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How to Change a Domain Name [Ultimate Guide 2022]

Written by, Alex Bosnjak

Updated April, 20, 2022

Want to learn how to change the domain name of your website?

It isn’t a straightforward process since you can’t change a domain once you register it. You have to buy a new one and replace it with your existing one. 

This sounds complex!

In this post, I’ll explain it in simple steps. Also, I’ll discuss the top reasons for doing this change.

Let’s get started!

How to Change a Domain Name (Step-by-Step Instructions)

Let’s go step by step:

1. Choose and Buy Your New Domain Name

The first step to changing your site’s domain name is choosing and purchasing a new one. This is a highly personal decision involving considerations such as keywords, location, availability, and cost. 

When you’re ready, you can use one of the top domain registrars like GoDaddy, CrazyDomains, Namecheap, or Bluehost.

Once you find your preferred domain, you can purchase it and assign it to your existing website through the settings tab on your cPanel. Still, different hosts have different processes, so dig into their knowledge bases to ensure you’re on the right track.

2. Redirect Traffic to Your New Domain (301 Direct)

Redirecting traffic (or 301 Direct) is the most important step of the domain change process. That ensures you won’t lose any traffic from regular visitors or those who have bookmarked your past URL. 

Most web hosts allow customers to do this from their cPanels under the Redirects tab in the Domains section.

For making redirections I used the Rank Math plugin for WordPress which has free tools.

Screenshot of 301 redirection from websitebuilderau.com to buyorbye.com.au using RankMath

Once you find it, click on the option that reads Permanent (301) and the domain you want to direct before clicking the Add button. Then, you’ll be all set to send your visitors to your new domain even if they type in the old one.

3. Inform Google About the Domain Change

Google is the world’s most powerful search engine. To ensure the domain change doesn’t affect your ranking and SEO performance, you must inform Google about the change. The best free tool to do this is Google Search Console, so make sure you add it to your search engine optimisation toolbox. 

4. Thorough Testing

Once you’ve successfully learn how to change domain names and applied that, you must double-check everything to ensure it’s working well. Apart from manually typing in the old domain to check if the new one opens, you can employ other quality assurance strategies like asL. You can also:

  • Generate feedback from your team, friends, and users. Perhaps they could catch errors you failed to see.
  • Use Google Analytics to properly track your new domain’s performance in terms of traffic, 404 pages (pages not found), and redirection issues. This will point you in the right direction before going live. 

5. Updating Users About the Change

At this stage, your new domain should be good to go. All you need to do is update your users about the change by providing your new URL in blogs, social media accounts, forums, and videos, among other channels. This step is crucial, especially if you own an old domain. You don’t want to lose any visitors due to confusion.

You can write an explanatory post on your site’s homepage as soon as you deploy the changes. Also, you can send out an email campaign about the change and update your terms and conditions. 

What to Do After Changing a Domain Name

Depending on the domain you choose, you’ll likely need to update or revamp several aspects of your site’s design to reflect the change. This includes:

6. Your Website Logo

If you’re going through a rebranding process, your logo will most likely need an update, especially if you’re running a new business, expanding your expertise, or looking to keep up with the trends. Since your logo is usually the first thing users see when they visit your site, it makes sense to change it after changing your domain. 

7. Internal Links

When you change your site’s URL, you’ll also need to update all your corresponding internal links to prevent 404 errors or broken links. It’s just one of many common facts about domain names

If you’re using WordPress, you can easily do this from the Settings > General tab. You can download the Go Live Update URLs plugin to update URLs in images, excerpts, widgets, and posts.

8. Site Mentions

Depending on your specific needs, your website might need a major content overhaul.

Check your:

  • About Us page
  • Contact Us page 
  • Tagline
  • Product pages
  • Blog
  • Placeholder
  • Terms & conditions

Simply put, you’ll need to change all references to your previous domain within your content. 

What Might Happen After Changing a Domain Name

Changing your domain name can offer several benefits to your business. But it also comes with great risks that can jeopardise your digital presence. 

Here are some of the disadvantages you’ll have to deal with when going down this route:

  1. Losing Organic Traffic and Rankings on Search Engines

Losing organic traffic and rankings on search engines are the most significant risks users face after updating their domain name. But the good news is that this might not happen, especially if you take the necessary steps to mitigate the risk. 

For instance, creating a 301 Direct can help search engines and visitors reach your site as soon as you add the new domain to your cPanel.  Another way to minimize traffic loss is by purchasing a premium domain name that’s already registered. These are often shorter, keyword-rich, and more memorable.

  1. Losing Backlinks 

Backlinks are links to third-party websites that direct traffic to your site. They are key to establishing a high Page Authority (PA). So, losing them can put your site’s overall traffic at risk. 

But can I change my domain name without sacrificing backlinks? Yes, you should proactively prepare a backlink strategy for your updated domain. 

  1. Losing Brand Awareness

If your target audience is accustomed to typing in your domain name directly into their browser, you’re at great risk of losing them. If you haven’t redirected your site, they might go to your old domain only to find a loading error and think you’ve gone offline permanently.

But if your users typically search online for your business on Google or other search engines, they’ll notice the change and catch on. You can also include a message on social media, send an email, or include a pop-up on your homepage announcing the change.

How Long Does It Take to Change a Domain Name?

Usually, it takes around 24–48 hours for your Domain Name System (DNS) information to be updated across the entire web once you set up your new domain. 

During this period, you won’t be able to redirect all users to your new domain. You’ll have to take this risk as Internet Service Providers often cause propagation delays. 

When to Change a Domain Name

If you were pondering the question, “Can domain names be changed?,” we’re sure you know the answer now. But it’s a huge decision with major implications. Hence, the reasons for a domain name change are also significant. Here’s when or why companies, brands, professionals, and other individuals typically change their domain names:

  1. Rebranding

Maybe you started your business specialising in a particular niche, but you’ve recently expanded or switched to another. In this case, you might want to change your domain name to reflect the new business.

For instance, our website used to be websitebuilderau.com, but we decided to expand, so we had to go through this process.

Perhaps you’d like to switch to a more popular subdomain and tweak your URL from .co to .com. Also, you might have sold your business to another company that wants to undertake a domain name change.

  1. Relocation

Imagine you’re a small business owner that had to move from the US to another country. As a consequence, you may be required to change your website from a .us to a .ca, .de, or .co.uk. 

In this case, you can opt for a new Top-Level Domain (TLD) or country code Top-Level-Domain (ccTLD) with hundreds of options. 

  1. Domain Availability

Perhaps you had to initially settle for a different domain since your preferred one was already taken. Many people often wait for domains to expire and bid on them as soon as they’re available while their price is relatively lower. 

  1. Lack of Traction

Perhaps your existing domain isn’t getting as much traction or traffic due to hyphens, numbers, or its length. The secret to creating a powerful domain is memorability. If people can remember your site’s URL, they can easily visit your page. 

Conclusion

So, there you have it — a simple guide on how to change your domain name. If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve probably noticed that changing your domain name is a fairly straightforward process once you do your homework. Starting by assessing your reasons for the change and understanding the risks involved

If you’re still confused about how to proceed, consider hiring an expert specialising in domain migrations to help you transition smoothly to your new URL.

FAQ

  1. Is it possible to change your domain name?

No, you cannot change your existing domain as it has been registered with a hosting service. But it’s possible to change your website’s domain name by purchasing a new one and replacing it. Once you’ve found and purchased a new domain name for your site, log in to your domain registrar account, go to the settings page, and click on “Change Domain Name.” 

  1. Does it cost to change the domain name?

Yes, since you can’t change your registered domain name, you have to get another one that comes at a price. New domains can cost anywhere from $10 to tens of thousands of dollars depending on the hosting service you opt for, the domain’s popularity and registration status, and subdomain, e.g., .com vs.net

  1. How hard is it to change your domain name?

The process of changing your domain name is fairly simple. First, buy a new domain and replace it from your registrar account. This is usually the business end of the process. The difficult part comes during the research stage. You have to choose a domain that reflects your brand with minimum impact on your site’s SEO and one that hasn’t been punished by Google for spammy backlinks or other issues.

  1. Why Would You Need To Change Your Domain Name?

Changing a site’s domain name rarely happened in the past. But with thousands of businesses revamping their digital presence, many owners have to learn how to change a domain name.