Mar\u00a004,\u00a02019 0 by Brad Litwin As your website grows and changes, you may find that its existing domain name no longer suits your needs. Although changing your domain is simple, it can have a negative effect on your site\u2019s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) if you\u2019re not careful. SEO plays a major role in the success of your website, particularly when it comes to visibility and traffic. Fortunately, there are ways to switch your domain name without any lasting effects. This means you can make the change, and still continue to rank highly in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). In this post, we\u2019ll briefly discuss the importance of SEO, and then explain how to switch your domain without damaging your site\u2019s rankings. Let\u2019s get started! Why Strong SEO Is Important Whenever you use a search engine, it will quickly rank the available content based on how relevant each page is to your query. Although the position a website ranks at is ultimately in the hands of Google, there are ways to increase your chances of a high placement. This process is known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO can take many forms, although it usually centers around the use of relevant keywords. You can also include backlinks to your other content within your blog posts and social media profiles. Regardless of the particular methods you use, it\u2019s important to have a strong SEO strategy in place. This is because SEO helps to determine your site\u2019s visibility. Without it, your pages are less likely to be displayed to relevant searchers. This means your content simply won\u2019t be seen as often \u2013 which in turn can lead to low rates of conversions and site traffic. On the other hand, high rankings can help to drive potential customers towards your site. In short, doing SEO the right way can be a cost-effective method of promoting your content \u2013 a particularly beneficial factor for small businesses and first-time website owners. Of course, it\u2019s important to remember that a high ranking is never guaranteed. You should also bear in mind that certain actions can negatively impact your rankings if you aren\u2019t careful. How a Domain Change Can Affect SEO Your search result placements can be adversely affected by a number of factors \u2013 website downtime, for example. Right now, however, we want to focus on the potential negative consequences of changing your site\u2019s domain name. Although it may not be a regular occurrence, there are certain times when you might consider switching your domain name. This could be because a more user friendly or relevant domain has become available, you want to combine two existing sites, your business\u2019 name has changed, or your site\u2019s focus has shifted. Regardless of the reason, it\u2019s important to understand that even the smallest of changes can affect your rankings. One of the main reasons for this is that any links on your site to content under the previous domain will no longer work. Search engines are unable to categorize \u2018dead\u2019 links, meaning that the content cannot be ranked. As we mentioned earlier, low page rankings can have a negative impact on your conversion rates and site traffic. Fortunately, there are ways of getting around this problem. How to Switch Your Domain Name Without Damaging Your Site\u2019s SEO (In 3 Steps) Although changing your domain will usually result in a temporary drop in your search rankings, following a few simple steps can help you avoid long-term damage. Let\u2019s walk through how that process works. Step 1: Back Up Your Site The first thing you\u2019ll want to do is create a full backup of your website. There are many tools available for doing this, but using one that enables both backups and migrations will greatly simplify the process. For this reason, we recommend the Duplicator plugin. After installing and activating this tool, open the Duplicator menu in your WordPress dashboard. From there, select Create\u00a0New\u00a0to initiate a new backup: The plugin will launch the duplicator wizard \u2013 running some general performance tests along the way. If everything is okay, you can then click on the Build button: Duplicator will then create a \u2018package\u2019 containing a backup of your WordPress site. Once that\u2019s finished, you\u2019ll see a few download options. Select One-Click Download\u00a0to save the backup on your computer: The archive file is a full copy of your website \u2013 what you\u2019ll need to move it to another domain name. The installer script will automate and run the migration process, using the archive file. Step 2: Transfer Your Site to Its New Domain Before you can make the switch, you\u2019ll need to create a database for your new domain name. If you already have one, you\u2019re good to go. If you don\u2019t, you can follow our complete guide to setting up a new database. Then, you\u2019ll need to upload the Duplicator files you downloaded earlier to your new domain name. To do that, you\u2019ll first need to connect to the domain\u00a0using an FTP client. Make sure the root folder is empty, and then upload the archive and installer files into it. Once both files have finished uploading, you\u2019re ready to start unpacking WordPress. Open up a new browser tab, and enter the following URL (you\u2019ll need to replace \u201cyoursite.com\u201d with your new domain name): http://yoursite.com/installer.php This will launch the Duplicator migration wizard. The installer will locate the archive file, and ask you to enter some information about your existing WordPress database. You\u2019ll also need to provide the details for your new domain\u2019s database. The Duplicator plugin will then move your WordPress database backup from the existing archive onto the new domain. After it\u2019s finished, you\u2019ll be asked to update the site\u2019s URL or \u2018path\u2019. The plugin should automatically detect this information, but if it doesn\u2019t you can enter it manually. After that, Duplicator will complete the migration process for you. To verify that it has worked correctly, you can visit your site by entering the new URL into your browser. You should be taken straight to your website. Now that your new domain is advice, you\u2019ll want to set up some permanent 301 redirects. This will enable you to automatically send search engines to your new domain name, making sure they\u2019re still able to index all of its content. To do that, check out our guide to setting up redirects in cPanel. Step 3: Inform Google About the Change Now that you\u2019ve moved your site to its new domain, you\u2019ll need to notify Google of the change. This will help Google find your site\u2019s new location quickly, and continue to display it within search results. You can begin this process by adding your new domain name to Google Search Console: After that, access your old domain name in Google Search Console (or add it if necessary),\u00a0and select the gear icon at the top of the screen. This will launch the change of address tool. Google Search Console will then walk you through the process of submitting a request for your new domain. It will run some tests to make sure everything is in order. After that, you\u2019ve done everything you need to switch your domain name while protecting your search rankings. Conclusion A change in domain name is sometimes essential. However, it\u2019s important to keep the possible complications in mind \u2013 especially when it comes to your site\u2019s SEO. Search engines are vital to the ongoing success of any website, and you don\u2019t want to make it hard for them to locate and understand your content. To switch your domain name with minimal damage to your search rankings, you\u2019ll want to: Back up your site using the Duplicator plugin. Transfer your site to its new domain. Let Google know about the switch.Do you have any more questions about changing your domain name safely? Let us know in the comments section below! Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/128359034@N07/17233058042.