There may come a time when it will be necessary to adopt a new URL for your ecommerce site. If you’re there already (which is probably why you’re reading this), you’ll be pleased to learn it doesn’t have to be the kiss of death for your traffic. In fact, you can easily rebrand your site, keeping your search engine rankings and authority intact.
Here’s how to change your ecommerce domain name without blowing your SEO.
1)Save Your Site Offline
Your first move should be performing a site backup. That way, if something goes sideways during one of the following steps, your site can be recalled, and you can begin again without losing your data. When the backup is complete, test it to confirm all of the site’s functionalities are intact. If you follow best practices, your site is being backed up every day anyway, so you’ve probably already taken this step. And, this is great time to start If you’re not.
2)Make Sure Your New Domain Name is Clean
There’s a chance your new URL could have a negative search engine rep. If there are lots of low-quality back links associated with the domain name, getting it to index well is going to be a challenge. You’ll want to do a site sweep before taking it live. Google Webmaster Tools will help you find any harmful associations the domain name may have. You can then submit a removal request and be good to go.
3)Let the Migration Begin
You can begin moving your content to the new URL once you’ve completed the steps above. It’s always best to accomplish this in one pass. In addition to expediting the process, you’ll minimize the impact of having your content offline for too long. Depending upon the platforms you’re employing, there are a number of migration plug-ins you can use to do this automatically. You can also do it manually. Review all of your content to make sure everything is working properly after the move. This is also a good time to create a logo for your new URL.
4)Redirect Your Pages
Redirecting is crucial to holding on to your SEO authority. Like call forwarding, a 301 URL redirect sends all requests for your content to the new site. In other words, when users type YouOldURL.com, they will automatically be taken to YouNewURL.com. Further, a 301 redirect tells the search engine crawlers to associate the rankings of the old URL with the new one, so your new pages get all the love your old pages enjoyed. If you’re leaving some pages behind, create a page on the new site to let users know what happened as opposed to serving them a 404.
5)Tell Search Engines You Moved
Once you’re satisfied everything made it through intact and all systems are functioning normally, inform Google of your move. Its Webmaster tools are set up to accommodate change of address notifications—and the process is quite simple. However, you should complete all of the above steps first. You don’t want to redirect traffic to a half-baked site. This will sink your rankings, as well as leave your customer base wondering what happened to your business.
6)Create New XML Sitemaps
To buy yourself an added bit of insurance, create XML sitemaps for both sites to help search engine crawlers find your content and index it properly. While this does not guarantee your site will be crawled, it does make crawling more efficient when it happens.
And that’s how to change your ecommerce domain name and maintain your SEO momentum. Followed precisely, these steps will ensure your new domain name pulls just as well as your old one did.