How to Change Your Domain Name Without Losing All Your Traffic

How to Change Your Domain Name Without Losing Traffic

As a small business owner, you may need to change your domain name for a variety of reasons, such as updating your website to improve search engine rankings, or rebranding with a new domain name to attract more customers.

Whatever the reason, it’s essential to approach the process cautiously to avoid any negative impact on your web traffic and domain authority.

Some business owners make the mistake of purchasing a new domain and building a new website or buying a pre-owned one without properly redirecting their old website.

This can significantly drop web traffic and loss of domain authority, harming your business’s online presence and reputation.

But don’t worry; there are steps you can take to change your domain name correctly without losing web traffic or damaging your business. In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the business and technical considerations you must consider when changing to a new domain.

So let’s make the change to your new domain smooth and successful.

Why Is a Domain Name so Paramount?

A domain name is essentially your business identity to all its visitors and viewers. It’s your virtual online address and the first impression for every new potential customer on your website.

A domain name can impact your website’s search engine rankings, ultimately affecting your business’s web traffic and online visibility. Search engines like Google use domain names to understand the content of your website and rank it in search results. A relevant and memorable domain name can help your website rank higher in search results, increasing your visibility to potential customers.

Your domain name also plays a vital role in your branding efforts. A memorable domain name can help your business stand out from the competition and build brand recognition. It can also make it easier for customers to remember your website’s name and return to it repeatedly.

In short, your domain name is critical to your business’s online presence, affecting everything from search engine rankings to brand recognition. That’s why it’s essential to take the time to choose the right one and make any necessary changes carefully to avoid losing traffic and harming your business’s reputation.

Preparing for a Domain Name Change Step-by-Step

With the right approach and by following all our steps below, you can make the domain change process painless and avoid any potential issues that could affect your website’s traffic, customer relationships, and SEO efforts.

Over-Communicate the New Domain with Customers

The most challenging part of building a business is attracting new customers. Why lose them over something as simple as changing your domain name?

Before you start changing things, sit down and create a communication plan outlining when you’ll be telling your customers about the change and how.

The goal is to ensure your customers understand what’s happening, why, and, more importantly, how it’ll impact them. In the end, you don’t want your customers to feel confused because a confused customer usually doesn’t buy things.

Lock in Your Domain and Start Building Trust

Once you’ve decided to change your domain name, one of the first things to do is purchase and register it. Of course, you want to lock in your desired domain name so no one else can buy it, but there are other benefits.

Did you know that the age of your domain could help you gain more organic traffic to your existing website? While domain registration age is not one of the top-ranking factors and is not likely to catapult you to the first page of Google, it is a slight indication that your website is legitimate. So, purchasing a domain name as early as possible is good, especially if rebranding takes time.

Don't forget to update your social media if you are changing your domain

Update Your Social Media

One of the things to consider when changing your domain name is updating all your social media accounts. Sometimes this can be as easy as changing the name; in some cases, you may find that one or all of the names already have existing social media accounts.

What do you do if you can’t get all your social media accounts? You first want to reach out to the current owner; in many cases, the social media account may be old and inactive.

If the current owner is unresponsive or unwilling to part with the name, consider modifying all your social media account handles so they’re all the same. Similar social media handles make it easier for customers to find you on any social media platform.

You may consider legal action if your new domain name is copyrighted or trademarked. Sometimes a letter from an attorney has a way of motivating people to act. 


Map Out Your Old Web Pages

A sitemap is a map of all the pages on your website, and we talk a great deal about it in the “What Is a Sitemap blog post. If your old website does not have a sitemap, create one before changing your domain name. If you are on a CMS like WordPress, there are many plugins, both free and paid, that can generate a sitemap automatically. A popular plugin that creates excellent sitemaps is Yoast SEO.

Why do you need the sitemap of your website with the old domain name? The sitemap will show all the pages that need to redirect to the new URLs for the website.

Set up a Permanent Redirect to Keep Traffic and Authority

A permanent redirect, or 301 redirect, tells the search engine crawler that the URL has been changed permanently and ensures a smooth transition from your old domain to the new one.

For example, if your current website has multiple location pages for each city, you will want to redirect each old city page URL to the new city page URL. According to Google, using 301 redirects doesn’t impact page ranking. This means that redirects are a good SEO practice, and you should do it to stabilize your SEO efforts after a domain name change.

You may ask yourself, is this useful and worth the time? Pages on your old website are already ranking on Google and bringing organic traffic to your site. If you don’t 301 redirect the URLs, the user will likely see an error page after clicking an old URL.

This is a bad user experience for the searcher, and Google will eventually drop the URLs from search results.

One of the best parts about setting up a 301 redirect is that 90% of the authority is passed from the old page to the new one

One of the best parts about setting up a 301 redirect is that 90% of the authority or link equity is passed from the old to the new page. What does this mean for you? If the old page was performing well, the new page will likely do so. 

You may find this overly technical as a small business owner who is not a subject matter expert in websites and search engine optimization. But it is essential to understand that correctly handling the technical details will help you maintain the online success that you already have. 

An elegant way to redirect is through the .htaccess file.

This file is located in the root directory of your website and can be accessed through your web hosting control panel.

Once you have located the .htaccess file, you can use the code below to set up redirects from your old domain to your current domain:

RewriteEngine on

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^ [NC,OR]

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^ [NC]

RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [L,R=301,NC]

This code will redirect all traffic from your old domain to your current domain while preserving the URL structure of your old website. Also, the NC at the end of the code tells our server to ignore the case of URLs.

Don’t Forget to Forward Emails 

Remember to update your email addresses and forward old emails to new ones. You want to keep these forwards in place for a while, as you will be surprised at how many customers miss all of the communications you’ve planned and are still sending emails to your old addresses six months later.

Content, Backlinks, and Mentions

Do a content audit and identify top-performing content pages on your website. Identify what backlinks are pointing to those pages. The 301 redirects you set up earlier will help you retain most of the authority of the backlinks, but if you can reach out to any webmasters, you can ask them to link to the new URL, which would give you 100% link equity from the backlink.

There are many SEO tools you can use to discover these backlinks. The Link Explorer by is a popular tool that will give you all the backlink data you can handle. 

Brand mentions can also help with authority. Brand mentions are online references to your brand, company, or product. Take the time to find brand mentions and backlinks, as being properly referred to will ensure your new domain name doesn’t lose all the SEO.

Remember All Your Internal Links!

While keeping your backlinks and mentions working is impeccable, it’s also smart to check and update all your internal links.

It’s important not to overlook these links during a domain name change, as broken internal links can lead to a poor user experience and negatively impact your website’s search engine rankings.

Updating internal links is (almost) a breeze if you’re using WordPress for your website. Simply Settings > General, and replace your WordPress address URL with your new domain name. This will update all internal links on your website without any issues.

Now, you might wonder – and rightly so – if changing your domain name in a WordPress site after the fact is impossible. Fortunately, there’s still a solution to this issue. Locate your wp-config file in the root directory of your WordPress and add these lines above the line “That’s all, stop editing!”:

define( ‘WP_HOME’, ‘’ );

define( ‘WP_SITEURL’, ‘’ );

This will change your website URL. A third way is to do it through your database admin interface, locate your WordPress tables and find wp_options. Inside this table, you’ll find the option “siteurl” and “home” both of which must be set to your new domain name.

In the phpMyAdmin, you can double-click the option_value, paste your new domain name and click anywhere in the blank space on the right to save your changes.


However, if you’re not using WordPress, you may need to update internal links in your website’s HTML code manually. This can be a time-consuming process and can be done via custom code to search and replace all the internal links in your content.

Before changing your domain name, make sure you can change some backlinks

Monitor Analytics

Make sure you’ve got Google Analytics installed on your old website, as this will allow you to monitor the status of your site after the domain name change using the original domain as a baseline.

After the domain name is updated, monitoring your traffic and rankings will be imperative. It is not uncommon to see a small dip in traffic initially; however, if you see significant drops in traffic or rankings, it is likely an indication that something is wrong. Monitoring all the important website analytics is a quick way to identify and fix a problem.

Minimizing Traffic Loss During a Domain Name Change

There is always a chance that things go differently than planned, and you may end up with many problems during your domain name change.

Back up Your Site!

We can’t stress this enough. Having an offline or an offsite version of your site is pivotal to ensure that you avoid any downtime during this whole process. Use your backup file manager and create a manual backup or back up all your website content from an FTP client.

Notify Search Engine Console About the Change

Once you’ve set up your 301 redirects, as noted in a few paragraphs above, inform Google and other search engines of the domain change.

For Google, you can do this through Google Search Console by using the change of address request and following the detailed instructions on the support Google website. This ensures that the search engine knows the change and updates its index accordingly.

Slowly Migrate Your Site to the New Domain Name

You don’t have to hurry. If your website data is huge or you’re an eCommerce store owner, then do one thing at a time. You can split your website’s content into multiple chunks and transfer them independently to test them properly.

Conclusion: Change Your Domain Name Without Fear

If you’re considering changing your domain name, it’s important to keep in mind the impact it can have on your previous domain’s SEO efforts and the site visitors who are accustomed to your old URLs. But with a carefully planned transition to your desired domain and a structured URL plan, you can maintain your website’s traffic and customer relationships.

Following the steps we’ve outlined, including backing up your site, updating your internal and external links, and minimizing downtime, you can change your domain name without fear of losing SEO rankings or traffic. Remember to communicate the change to your customers, followers, and search engines to ensure a smooth transition.

In conclusion, a domain name change doesn’t have to be a scary process. By taking the necessary steps and being mindful of the impact on your SEO and visitors, you can seamlessly transition to your new domain and continue to grow your online presence.

Bonus: FAQ

As a bonus, we’re throwing in a list of frequently asked questions we found online that we think will be helpful if you ever intend to change your domain name.

Q: Will changing my domain name affect my website’s SEO?

A: If you don’t follow the steps mentioned in this blog, then yes, this will hurt your SEO. But, if you follow the right steps, most importantly, applying 301 redirects, then your SEO efforts won’t go to waste!

Q: Can I keep the same URL structure and change my domain name?

A: Yes, you can change your domain name and keep the same URL structure by properly redirecting your old URLs to the corresponding new URLs.

Q: Will changing my domain name affect my social media presence?

A: It will unless you update your social media information and communicate the changes with your audience. Use every possible medium to announce that your business is going to change a domain name – like we said in this article.

Q: Should I inform my site visitors about the domain name change?

A: Definitely. You should inform your visitors and customers about the domain name change to avoid confusion and ensure a smooth transition. You can do this by adding a banner or pop-up on your website, emailing your subscribers, and posting on your social media accounts.

María is an enthusiast of cinema, literature and digital communication. As Content Coordinator at HostPapa, she focuses on the publication of content for the blog and social networks, organizing the translations, as well as writing and editing articles for the KB.

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