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Does Changing Domain Name Affect SEO?

4:33 AM James Thomas 1 Comments Category :

Does Changing the Domain Name Really Affect Your Search Engine Optimization?

Almost anyone with three or more years’ experience in the field should know by now that, of course changing the domain name will affect your SEO. But I don’t believe that is really the question these people mean to ask. I think they are looking for answers for a question more like, “Will changing my domain name affect my rankings/search engine optimization results”?

In other words, people don’t normally look at changing their domain names unless something compels them to. Maybe they have been told by The Company (or The Client) that the domain name is being changed and they have to make sure nothing bad happens. Maybe a merger has happened and an old domain is being folded into another. Maybe someone sold a domain but kept the content.

So, the first thing to understand is that not all domain name swaps are the same. If you retain control over the old domain (and you should plan on doing that for at least ten years) then you’ll want to implement 301-redirects to ensure that the link value pointing at old content is transferred to the new domain. Don’t even hope that you can get all the old links changed. That’s a real waste of time.

On the other hand, if you’re selling the domain name and have to start over for some reason, you can kiss the link value good-bye. Sure, you might get a lot of the old links changed but that’s a lot of work. Nonetheless I have known some people who sold their domains and kept the content. They really wanted to keep those links coming in.

Frankly, I would forget about the old links, even if they are only 2 weeks old. When you’re launching a new domain you will have your hands full just teaching people to search for the right domain. You will need NEW links anyway. If you sell the domain and keep the content there is no practical way to bring the link value with you. But if the content was really that good then who is to say it won’t attract new links if you republish it carefully in a measured pace?

In fact, I have attracted new links after republishing my old Suite101 articles from more than ten years ago. I’ve done that at least twice. So moving content to a new domain doesn’t mean you have lost all link value forever. In fact, quite the opposite. Most links don’t last as long as content and yet people in the SEO industry continue to invest more time and effort in obtaining links than in managing content. Talk about being inefficient!

In short, changing your domain name will indeed affect your SEO — that is, your search referral traffic — at least temporarily while the search engines get the redirects sorted out and permanently if you’re not able to redirect old URLs. Either way, if you continue to work on the site and produce good content you should recover any lost traffic in a reasonable length of time (3-6 months in my experience).

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