Change Domain Names without Losing Potential Traffic

change domain names

How to change domain names is one of the most common question asked by our users here at Vodien. We thought it would be useful to share with you how we process migration of new domains.

In today’s article, we will outline steps to follow when changing a site’s domain. This will not only help in rebranding your site, it can boost your search rankings as well.

Time can only tell when your website needs to change its domain. Reasons can be due to a company rebranding or maximizing your URL’s SEO advantage. Whatever these reasons are, switching domains is a huge decision that must be thought through before actually doing it.

It’s important to note that this article will not be about moving your website to a new web host. The process may be similar, but it involves other things besides forming a 301 redirect.


Things to Understand Before Switching Domain Names

There are a few things we want to point out before we proceed with the domain change. Below are the list of items that will be affected once you switch to another domain.

If you use a CMS like WordPress, changing the main domain is only the beginning. There may be other configurations you need to set. So make sure to check documentations  from your CMS provider on how to change domains.


SEO rankings

Your site’s searching ranking will be affected once the domain change is in progress. It may take time for search engines to adjust to these changes. Don’t worry, this is only temporary. This happens to all sites that undergo domain migration. Google suggests that you set up a 301 redirect (more on this later) to maintain the SEO juice from your old site.



Keep in mind that email accounts under the old domain will change to the new domain name. As an example: will switch to

If you still want the old domain, you can include it as an addon or parked domain name in your cPanel account. Then make sure to renew that email account.



Similarly, you need to update your subdomains as needed. For example, will now be The previous domain will be terminated. If you want to use it, add it as parked or addon domain to the cPanel. You will need to log in to the new domain’s cPanel account rather than the old domain’s cPanel account.   



If the new domain – is an addon domain and the files are in the public_html/newdomain, you need to reload the files to the public_html.


8 Steps to Change Domain Names

If you’re confident that switching to another domain is the best move, then make sure to follow these steps to avoid the risks of losing potential traffic to your new domain.


  1. Generate a full website backup.

Before making any changes to your website (installing plugins and themes, switching domains or web hosting, etc.), it’s important to create a full backup of your site. This is to ensure that your entire content is kept as it is when transferred.

For tips on how to backup your WordPress site, check out this article –  WordPress Backups: Protect your Website from Data Loss and Disasters. We recommend that you do it regularly to check if the files are where it should be. See it if is corrupted or not. Vodien customers get free JetBackup service on top of their web hosting plan.


  1. Inspect for domain penalties.

Do you know if your new domain is penalized or not? Sometimes purchasing a used domain may have poor backlinks directed to your site.

Here’s a simple tutorial from Google on how to disavow these penalized links.  You have to remove as many spammy links as you can before migrating the site to a new domain. This is to maintain the quality of your website.


  1. Migrate to the new domain name.

There are two ways to do this:

  • Manual Transfer – To migrate manually, make sure that your content management system (WordPress/Blogger) is working. So, say you’re using WordPress. Your website should already have its basic framework ready. You can do this by installing WordPress on the new domain. You can either do the 5-minute installation or a more detailed installation.
  • Plugin – For WordPress users, there’s a simpler way to install WordPress using Softaculous. It’s a plugin that can automate the migration process for you.  


  1. Assign a 301 Redirect.

A 301 redirect is a process that informs users and search engines that your site has permanently moved to a new domain. Hence, when someone arrives to one of your old posts, they will be redirected to your new site automatically.

This tells search engines to index the new site and de-index the old one. If done right, this can prevent duplicate content and keeps your old SEO ranking from the old page.

There are 2 ways to do a 301 Redirect:

  • cPanel – Follow this tutorial – Redirect Domain via cPanel.
  • .htaccess file – To setup a permanent 301 redirect on an entire domain, insert a line to the .htaccess file that serves as an instruction to the server on what to do. Here’s an example code:  

      RewriteEngine On

      RewriteBase /

      RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !$ [NC]

      RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [L,R=301]

Just replace the with your own domain name. Here’s a related article on how to redirect non-WWW to WWW domains.  

After inserting a 301 redirect, you have to add in a blank line at the bottom of the file. The server reads the .htacess file line by line. Inserting an end line character will inform the server that you’re done.

After everything’s finished, check if your redirect is working by visiting your old site. It should redirect you to the new site. If not, then that means the site was not redirected properly and you need to redo it until its okay.


  1. Inform Google about the new domain name

Go to your Google Search Console account. Follow this tutorial from Google – How to Use the Change of Address Tool in Search Console. The whole process informs Google about your new domain migration.

Additionally, you may want to improve your site’s functionality by creating two XML sitemaps. One each for the old and new domain. Over time, URLs on the old site will be de-indexed and indexation of URLs on the new domain should increase.


  1. Check if everything is working properly.

After migrating to a new domain,double check if everything is linked properly.  This also includes the 301 redirects.

Go through a keyword audit and see which of those keywords are driving visitors to your website. Then do a Google search. Check if the 301 redirects are set up correctly.

A 404 error page will appear if pages are not redirected as planned. Use a tool that can track all 404 pages, if any. Make sure to check them on the first week and fix all 404 pages since some of them may take a few weeks to pop up.


  1. Notify users with the change.

While 301 redirect is a huge step in notifying visitors, you can go an extra mile to create buzz around it. You can launch a PR campaign by publishing a blog post or a social media updates about the domain change.

Since organic traffic tends to slip a little after the change, consider planning a short-term PPC (pay-per-click) campaign. This can help to reinforce traffic to your new site. Target certain keywords that are known drive traffic to your website.

You can also ask users their feedback about the new domain. Ask them if=they experience any bugs while accessing it. Sometimes, the best people to ask if your site is working or not are the end users themselves.


If all the steps are followed, then it should reduce the impact on your SEO rankings. We hope that this article can be of great help before you decide to change domain names. If you have any questions, ask them in the comment section below and we’ll answer them as soon as possible.