Moving domains? Here are the SEO essentials for a smooth transition

I’m scheduled to go to a conference on May 8 and 9 called Big Digital Adelaide, where I’ll be talking about site migration. There are different types of site migration, and each one has its challenges. The new Google updates have caused many e-commerce site owners to migrate from HTTP to HTTPS. If your current platform isn’t doing the job any more you’ll need to migrate, perhaps from Joomla! to WordPress. Finally, there’s migrating to a new address, when you change your site’s URL. I’ve been working on that one this week.

We’ve had the same domain for the last 18 years, so you can imagine how scary it is to consider “domain authority” and the problems moving all that content can cause. While domain authority is mostly a myth, what can be a real problem are the current backlinks to your site, your daily traffic and the general popularity of your website. These things do matter, just as the actual content does. You need to get it right on the first try.

There’s a long list of things you have to do for a successful change, but one of the most important is a little function inside the Google Search Console (GSC) called Change of Address. To do this, you have to have both domains set up in GSC, and both of them have to be live. Once this happens, go to the gear icon at the top of the page and click on “Change of Address”. You’ll see a progressive series of ticks, checking off all the steps needed to move your site.

Once this is done, the work isn’t finished. Patience is the key. You’ll need to check your indexing every day, submit old sitemaps to encourage Google and, sorry to say, wait. Your rank should move up eventually, but it does take time.

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