If you own an online business website, at some time during the promotion and operation of your company, you may feel the need to change your domain name to rebrand for enhancing business growth or gaining a top-level domain. You may also want to improve your site’s digital marketing possibilities. However, moving domains can strongly affect your Google ranking.

This is because the leading search engines award domain rankings with metrics that measure domain level and page level. If you change to a new domain, you effectively reset these metrics for your domain back to zero. Fortunately, there are methods of minimizing this setback and eliminating the ill-effects of moving to a new domain.

You should be sure to convey your old site’s search engine rankings to your new domain. Otherwise, Google metrics will evaluate your new domain as having “zero” visibility. Also, there may be a content duplication issue if your old website is going through canonicalization (standardization or normalization), which may begin at the domain level.

A canonical tag indicates the source URL (original content page) of specified web content to a search engine. This enables the search engine to determine whether a single page is the source of origin of this content or a duplicate. You may need to use a canonical URL extension to help eliminate problems with duplicate content to avoid any plagiarism issues. By following Google’s domain migration guidelines and tracking all changes that occur, you can successfully rebrand your domain without affecting its Google ranking.

Google Migration Guidelines for Domain Rebranding Without Loss of Google Ranking

Major points of the Google migration guidelines for rebranding your domain without losing its SERPs ranking include the following:

• Develop a New Site Map and Content. You will need to produce a new site map for your rebranded domain. Create new content, including a new company description, company mission and methods of operation, product information, images or other media files and contact data.

• Register Your Domain and Notify Your Customers. Access Google Search Console for registration and verification of both your new and old domains. Notify your customers or site members about your domain transition. Next, enable a 404 page with your old domain to keep your clients and site users aware of your domain rebranding process.

• Test the Redirects and Set up 301 Redirects. You should test the redirects within the development setting from your old to new domains for a 1:1 redirect. Then set up a 301 redirect from your former domain to your new one.

• Submit Your Old Domain Sitemap to Search Engines and Complete the “Change Address.” For allowing Google and other search engines to crawl your old domain’s URLs, submit your old domain sitemap to the major search engines. You can make changes in the Google index since the submission pages are within Google Search Console, where you can also fill out the “Change Address.”

• Ensure that All URLs Have Been Verified. To ensure that Google, Bing and other search engines have verified all of your domain URLs, produce a new sitemap and submit it to these search engines. Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Centre will perform diagnostics for your sitemap and correct any errors. To make certain that your new domain is correctly indexed and stable, monitor the SERPs for your new domain.