There may come a time when you have to change your web domain name. You could be rebranding or the ownership situation of your company may have changed. Maybe you are taking the business down a whole new path and want a fresh start. You know that everything needs to be changed, from advertising material to business cards to stationary and that includes the domain name for your website. 

This can be an exciting time for you but it can also be scary. You may have spent years sending customers and potential customers to a certain website and now that website will be no more. It is of course going to be an expensive proposition redoing everything related to your business and getting customers used to your new name. The good news is that when it comes to changing a domain there are some things that can be done to make the switch just a bit easier.

Buy The New Web Domain Early

Buying a domain name is not expensive so once you have settled on what your business will be rebranded to buy the new web domain name as soon as possible. Not only will that secure the name for you preventing an ugly situation where you procrastinate and someone else gets it but by being activated it gives search engines more time to crawl it helping give an early bump with SEO. Even with just a Coming Soon page you can get a bump in SEO as your domain is now an active domain. Also consider purchasing similar domain names as well, not only to make it easier to be found but to also cut down on potential fraud.

Of course with the new web domain secure you can now confidently create new stationary items to include it as well. The last thing that you want to do is to have to create new letterheads since someone else bought the domain you wanted.

Make Sure People Know

You don’t want your customers (or potential customers) to visit your site and find an error. They will wonder just what the heck is going on and fear the worst. Just by finding your site down they may go to a competitor for their business. That does not need to happen. 

Make sure that your customers know that you are rebranding and changing web domains. Do this on social media, place it on your old website, put it in a newsletter or email marketing campaign and actually tell people. The more people that know, the less likely an awkward situation arises which is better for you.

What To Do With The Old Site?

When the rebranding is complete and the new website is opened for business you will want your visitors to go there. You have three options at this point: 1) shutting down the old site 2) keeping the old site live but mentioning to visit the new one or 3) redirecting users to the new site. 

Option one should not be done. Besides being a bad look for any customer who did not get the memo (it will happen) it prevents a less than scrupulous individual from swooping in and buying the domain. Recent years have seen a rise in this as they then market offers that are too good to be true in an attempt to steal credit card information. While this has nothing to do with you, if a customer falls for this they will blame you. Remember as well that the email addresses associated with that domain will also cease to function when the domain ceases to be active.

Keeping the old site live for a time is not a bad idea, in fact you should keep it up. Any customers who have it bookmarked will go there and you can put a message up telling them to go to the new site (and bookmark that one). You may also still have contracts to fulfill based off of that business and need to keep that up and running. It doesn’t cost too much and it might even be best to keep it up for at least a year after the rebranding. If the site is taken down a 404 error message can be customized to inform the visitor that the site has moved and an auto reply message can be set up for any emails coming in. 

The easiest option will be to set up a redirect to the new site. You have certainly seen these before where you go to one site and end up at another. A 301 redirect is relatively easy to set up (Nicely Done Sites can handle this for you as well!) and this will direct visitors to the new site. This can be in effect as long as the old domain is active.

Who Else Do You Tell?

For the best results with SEO you can tell the search engines directly that you have changed domains. With Google in particular, since they are the #1 search engine by far, a tool has been set up that will inform them. This will minimize your old site’s impact in rankings and will transfer the ranking from your old links to your new site so you don’t have to start over at square one with SEO. 

When you change your physical address you have to go through a lot of hoops and tell a lot of people. Changing your web domain is really no different. The more people know that you have simply changed domains and have not gone out of business, the better it is for everyone. Don’t lose a longtime customer over something as simple as a domain change. 

If you are looking to rebrand or just need help setting up or redirecting a domain Nicely Done Sites can help. Feel free to contact us via live chat or visit our Contact page and we can sit down with you and help make this transition go as smoothly as possible.

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