Your website domain is an extremely important business asset; It’s how people can find and communicate with your business and it’s often printed on swag and other marketing materials. It’s also indexed by Google and other search engines bringing potential clients to your website. If done incorrectly, the change can have a devastating effect on your website’s search engine rankings and can lead to you losing out on business.
In June of 2020, the now-former CEO of CrossFit, Greg Glassman, said things that caused many of CrossFit gyms to want to disassociate fro the CrossFit brand. For most of these gyms, this requires a name change as well as changing their website domain. One of these gyms was Second Wind Training, the gym I’ve been a member of since 2016. Walking the owner Steve through the process inspired me to write a post about it to help others as well.
So, if you need to change your website address, how do you do it responsibly?
For a careful website domain change, you need to consider the following:
- Visitors from the old address need to be redirected to your new website seamlessly
- Your hosting account needs to be updated to use the new domain
- Your website needs to be configured to use the new domain
- You need to send Google and other search engines the correct signals to make them understand you’ve changed your website address
- Update your new website address on online profiles such as Yelp.com, Google My Business (you have this set up, right?), Facebook and CrossFit.com (just joking).
- Make sure your email addresses work with the new address
- BONUS: If you have online ads running you’ll want to change the destination to the new domain
At a minimum, the tasks that need to be completed are:
- If you don’t have Google Search Console set up, you’ll want to do that BEFORE you change your domain so that you can have profiles for both the old and the new domain
- Obtaining a new domain
- Adding the appropriate DNS records to point the domain to your hosting account and/or email service
- If you have a WordPress website, you need to change the website address
- Set up the correct HTTP redirects to make sure visitors to the old URL are forwarded to the corresponding page on the new site (not the homepage!)
- Add a note about the domain change in your Google Analytics, so you can easily monitor the change’s effects in your web statistics
- Update your social media profiles and online ads.
If any or all of this sounded like gibberish, it’s ok! We’d love to help you walk through the process. Or if you work with a website developer already, make sure they have a solid plan for the change because if they don’t, their mistakes can cost you.