As digital marketers well know, the list of factors that influence SEO is long indeed. Almost anything, from new content to a new site layout, can affect the way you rank, whether minimally or significantly.
In many cases, domain name is an area in which most marketers place little attention. For the majority of businesses and sites, once a domain is established, there’s no reason to make a change. However, when a new domain becomes essential, it isn’t always easy to make a move without affecting your site ranking. Here’s what you need to know about the role your domain plays and how you can move forward while preserving your presence.
The Importance of a Domain
Your domain name is a defining piece of your web presence. It’s how customers know you, and where visitors go to find you.
Years ago, prior to Google’s 2012 algorithm shifts, a domain name made up of keyword phrases, like cheapcarinsurance.com, for example, was enough to rank at the top of a search for cheap car insurance, but things are now a little different. Today, domain names exist primarily as a form of branding and identification, providing a destination that contains the most important information about your business. Your domain may lend support to keyword use – for example, including a phrase like “car insurance” as a page name that then shows up in the URL for a car insurance sub-page – but that isn’t the primary purpose. Instead, it’s just one element of your web presence, providing an opportunity to showcase your business name and point users in the direction of your content.
What Is Domain Authority?
Domain Authority, or DA, is a ranking system devised by Moz that attempts to quantify how effectively a site will rank. Sites are scored on a 100-point logarithmic scale, with higher scores indicating a better likelihood of high ranks. DA is based on many factors, including total links, links to high-quality resources, and linking root domains. Scores are flexible and don’t exist in a vacuum, but reputable and worthy domains play a role. Changing your domain will absolutely influence Domain Authority score.
Overcoming the Challenges in Changing Domains
When you establish a new domain, you are essentially establishing a brand new website. Even if the content is the same, the links are the same, and the site construction is the same, Google sees your new domain as an entirely new entity. And while the age of a domain no longer matters as a primary ranking factor as confirmed by Google’s John Mueller on Twitter, starting from scratch is still an uphill battle.
To minimize the impact of waiting for Google’s web crawlers to find your site and determine a ranking, there are a few things you can do:
- Prioritize redirects. A 301 redirect will keep traffic coming to your site, maintaining a connection between your old presence and your new one that keeps rankings intact. Make sure all redirects only target equivalent content.
- Inform Google. With Google’s new Webmaster Tools, it’s fairly simple to tell Google that your domain is changing. This provides an immediate, actionable way for Google to update their directory without a lengthy wait.
- Maintain quality. Even if you have a new vision for your site, maintain the majority of SEO-friendly quality content present on your old site, like well-written blog posts or web copy rich in backlinks. Dumping these elements that bolstered your rank in the first place will hurt, not help.
If you make the decision to move to a new domain, it’s important to understand the potential consequences and what you can do to ease the burden on your web presence. Without the right approach, making a switch can be devastating, sending you to the bottom of the SERPs and compromising your ability to attract attention. Want to make sure your move goes smoothly? RivalMind is happy to help. Drop us a line and we’ll make sure your new domain is a success.