During the course of the life of a business, it continually reinvents itself. This may mean change of positioning, products and; sometimes this could involve rebranding. Rebranding can be a very positive experience, as a business can apply the knowledge it has learnt over the time of being in the industry to rebrand and directly target their market. However, when it comes to rebranding, some businesses can put it off because of their website. They feel like they are already locked in to the domain and don’t want to change at fear of starting fresh and losing all the hard work they have done to achieve great rankings in Google.
Fear not, there is a way to effectively swap the old domain to the new domain and if done correctly you can even experience some amazing results of improved rankings. Check out our 5 simple steps to achieve a successful change of address in Google.
Before continuing with the setup of the change of URL, make sure you keep a record of where your website is currently ranking in Google for your targeted keywords.
1. Build your new website
Before you should begin considering swapping over domains, the new website should be complete and ready to go live. Make sure it is setup with the user in mind and have high quality content on the website. Some of the few features we recommend that you should be able to check off on a new website include:
Make sure the website is accessible by Search Engines.
Targeted keywords have been used through the website’s pages.
Page Titles and Meta Descriptions are unique for each page.
No signs of keyword stuffing.
Images have been named and labelled appropriately.
Have search engine friendly URLs. Avoid having page names that look like http://www.yourwebsite.com.au/?catid=23?contentid=2
If you would like us to give your new website a once over check and ensure it is optimised for your desired market, check out our SEO services or call us on 1300 766 665
2. Setup the websites up in Google Webmaster Tools
Once the new website is live and ready to go, you need to set it up and verify it in Google Webmaster Tools. Both the old website and new website should be setup on the same account in Google Webmaster Tools. This is where you officially tell Google that have had a change of address. Verifying a website in Google Webmaster Tools is simple, and can be done in many ways that if you have trouble with your Website Developer should be able to do for you.
3. Redirect old URL to the new URL
As per Google’s direction, once both of the websites are setup in Google Webmaster Tools the next step is to redirect the old URL to the new URL using a 301 redirection. What this effectively means is that when someone types in the old URL, they will be immediately re-directed to the new URL with the new website on it.
4. Tell Google it is time to swap over
Now it’s time for the swap over. If you got to this stage, you would have both sites setup and verified in Google Webmaster Tools on the same account and the old URL redirecting to the new URL.
The notice of change of address is done in Google Webmaster Tools, so open up Google Webmaster Tools and login to the account where you have the websites setup. Navigate through to load the dashboard for the old URL.
On the left hand side, you will see there are some menu items. Clicking on “Configuration” will drop down a secondary menu. On this list you will have a link labelled “Change of Address.” Click on “Change of Address” and you will be taken to a page where you can specify the new website URL is.
Select the new URL with the new website from the list and click Submit. Once you have done this, you have officially told Google that you have changed domains. When the swap is complete, the new URL will start ranking in the same position where your older URL was being listed.
5. When can you expect results?
Now it’s happened, you are probably wondering when to expect to see the new domain show up in Google. We have had experiences where it has happened in a matter of 1-2 hours, and in other cases it has taken 24-48 hours. Unfortunately, Google has no notification system to let you know when this has been updated. You will need to check the keywords you know you rank for and check to see what website is being listed. Be aware, that during this switch over process you may find that some keywords list the new URL where other keywords list the older URL.
Once you see the change of address has been completed, and the new URL is ranking for your keywords, run a report on those keywords to see where they are now ranking. You can expect to see some movement, as the website has had some changes. If the new website has been completely built with SEO and high quality content, there is a good chance you could see an increase in ranking positions for the new URL.
Please feel free to call us if you have any questions regarding setting up a new website and we will happily help look over to make sure it is optimised for search engines.
Have you had any experience with doing a change or address? Was it a positive or negative experience? Let us know in the comments below
Jasmine Batra is one of Australia’s most respected Digital Marketing Strategists and the co-founder and CEO of Arrow Digital. She draws from her practical experience on SEO, Social Media, Conversion Principles and Content marketing to drive business growth for her clients.