When creating a website, there are two things that you have to think about: choosing the right web hosting service and getting your own domain. Getting the services of a top hosting company might lump both services together, though, which may be an appealing option if you are about to get one.
When it comes to choosing a domain name back in the day, Google actually rewards websites that have a clear intention that people can see directly just by looking at the website’s URL. A long domain name, therefore, was the way to go if you want to improve your page rankings.
However, sometime later, people started thinking about user experience. I mean, it is pretty inconvenient to key in ‘how-to-get-the-best-hotel-deals.com’ in the address bar of your favorite web browser, right?
Then, Google decided to ditch the longer domain name in favor of much shorter ones. Although most people are not afraid of the jump; there are actually some that still are using their old domain names. Why is that? Well, the reason is simple: it is because of SEO.
SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization and it is a set of techniques that you can do to help your website gain traction online. The better your website’s SEO is, the more visible it would be for people to click on and visit.
That is why there are some webmasters who are reluctant to take the jump and you’re probably one of the bunch as well. However, if you do decide to change your domain name, you need to be aware of a couple of things first.
See if the Domain You Wish to Use Has Been Registered Before
If you have a rather unique domain name right from the get-go and you are sure that no one is using it, then you can skip this step. However, if your website’s domain may have a couple of similar domains, then you may want to do these things:
a. First, you want to use a ‘whois’ service which will allow you to know if a particular domain that you want to use still exists or not. If it doesn’t then you can use it.
b. Second, you can use the Wayback Machine which is a service that allows you to know if that particular has been used before but has now been inactive for quite some time. You want to do this so that you can skip using a domain that was flagged by Google before since flagged domains typically do not have the ability for people to use Google Adsense on it (which, if you want to monetize your website, is something that you really want to have).
Changing a domain is either going to an entirely new provider or just using the same service, albeit you will be placed on a different server.
Regardless of what type of transition it would be, you have to make backups of your website. Fortunately, most hosting companies will give you the option to make automatic backups right from the get-go.
If you are using a content management system like Drupal or WordPress, you can use plugins or modules that will allow you to seamlessly move all of your website’s file across different domains without a hitch.
Your URLs Need to Be Updated
If you could hire a web developer to do this job for you, then everything will be so much easier. If not, you may have to go to your .htaccess file and do the redirects manually.
One of the things that you need to do would be to use a 301 redirect which will tell the servers that your website migration is permanent and all SEO benefits that your previous domain had will be carried over to the new one.