood of a domain name, each of which can function as a separate website) on that particular service’s domain name, such as the blog.

Updating your domain is a great idea and puts your identity front and also center. Once you obtain your domain name, these organized services will frequently take care of the moving process for you and instantly redirect web traffic.

Nonetheless, if you are relocating to your hosting simultaneously, you must finish a movement process.

When NOT to move to a new domain name

There are several factors to selecting a new domain name. Nevertheless, attempt to avoid doing domain migration concurrently as other considerable modifications. If you do:

  • Modify your CMS (material monitoring system or the software application you use to enter your material).
  • Edit the design of your website (appearance, visuals, logos, etc.)
  • Edit your content (the texts on the website)
  • Changing the structure of the website, e.g., removing/combining sections, editing URLs, changing navigation, etc.

Then it’s best not to migrate your domain as well. These are all significant changes to the site, and migrating the domain makes it much harder to complete the work and identify the root causes of problems.

Doing two or more of these jobs in parallel can help. If you reduce or stagger the work as much as possible, not only will the stress be reduced, but it will also be easier to complete each step correctly.

If you switch domains because your current domain is affected by a search engine penalty, the migration will not eliminate it. Many such penalties will move with the migration.

Related: Actions To Move A Website To A New Domain Name

Before launch: preparing a movement

So you’ve looked at the choices and recognized that a domain migration is a right decision. Now it’s time to buckle down and start your migration plan.

Migrating a website doesn’t have to be intimidating. If you have a plan and gather all the valuable data before you start, you’ll be in a position to succeed. That is the essential part of launching a new domain. If no one sees your new domain, it will not achieve your goals.

1. Examine the background of your new domain

Before you do anything else, make sure you recognize the history of your new domain. Has it been utilized prior? Does it have indexed content? Has any material been eliminated from it? Are there backlinks indicating it? Has it been manually penalized because of a suspicious task?

2. Inspect domain names in Look Console

Google’s Browse Console gives you detailed – and complimentary! – – Information about what it thinks about your site. Invaluable for any website but especially helpful for migrations. Claim and verify your new domain in Google Search Console (and, if possible, Bing’s Webmaster Tools). Also, check your current domain if you still need to do so.

3. Set up a waiting page on the new domain

Even a single page introduces the new brand or says “Coming Soon.” Search engines recognize when a parked domain comes to life, so an acknowledged presence eliminates any potential delay in transferring your rankings.

Add contact info and all kind of details to make it handy to anybody that discovers it. (Note: Yes, you need to hold both domains so we can preserve redirects from the old domain name to the new domain and also use the web server log documents to monitor when the old domain name stops obtaining hits).

4. Assemble a total listing of all Links on your website

Collect all the URLs you can discover. First, crawl your internet site to locate all the URLs that Google would see. After that, utilize your CMS to detail all the URLs (if it has the choice), accumulate information from Google Analytics, and even outside devices that reveal all your pages that other sites have linked to (see some choices below).

You can use this master URL list to measure your redirects’ success and the site’s performance after migration. If you run pay-per-click campaigns (e.g., Google AdWords), you should also list all the display URLs you use. We strive to create as comprehensive a list as possible.

5. Check the current website

Based on your crawl and using tools like Search Console, identify any errors that should fix before migration.

Next, look for existing redirects, references to non-existent pages (called 404 errors), and soft 404 errors that are reported. You will need these later for mapping, but now you should decide if old URLs that lead to errors must be redirected or if they must be marked as removed.

6. Collect all external links pointing to your domain

Not only does this help identify all of your URLs, but we also want to identify our most important external links.

7. Benchmarking your current performance (rankings)

To know how successful the transition was, we must know how well we are doing now. That means we need to know all the search terms your old domain is currently showing up for. There are two parts to this.

First, we want to measure the rankings and visibility of the site right now. If you do not already have one set up, tools like Sistrix, SearchMetrics, SEMrush, and several others are readily available. Google’s Search Console also includes much data concerning the search phrases you appear for. However, you can download and install a restricted quantity.

Using rank-tracking software to monitor your target keywords, you should also evaluate them and pay particular attention to which URLs rank for your most important phrases.

8. Benchmarking your current performance (traffic)

Second, we want to evaluate the performance of our content to understand which pages are generating the most organic traffic.

Create a spreadsheet with your analytics package data to track visits, sessions, conversions, bounce rates, and anything essential to your site for each URL.

While you don’t have to track years of data, ensure you obtain a large sufficient sample to be significant. We can likewise determine a few of our search efficiency information through Look Console, such as natural impressions and clicks.

9. Procedure for your current performance (indexation)

Make a note in the Search Console (and Bing Webmaster Equipment) of how many URLs are indexed. Likewise, send an XML sitemap if you still need to do so to see how many of the Links you believe have been indexed are matching (or boosting) the new domain.

10. Prepare pay-per-click advertisements for your most crucial keyword phrases

If the transition takes some time, you should have a backup plan to be noticeable for the terms necessary to the site to make up for any shortages.

11. Create a sitemap for the new domain

An XML sitemap is a file that enables us to share all the essential URLs directly with anyone that reviews it. We will submit this file to the search engines when the brand-new site is online.

12. Produce a personalized 404 (page not located) web page for the current domain

That should suggest visiting the new domain and being ready to start the migration.

13. Link your redirects

Map your existing URLs to new ones. Your URLs will often stay the same, with the brand-new domain name in position. For example, HTTP: www.olddomain/ about-us will indeed become HTTP:www.newdomain/about-us.

However, you might also remove some pages on this occasion, and if your planning has revealed site errors (e.g., 404s) or existing redirects (see above), you will need to decide where to redirect these old URLs. That can be a detailed task, so be patient!

Then you can develop XML sitemaps for both the old URLs from your map and the destination Links on the new domain name that is preparing to go.

14. Prevent the brand-new site from being indexed before it’s ready

In addition to your touchdown page, we intend to prevent the new domain name from being indexed (we desire the online search engine only to think about one website at once) by blocking all crawlers.

You can do that using your robots.txt file (which we use to advise internet robots or crawlers) and meta=noindex tags (which inform search engines not to include a web page in their internet index) on each web page. You can also secure the new website with a password.

15. Create and test redirects

We must use 301 redirects – an instruction we add to our server to tell someone requesting a page that has moved where to go instead. You’re telling search engines, everyone else who understands them, and – from the user’s perspective – your customers that the brand-new domain page has changed the old one. In the case of search engines, they are additionally instructed to transfer all approvals connected with the old URL to the new one.

If you’re moving to a new domain with duplicate URLs, you can create a domain-wide redirect rule that covers all uses of the old domain. That is simple and requires only a little familiarization with your server’s usage. In an advancement setting, test the redirects you want to establish.

You can examine redirects utilizing a crawler device, online devices, or the Fetch as Google device in Look Console. Ideally, there should be a solitary 1:1 redirect, with just one action between the old and brand-new links. Likewise, check the internal web links on the website with the new domain name – are they supposed to be absolute links (consisting of the entire domain) pointing to the old domain name?

16. Check the Google Analytics tag

To maintain the data, we need to ensure that the tagging from Google Analytics (or the analytics package of your choice) is seamlessly and fully maintained on the new domain. Check the development version of the website before launching. Even if it’s the same website, we want to be sure that essential elements like our GA code have been retained.

Launch: go live with your new domain

The exciting part! This phase is where all the hard work of your planning comes together.

There are several essential elements to implement during the launch process. Doing these regularly and deliberately will help you recognize when things are going wrong and keep you in control!

1. Launch the new domain

Publish your site under the new domain (which will likely be similar to the present site, with upgraded interior links).

2. Open up the new domain for the company

Get rid of the password security, the meta robots’ no-index tags, and the line that bans accessibility in the robots.txt data. Currently, everyone (particularly the online search engine) can creep the site and see your web content!

Put your 301 redirects into operation on your original domain. These are 1:1 redirects for every initial URL, consisting of those that have been rerouted. All old redirects now direct directly to the new domain as opposed to with a second URL on the old domain name.

Any redirects for URLs that you deleted as part of your site cleanup should also be active at this time. Sometimes it’s impossible to create 1:1 redirects, and the entire domain is redirected to the corresponding URL on the new domain. That is less optimal, but it still works in most cases!

While you’re at it, test the new domain arrangement also – do URLs with uppercase letters reroute to lowercase versions? If you use the www. subdomain, are you 301 redirecting the non-WWW versions of your URLs to the www. version?

3. Use Google’s change of address tool

There’s a handy feature in the Search Console called the Change of Address tool. It does what you suspect – it tells Google that this domain has now moved to another one. To do this, you need to verify both domains (see Step 2 if you wish to understand more about how to validate your website with Look Console).

4. Encourage Google to verify your new domain

In Search Console, use the “Fetch as a Googlebot” tool for your homepage and critical URLs. First, ensure the page renders correctly (i.e., Google sees the page as your human visitors would see it). Then, use the Submit to Index option for that URL to request that Google index the page.

5. Submit your XML sitemaps

Submit your XML sitemap to Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools as well. That will cause Google and Bing to crawl (and hopefully rank and index) all the URLs it contains.

You will also see how many of those pages are indexed, which should increase in the first few days after the migration, hopefully to a number similar to the old domain. You can also submit (or resubmit if it hasn’t changed) the XML sitemap we created for your old domain. That should encourage the search engines to crawl the old URLs, see the 301 redirects and visit your new domain.

6. Examination of your redirects

Using your crawling device from the testing stage, get into the listing of all Links from your old domain and creep them. Utilize the crawler software application to ensure that every URL is effectively rerouted to the new domain.

If your software program enables it, look for redirect chains, that is, the number of redirects each demand goes through before landing on the final link. There need to be as few as possible, preferably just one step.

7. Review, rename, and comment on Google Analytics

Go to your Google Analytics account and use the real-time reports to ensure your analytics are working correctly. Then add an annotation to note when initiated the migration (so you can see how it affects your traffic) and rename the profiles and views accordingly.

8. Update external links

Remember those critical external links we identified earlier? Now is the time to move them to the new domain.

Any other web links you can transform, such as social profiles, should also be changed now. Speaking of social networks, make sure all the share buttons on your site use your new domain!

After the launch: monitoring your migration

The new domain is live! Our migration is complete!

Take it easy. We’re close, but we’re still going. Once the dust settles, there are a few tasks to remember as part of the migration process.

We want to review the progress of our migration periodically – how has it influenced our web traffic and conversions? Exactly how are the online search engine dealing with the new domain?

1. Create new links to the new domain

To encourage the search engines to crawl the new domain and increase its authority, we need to create new promotions for your site.

This way, we will get new links found and crawled by Google and co. PR around the new website/branding is a good start, but many methods exist to build links to a new website.

2. Monitor indexing numbers

Use the Sitemaps and Index Status tools in Search Console to regularly check how many of your URLs are being indexed by Google. If you have Bing Webmaster Tools set up, you can also see how many of your pages have been added to the index.

3. Crawl the new website for errors

Check your brand-new domain regularly for mistakes or problems that site visitors or internet search engines could discover. The best method is to utilize the many tools available to crawl your site and proactively seek troubles. That will allow you to mimic exactly how a search engine might encounter problems.

Also, for the first few weeks, read the “Crawl Errors” report in Search Console daily to see what issues Google suggests you fix. That is free information from the search engine giant about domain crawling problems and what it thinks you can do to boost your SEO.

4. Examine your rankings and exposure

Check how well the new domain ranks for your target keywords using the benchmarks we created during the planning phase. Run these tests as often as possible (different tools have different thresholds). Also, utilize visibility tools to see how it executes and compare it to your old domain.

If all goes well, you’ll see an overlap in your charts when the new domain replaces the old one. You can also compare at the URL level. Watch when the versions replace the most visible URLs of the old domain.

5. Traffic and sales

Of course, our most important indicator of success is traffic and conversions (when someone takes action we want them to take on the site, such as getting something or registering for your newsletter).

With all migrations, there is some turbulence, but if you’ve been diligent about this process, you have the best chance of things getting back to normal as quickly as possible (usually 4-12 weeks). Pay particular attention to the individual URLs performing well before: Is the performance comparable before and after the migration?

6. Maintain your redirects

We want to maintain our redirects until all activity for the old domain is discontinued (which can take many months). Once the site stops generating links, social shares, and traffic, we may consider removing them.

A superb way to check is to assess your web server logs. As soon as you can see that Google is no more seeing your old domain (which you can likewise partly see in the Crawl Stats record in Browse Console), you might feel secure to disable your redirects or modify the 1:1 redirects to a basic site-wide redirect.

However, we recommend you keep your redirects permanent to ensure that all visitors always end up in the right place!


Remember: even if your website’s web content stays the same (presuming you do not do a domain name AND a layout movement simultaneously), Google will undoubtedly treat it for what it is: a brand-new identity.

While doing so, there will certainly constantly be bumps as well as modifications in positions and, hence, web traffic. However, a movement and redirection approach is the most effective method to secure the financial investment you’ve made in your website – every one of its awareness, website traffic, and authority with an online search engine.

This process may seem lengthy, but you should not take it lightly. The technical work is often manageable – planning, monitoring, and informing your audience of the change takes effort. But if done well, it’s doable for any website.

They’re caused the right web content, no matter which channel they use to access it. Get in touch with the site owners, clarify the circumstance, and ask if they can assist and update their website. By following this step-by-step process, you can ensure that your present visitors and potential clients have the wonderful experience they anticipate from your site.

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